Monday, August 11, 2008

Oscar's Blog


(This, as always, is going to be another long post. To me, this one’s worth it. I will be putting my tips inline with the text to make it a bit more useful for others. PS- the pic is clickable.)

Twelve years ago I was living in Eureka, California in my 2nd year of college. I had 2 roommates, John and Amanda. It was my first real time out ‘on my own.’ Our upstairs neighbors were fun and well connected in the area, and were often downstairs hanging out with us.

We, Amanda in particular, expressed interest in getting a cat, and one day our neighbor just appeared with one on our doorstep. Born a couple hours south of us, we never did know his exact birth-date, but it was sometime in September. He was weaned a bit too-early from mom, this tiny palm-sized kitten with grey and white fur and yellow eyes. At the time, I had just bought a couch for my room at the Salvation Army and had a gargantuan amount of reading to do for school. So I laid down on my couch with my book and Oscar curled up underneath my chin. We stayed that way for the first 3 days almost non-stop. His head under my chin is still his favorite spot.

Tip 1: Get a mutt from someone you know. Pure breeds are idiots and puppy-mills suck.

He earned nicknames like Mountain Climber for climbing up everyone and everything with his claws so his tiny body could be up where the action is. I’m sure being that small and in a sea of giants must make the floor scary too. I also called him Parrot, because he would climb up and sit on my shoulder, and often stay there even if I got up and walked around. Our friend Dru insisted on calling him Tom, since he had the right colorings of the classic cartoon cat. It never quite caught on with anyone but him though.

We always had people over, being college students and such, and everyone always wanted to play with him. He learned early on that he was part of a human family, I was dad and Amanda was mom. Amanda always had far more patients to pet him for hours, but he would always lie around on the floor or on my lap in my room while I was on the computer.

Tip 2: Have your pet (especially cats) meet as many friendly and warm people as possible when they are young. Have them get used to people and they won’t run and hide when company comes over.

About a month after getting Oscar, our neighbor showed up again with another cat. He was an orange tabby, about a month older than Oscar. We gladly took him in, but it was kind of a dirty trick- how can you say no to a kitten on your doorstep? I was given the privilege of naming him, something I am bad at. He was a bit of a pretty-boy and instantly announced himself as king of the house, so I named him Adonis. He turned out to be a huge glutton, and we had to start feeding Oscar separately so he would get food. They never really fought beyond the standard kitten play-fighting though.

Tip 3: The best pet names are out-dated human names.(But not as out-dated as “Adonis.”)

Adonis was good for Oscar in a couple respects, but most notably when we started letting them outside. We lived in what I called a ‘bad cat neighborhood’ where there were many cats fighting for territory. It was also an area of busy streets and our house was on the corner, so we were worried. Even at ~5 months old, Oscar was still very tiny.

The Fence

One of the funniest things I saw Oscar do in his early life was around then. Behind our house was a fence with a board near the top to support it. The board was wide enough for the cats to walk along. Hearing the familiar cat-fight noises, I look out the window to see Oscar, Adonis, and another cat I didn’t know. Adonis and the other cat were facing each other fighting. Oscar, behind the other cat, probably just thought it was play. When Oscar jumped on the cats back and started nibbling, the other cat instantly turned around with a “WTF?!?” look on his face and they all promptly fell off the wall. I still don’t know how Oscar even got on that wall. He had trouble getting on the counter at the time.

Tip 4: Let your cats go outside. Not possible in all areas I know, but it gives them a life and a personality far beyond just sitting around the house waiting for you to do something interesting. You’ll see below Oscar went outside in all sorts of places you wouldn’t expect.

Oscar also enjoyed the finer things in life. Like his dad, he enjoyed dark beer. Well any beer really (just like his dad…) He did not like carbonation though. He would often lick around the mouth of a bottle, can or even glass once someone had drank, and in his young life would always seek out that half-full beer on the table after a party and once it was flat, knock it over and drink it as it poured on the floor. We of course ended up discouraging this behavior.


It was a good thing he was an outdoor cat, because when John moved out and we got another roommate, she had a year old Dalmatian puppy. The dog was big and obnoxious, and for the next few months the times that Oscar and Adonis were in the house they were on shelves, counters, and furniture tops, darting in-between.

That didn’t last for long though, as the falling out in the house continued. We all ended up moving out separately. Adonis was renamed to Max and went with Amanda. I only saw him one time ever after that. Amanda also had Oscar fixed before we moved, because I probably never would have done it. I already knew Oscar’s genes should continue.

I took Oscar to Trinidad to move in with two new roommates, Loren and Dru. Loren was my roommate in the dorms and Dru lived across the hall. Trinidad can only be described as cat heaven. I think of all the places he lived, by far it was his favorite. On top of a hill overlooking the beach, we had a shared driveway that led up to a 2 story house. The bottom story was just a storage room and garage, upstairs was the living quarters. The balcony covered 2 sides of the house and gave a full view of Humboldt Bay and as far up the coast as your eyes could see. There was a stairway down from the balcony, and we left the sliding door a crack open for Oscar at all times except for pouring rain.

Between us and the road was a charming little one story house with a retired woman living there. (Trinidad is mostly a retirement community) Being a coastal area, there was a lot of flora and fauna around. She had put up a bird bath, probably years before Oscar existed, and put it about 6ft away from a large row of bushes that lined the shared driveway.

I don’t have any memory of Oscar hunting before this. But he quickly became amazingly proficient at it. He literally would bring 3 birds a day in. At first he left them there for me, and I promptly threw them away. After awhile he learned that I was going to do nothing but waste them, and so I started just coming home to feathers and leg bones strewn about the house.

His proficiency was amazing; he even caught a pheasant one day. But there are two stories that exemplify this more than anything.

The little yellow birds

Dru and I were out on the balcony one day and there were these tiny little yellow birds on a tree in our neighbor’s yard. Dru said he had never seen them before and wouldn’t it be nice to get a closer view. “Just wait for Oscar to catch one” I said. He said that such a small bird would be quick and there was no way Oscar was going to catch one. I didn’t feel like arguing further because it was just a hypothetical anyway.

About 2 days later I walk out onto the balcony and Oscar is running up the stairs smiling with one of the birds in his mouth. Dru was sitting on the couch just inside. Oscar doesn’t like to be doubted.

America’s funniest

On summer vacation, I stayed in Trinidad while everyone else went home. One day I was on the phone with a friend (still no idea who sadly) and walked out onto the balcony for fresh air while I talked. Oscar came jogging out with me and immediately went down the stairs. As soon as he hit the grass, this bird lost its mind. Shrieking this “Ka-Ka-Kakaka” sound repeatedly, it proceeded to dive bomb my cat. Oscar didn’t quite know where it was, but hit the ground as the bird passed just inches over him head-on.

I am on the phone with my friend in a state of shock. This bird was loud and incredibly brave. As it came around for a second pass, I think its critical mistake was it never shut up. As it came close, this time from Oscar’s rear heading forward, Oscar hit the ground again but this time leapt forward with both claws flying. “Ka-Ka-KakaKAAAAA!” went the bird, and it suddenly got religion. Finally realizing it had no chance in this battle, it went and landed on top of the old-lady’s house which was pretty much eye-level for me. It just refused to shut up after that, sending me back inside so I could hear my friend again. 20 minutes later it was still going.

I know that Oscar probably took his/her mate or something, which is sad and all, but I still think that if I had that video taped, I would have won America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Those are by no means his only exploits, just the two most memorable to me at that time. He even helped me get a bird at one point.

The Oil Spill

We weren’t supposed to have cats at the Trinidad house. (I’m so bad) and they wanted to do an inspection one day. So I had to bring Oscar with me in my van to school, he could sit there while I was in class. (Humboldt isn’t known for heat-waves that get above 75 degrees) Oscar hated cars and always whined for the first hour he was in one. My class ended up being canceled that day, and I had nowhere to go with Oscar. After driving by the house to see that the landlord was still there, I decided to take Oscar down to the beach.

I figured he had heard them since he moved there, but the loud noise of the waves crashing terrified him. He was content to hide in my jacket with pretty much just his ears sticking out. It was also relatively cool that day and the sea breeze was strong. I found a waist-high rock that I put him on, and he looked around very sheepishly. A dog ran up to us barking and the owner quickly followed, not understanding why his dog was acting that way. My cat was RIGHT NEXT to him… Anyway, he proceeded to tell me that there was a duck near the water covered in oil. I hadn’t heard yet, but there was an oil spill in the Humboldt Bay, which they claimed never got out of the bay. This beach was on the other side of the “Head” a large hill that ended the bay.

I took Oscar home and thought about it. I called and found out that HSU was taking the birds in, and I went down to the beach with a pillowcase and wrapped it around the bird. The bird tried to get to the water before I got there but couldn’t really move. I drove 90mph the whole way to the school. I figured I had a good excuse to any cop that stopped me. I gave the duck over and was given an ID # so I could call about his progress, but I never called. I didn’t want to hear if it didn’t make it.

There was also another large orange tabby that lived at the house that had the little yellow birds. The cat was larger than Oscar, and would often come in the house when everyone was away and eat Oscar’s food. Oscar never did get to be a BIG cat; he had an extremely athletic build. When caught of course a fight always ensued, and though to an extent Oscar was out-classed, he always managed to defend his territory.

Another memorable hunt was the time he caught this giant bug. No idea what it was…

The Solar Powered Bug

I was on my own in the house when Oscar runs into the house with something in his mouth and goes straight into Dru’s room. I follow and turn on the light, and immediately this bug that was like the Silence of the Lambs insect flies to the ceiling against the light. I turn off the light, and hear an obvious thud as the bug hits the ground. Turn back on the light, and the bug is at the ceiling again. Oscar just LOVED this game, he would often sit back a few feet away and wait for his prey to try to get away again, but I quickly grew tired of it. He only got about 4 rounds out of me.

Oscar also picked up another nickname at this time…



Around this time, there was a girl that was interested in my roommate Dru. It is also when South Park started. Every Wednesday she would come over with a few of her friends to watch.

I guess this is common to cats that are weaned to early, but Oscar liked to suckle. He actually trained me not to sleep on my back because if I did I would wake up with claw-marks on my face.

Amazingly for Humboldt, all of her friends were always pretty cute. Humboldt is famous for girls that don’t shave or shower, so this was a minor miracle. We would have discussions on it after, and sure enough, Oscar would always pick the hottest one and sit on her lap and suckle the whole night. Mind you he had excellent aim… at first they would always say”Oh no… stop” then “oh he’s so cute…” and let him. Damned cat…

All good things must come to an end though, and so did Oscar’s time in Trinidad. The area was beginning to get pretty “fished out” anyway causing Oscar to travel longer and longer distances. I had failed out of HSU, mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing there, and so I moved to Salt Lake City where my friend Adam moved a couple years before. For the first 2 months we stayed at his parents’ house as we looked for a place, and I was a bit worried because his parents had a tiny little cat. She was declawed however, which Oscar had no concept of, so he always thought she was playing and played with her. He was always very respectful when on another cat’s turf.

We found a place, a 2 bedroom apartment on the 3rd floor, a very nice place. Still, with winter coming, I wonder how Oscar was going to take it. The first time I took him out into the cold fluffy white stuff he did not seem very happy. I guess he got used to it though because he still always wanted to go out. I don’t really remember him catching anything there, though that doesn’t mean he didn’t, we just couldn’t leave a door o pen for him anymore so he might have disposed of his kills elsewhere. It wasn’t until I was moving out about a year later that I found out a bit more about what he was doing.

I had met one neighbor the whole time I was there, and not till near the end of living there. Everybody knew Oscar. He apparently went into everyone’s home and they fed him, played with him, etc. I guess his life in the snow wasn’t too rough after all.

Tip 5: Don’t believe your vet. The occasional “people food” is good for a pet. Variety in diet makes humans healthy; I believe it is the same for cats. Not to mention it makes them less likely to turn up their nose at food. Besides, if you only ate what was best for you, how happy would you be?

I ended up moving back home to Orange County, Ca to live with my parents while I went back to school. Now knowing it was computers I was interested in, I had direction. Once again I wondered about Oscar, the outside was much more akin to Trinidad than anywhere else we lived, but there were two cats and a dog in the house as well and I knew Oscar hated dogs. Willie, our Daschund, was of course obnoxious, but after a few bats on the head they had established a treaty. The other two cats, Siamese sisters, hate everyone and prefer to hide in closets and such, but on and off they would play with Oscar, one of them even seemed to have a crush on him at times.

Outside, Oscar went right back to work. If he really did not catch anything in Utah, he certainly didn’t loose his touch. For some reason, the community was beginning to have a pidgin problem when I moved back. I saw Oscar almost catch 2 of them. I am not sure if the community did anything about them, but they were soon mysteriously gone. He came very close to catching a crow around this same time, the crow having just enough strength to hop over a solid wall Oscar couldn’t. He didn’t really catch birds too often, but rodents and small reptiles were in large supply. He seemed to just stop hunting the lizards and snakes; they just didn’t offer enough fun for him.

Tip 6: If your cat catches an animal- let him have it. Unless you are going to snap the poor thing’s neck yourself, nothing is so cruel as to let the animal slowly die of disease or starve. If this bothers you so much, look at your own dinner.

Happy Easter

Probably the best was right after I moved back. It was Easter morning and my parents were getting up at the crack of dawn like usual to go to church. Leaving the house, my mother sees a perfectly beheaded bunny on the doorstep. How he does it I don’t know, but it always looked like a perfect cut. She of course was not at all happy. But if you are wondering why you never see the Easter Bunny, now you know.

He had new rules to get used to as well, the #1 being that he couldn’t be out at night. This was new for him and he didn’t much like it. The reason is there are coyotes around at night. Through a system of basically grounding him the next day if he was out all night, he learned. It helped that he realized he liked dinner too. He also had to get used to the fact that people were busier and busier and not around as much. I was working during the day and going to school at night, at first he resented it a bit, but our evenings became our time together. He would often get mad at me if I was at the computer too late. (This was unfortunately often.)

When I went to Japan for six weeks in 2004, he was beside himself. My parents told me he moped around all day and even started to sleep with them at night, kicking the girl cats out of the room. It took him awhile to forgive me, but he eventually did. It was about the same last year and this past summer when I went back to Japan, but he got used to it quicker.

He also made new friends, with all the neighborhood kids. I was a bit worried about this because kids can be too rough; I was worried how he would react. But true to form Oscar patiently put up with it until he could get away. He seemed to have a simple rule: If you’re human, you’re family; if you’re smaller than me, you’re dead; and if you’re bigger than me, you’re scary. It served him well.

Things always come in threes, and another orange tabby was to come into Oscar’s life. Hairy Newman was my sister’s roommate’s cat, but seemed to prefer my sister. They told the breeder they specifically did not want a cat like my parent’s cats, which always run and hide. He told them to lock him in a small area when they were away so he didn’t feel like he had to defend a large territory. Sadly this gave exactly the opposite effect.

Anyway, when they stopped being roommates, my sister’s friend was moving home with the parents to a large obnoxious dog and was going to have to have Hairy declawed. She was planning on only being home for a month, so I said I would take Hairy in rather than declaw him.


Tip 7: Don’t declaw your cats. They are living beings not meant to be modified for your convenience. If you value your furniture more than your pet, don’t get one. Also, if someone ripped your fingernails out, you would never trust them fully again either.

As far as I know, Megan (her friend) is still living at home, and Hairy is now mine. Oscar being as territorial as he is, doesn’t let Hairy on my bed, but he has his own place under my bed where he knows it is almost impossible for anyone to get to him so he loves it. In the cat world it is opposite, so Oscar owns me and “the girls” own my mom. So Hairy is the cat with no one to own and is always kind of on the out-skirts. He is very loveable though and gets a decent amount of attention.

He is bigger than Oscar, but doesn’t seem to know it, and it is very easy for Oscar to put him in his place. Still they get along fairly well together. I also made Hairy an outdoor cat, much to the chagrin of my mother who over-babies him keeping him as weak as he thinks he is.

A little after Hairy came on board, Willie (the dog) died. He was 13 and had lived a long life. On occasion you could see all 5 of them, the cats and dog, sitting in a room hanging out nearby. It was like interrupting the meeting when you saw them, and they’d all begin to wander off on their own.

Oscar slowed down in his old age (of 10) and began to lie around more. He didn’t hunt as much, preferring to hang out in the garage on the boxes and relax. He also began to have a bit of trouble jumping up on the counter to get food, so I started putting a chair out. His ego usually wouldn’t let him use it though and he would jump up and pull himself up to the counter. He still had a lot of life in him though and would catch the occasional game; rabbits seemed to be the one thing he still really liked to get.

Recently, he was just getting over being mad at me for being gone for 5 weeks in Japan again. I have been doing a lot of work at my computer like usual which annoyed him, but I always find at least a few minutes to pet him before I pass out.

He did not come home Friday night. I usually come get him around 10pm and he is used to that, but it is not out-of-the-ordinary for me to be a bit late, especially on a weekend night. When this happens, it is not out-of-the-ordinary that he goes and finds another place to camp out and says to hell with me. Especially in summer when it is hot out but very nice at night. Friday was one of those nights. I went to get him at 11:30, then one more time, then at 1am. At 1 I was exhausted, so I went to bed. I always worry about him when I do this, but he is always at the door in the morning hungry.

He wasn’t at the door Saturday morning. This also isn’t unprecedented. He had been out for over 24 hrs twice before. Once I even put up flyers, I only got 2 calls. One was a lady saying her son was obsessed with looking for Oscar. The other was some bitch saying how I am not allowed to put up flyers. He came back both times, and I theorized he was trapped in someone’s garage. When I went out looking I kept an eye on what garages were open, and it wasn’t many throughout the day. I tried to just keep busy and wait for him to come home, which resulted in me cleaning my brother’s old room.

Sunday I made flyers. I put his name, when he was last seen, my cell #, and asked people to please check their garages and anywhere else he could have gotten trapped into. I put them on the mailboxes on the street above and below as well as mine and on each person’s door from my street. I was worried no one would go to the mailbox on a Sunday.

As I was putting them on the doors, I ran into the kids down the street. One girl in particular is a real animal lover. She took the flyer and was really worried. She said Oscar was her best friend, and always came to her lawn to play with her. But maybe he only came because she had cheese. He freaking loved cheese. You could never have any form of cheese around without him getting his share. She was really hard to talk to at that point.

I also went down to the guard shack to ask if they had any reports of strays. Without a collar I always worried he would get picked up. I couldn’t help it, any collar I tried to put on him would last a week or 2 at max, and I wasn’t going to embarrass him with a harness.

The guard told me that the patrol guard saw 2 coyotes with a cat Saturday. No other info as to when, where, etc. So I gave her a flyer and asked her to ask the patrol guard if she saw him/her. Shortly after I got home, I got another call with the same information. It was a black cat. Oscar is not, but it would have been dark.

Then the patrol guard came to my house personally. It was like something you would see on cop shows or whatever. She told me she was the one who witnessed it, she was following the coyotes and called animal control but they wouldn’t help with wild animals. (“Coyotes? Those things are dangerous! I ain’t goin’ out there!” – aka your tax dollars at work.) They cut thru a cul-de-sac and she had to drive around. When she did, they were at the corner of my street in the grassy area with a cat “matching Oscar’s description” She also clarified it was Saturday morning, I was expecting Saturday night which had me thinking it may not be Oscar.

The guard was in tears by the time she left. She had apparently recently had to put her own cat down. I thanked her for coming.

Shortly after that, I got another call. The wife couldn’t tell me, so the husband came on and said he saw the same thing Saturday morning, and it was a grey and white cat.

Sunday night I bought myself a Chimay Grand Reserve, an expensive beer I use for gifts and celebrations, and I celebrated his life. Thinking of all the memories I have with that cat is what inspired me to write this post. There is no way I want to forget them.

I had a lot to do this weekend, but couldn’t really do much. I did not sleep well Saturday or Sunday night, and therefore I decided to take the day off today. I always feel bad when I don’t go to work, but I don’t know if I would have been able to handle a busy day or just a stupid customer without snapping. I was going to call shelters just to be sure today, but I’m kind of scatterbrained. Maybe I will do it tomorrow. Any chance is worth it.

He lived by the sword, and died by the sword. Somewhere there are dozens, if not hundreds of birds, snakes, lizards, mice and rabbits cheering. I swear I have seen more rabbits run around outside on the hill in the past 2 days than the past 6 months. Eventually something bigger got him.

This sort of divine justice is somehow comforting. I think it would be way worse if he was hit by a car, and as much as it hurts I think it is better than never knowing for sure. Of course old age was always my preferred choice, but it can be difficult too. We had to decide not to treat Willie because it was too expensive, and then we had to put him down. My mom asked if I wanted to be there for it and I said no. I changed my mind but it was already too late, and I still feel guilty about that. What sucks is I have nothing of him. I have recently been cleaning quite a bit, so there are no large stores of his hair around like usual. As I said he never wore a collar and I probably wouldn’t have that either if he did. I do have lots of wonderful memories though, far more than I could put here. Though I tried, and you’re probably suffering for it.

This all may be more than a bit disjointed. As I write (Word says I am on my 9th page, and that’s without pictures) I keep going back and filling things in that I forgot, so hopefully it isn’t too bad. I know it’s a huge cliché, but there really will never be another one like Oscar. The stars just aligned for him. From the bad cat neighborhood of Eureka, to the lush hunting grounds of Trinidad, his experience in the snow in SLC, and back to OC with a family, other animals and people who loved him, he always adjusted quickly and added a new facet to his personality. I guess the most telling thing is that even cat haters loved him. Even my dad, who did not grow up with animals and always jokes about ‘thinning the herd’, was put into submission when Oscar started climbing up on him and sitting on his chest about a year ago. He would even PET him.

I was lucky to have him with me for almost 12 years. It is hard for me to remember a time when he wasn’t around. You have two families in life, the one you are born into and the one you make. Oscar is the closest thing I have to the one I made. I am sure many people might say that I am going overboard comparing him to a child, and I know he isn’t. But if you actually read all the above I think you can see by now just how special he was. He was the one, that when everyone else was gone, was always there. That is a very difficult thing to replace.

Oscar never lost his whiny kitten voice. He learned early on that enough of the ‘I’m dying’ whine was enough to get him anything he wanted. He was always very talkative and we would banter back and forth, especially when I was calling him in for the night or he was looking for me.

I opened the door today to get the packages on our doorstep. I swear I heard his meow. I welcomed him home.


Sunday, July 27, 2008


(Kaeru - to return)

(This one is a week late)

(This also sets a new record for longest post ever. Hang in there!)

Monday - Monday was fairly quiet. After class I went to 北大路(Kitaoji - a subway/bus station in northern 京都) to do some quick shopping. I got myself a decent 浴衣, 帯 and 下駄 (yukata - men's version of a kimono, obi - the sash thats used as a belt, aand geta - the wooden shoes) for a decent price. I also got myself some tasty bread-based treats from my favorite パン屋 (panya - bread shop) and headed back in time for dinner at the 食堂 (shokudou - caffeteria) Hmm, dont remember anything anything too special after that, think we just hung out in the ihouse as I shirked practicing my speech...

Tuesday - Tuesday was the last full day of classes After class I had a special treat though! Michelle, Evelyn, Kitty, and Mari were going to see 花より男 (Hana yori Dango - a Japanese Dorama that recently had a movie released more info) We ended up arriving late and missing about the 1st 10 mins of the movie (hard to tell due to commercials) and of course my Japanese isnt that great yet, so I didnt understand a whole lot, but thankfully I had seen the first season so I got a lot of it.

The really weird thing was the people in the theater. This is a drama but has definate comedy to it. However you forgot there were other people even in the theatre. No one ate, drank, laughed, moved, I was honestly not sure they were breathing... We of course tried to be polite but funny is funny and we were chuckling. They probably hated us.

After that, we went to lipton cafe for dinner and caught the last train home. Due to some drama, me and Evelyn returned on our own and had a nice chance to chat.

Wednesday - Oh god, its the 発表... (happyou - speech) First we had our last day with おのざき先生 (Onozaki sensei - sensei means teacher :P ) It was kinda sad but we were also all really burned out. I think he knew it, so he had us watch an old anime. However... the anime was entirely in 大阪弁 (Oosakaben - Osaka dialect) which while still Japanese made it basically uncomprehensible to us. The closest thing I can compare it to is Shakesperian.

After class was our last lunch with our CPs. It really began to hit me that we were all leaving so soon and it was a real bummer in that respect. Still everyone was a blast.

But then... oh god that speech... practicing over and over and yet still not being able to read it well was really bothering me. My speech last year was horrible because I had no time for it, and this year I really wanted to make it good. Thing was, I ended up sacrificing badly needed study time for the sake of the speech, and I was STILL BAD! Onozaki先生 had worked long and hard on all of our speeches and had edited mine quite a bit. The problem was since it wasn't my words anymore no matter how many times I read it over I just kept stumbling.

Add to that on Monday afternoon he declared we all had to memorize our speech. I cant do that in English. Oh, one other bonus, we had to answer questions about our speech from the teachers afterwards. My speech was basically translated from wikipedia. What was on my page was all I knew.

My theme was うどん(udon - thick Japanese noodles) my original theme anyway... Tuesday night frustrated I decided to think about doing it the way I would do a speech in English- write an outline and then run my mouth thru the topics.

I quickly wrote (in English) an outline of how I love IJP but I cant stand the speech, that its been the bane of everyone's existance in my 3 trips, and there just simply isnt any time for it in such a busy program. Of course I softened it from that.

Well after going back and forth several times, thats the speech I gave. I had not once practiced it out loud, so it was a challenge, but it went moderately well, certainly better than my other speech would have. Everyone's favorite line was "My real speech is in a bar at 1am." and I closed by saying that "I know I still have a long way to go, and I have made a lot of mistakes here. But I believe you understood me, and to me that is the important part." At the questions part, 岸先生 (Kishi先生)was thrown off and had to think of something to ask me. It was a fun feeling.

The whole speech thing seems to be intrinsic to Japanese education, they are always dressing up in suits and giving speeches to prove they learned something, and I guess I understand it. My problem is there just isn't time for it in such a busy program. Such an off-the-cuff thing was very anti-traditional, and I didn't know what to expect in terms of reaction.

Suprizingly, several people said they really liked it. Both CP's and other Americans. Now I can never quite know if the Japanese are lying because they are just so nice, but I know my fellow Americans would tell me straight. The big casualty was おのざき先生. He had worked long and hard thru this entire program, was averaging something like 3-4 hrs of sleep 3 days a week to come teach us and maintain his other job, and had worked particularly hard on our speeches. I think that this time around he really didnt think I was trying hard enough, and to an extent that may be true. The problem is it is just too important to me to go out and USE my Japanese while in Japan. I cant devote all my free-time to studying. After the speech, he never really talked to me again. I am quite upset by this, and plan to send him an apology email. I wanted to do it in person but he pretty much avoided me at the farwell party.

Wednesday night - (that last part was so long I thought I'd break it up) Well, after the speech was out of the way, a huge load was lifted off everyone's shoudlers. Thankfully it coincided with the ぎおん祭り (gion festival, still dont know the kanji for gion) and the night is the best time to go. It is a huge party where the streets are closed off and lined with food stands and everyone walks around in 浴衣. This is what I bought my 浴衣 for on Monday. I had organized a huge group of us to go, and we all had fun.

Afterwards, instead of being good little students and going home, we went to とりのすけ for another round of drinking and having fun. Risa came with us, and a couple of the guys in the bar knew her. They were pretty drunk and speaking in thick 関西弁 (kansaiben - Kansai dialect) so they were hard to understand. I got up to go to the bathroom and ended up talking to a few of the Japanese girls that were sitting at the bar. They commented that it was rare for anyone to wear 浴衣 or 着物 (kimono) at the place, and we both had ours on. One was a French major so I pointed her to Theo, our token French guy, and went to the bathroom. When I came back, they grabbed me again and I ended up talking to them all for about an hour. It is an interesting thing talking to regular people rather than CPs, the CPs seem to "pull more punches" with us, trying to dumb things down to our level. Still, I did pretty well.

It is a wonderful thing that とりのすけ is close enough to walk home from ^^

Thursday - This is the morning of the official gion parade. We went to our now familiar (esp to me on my 3rd time) spot to watch the big floats try to navigate down a very narrow street without steering.

But after the 1st big float, Zack and JC were ready to leave. I would have liked to watch a couple more, but since everybody was heading out I decided I would too. We headed off to 寺町(teramachi - name of a street with a ton of shops) for おみあげ (omiage - gifts for people at home) shopping. After a bit of that we headed back to the Ihouse and relaxed, I had a meeting with the 先生s at 5:40 to practice for the oral exam the next day.

After that and dinner we headed out... for 花火!(hanabi - fireworks (litterly flower-fire)) a ton of people came and it was really fun. It was also the first time I really got to talk to Mami, JC's CP. She is tall and thin and does karate! (I was supprized) She also doesnt like fireworks because she was burned as a child. I went over to see why she was hanging so far back (she wasn't cowering, just off to the side) and ended up talking to her quite a bit. She is very nice. Ian didnt come becuase he had planned dinner with the 先生s at a ラーメン屋(ramen house) but it was closed so he ended up eating at the 食堂 with them. He was bummed. His email said "I strongly hate my choice." (yes in English)

Afterwards most people decided to head to とりのすけ again, but Alfa, Kyle and me decided to head back. Alfa is really super nice, and will be spending 2 years in the Ihouse, which is the first time I have ever heard of anyone doing that. We had a nice walk home and then I spent the evening slacking on studying for the oral test. It was kind of hard to study for since we had only a very basic idea of what would be on it.

Friday - The day of the oral test. I had organized (as I tried to last year but failed) everyone to hit the computer room around 10 and hang out and trade pics and contact info and such. It actually worked and was fun. I made a Japanese music sampler of 1 album from about 15 artists and gave it to a few people, and got Trevor's music from him. I also started adding people to my newly made Facebook acct. I really wanted to blog and upload pics at the time but there just wasnt any time.

For my oral exam (which was actually just before at 9:40) I did ok I guess. I was mad I forgot the one word I was trying to remember which was a word for servants, but it was a complicated word and I wasnt even sure if it was the right one. I ended up talking around it pretty well. Overall I doubt my grade was good, and I do not feel like I learned much. However I did become a lot smoother in what I DO know, and I have a good place to continue studying from here. Namely, what I need most is a ton more vocab and kanji. I can express myself pretty well, but then I dont understand the reply because they use words I do not know. Overall I am so glad I went and so indebted to all my teachers, especially for putting up with me.

SO then... we went to an お好み焼き (okonomiyaki) resturant that was actually in walking distance of the Ihouse. Ten of us filled the place. When ordering I made it clear that I could not eat fish, meat or bird, and that included the 鰹節(katsuobushi - bonito flakes) that they often put on top, I said this twice.

After waiting over an hour for our meal (it was just 1 cook, and he served a Japanese person who came after us first) mine arrived with the 鰹節 on it. When I told him I couldnt eat it, they offered to scrape it off. It basically melts into the hot dish, so no thanks. The chef (he is the one that took my order btw) got very angry and was claiming I never said that blah blah blah. I realized I had the full capacity in my limited Japanese to tell him off and insist that I did say that, hell we even went over in class just a couple days before how to politely complain, but I wasnt going to be polite so I just decided to leave.

Evelyn, Michelle, and Alfa came chasing after me to make sure I was alright, but I was fine. It's not the first time I've delt with idiots afterall. I ended up going home and making my usual bread pizza which I love, and it came out better than ever.

At 5pm was the saddest event, the farewell party. All the CPs and students were there laughing and having fun. They had all the IJP students give thank you speeches and some of the Japanese did as well. Kae and Mami gave me nice letters, Kae's in the shape of a heart and told me not to read it till I got on the plane. They gave out certificats of completion and おのざき先生 gave me mine, but did not look at me when he did it...

The funny part was as sad as the party was, many were almost waiting for it to end. Afterwards we went to another 飲み放題 (nomihoudai - all you can drink) Yoshiki and Saori made all the plans, for which I thanked them profusely (I had such trouble the whole trip trying to get people together) and 45 of us went out drinking. Mariko wasnt going to come, but I offered to pay for her since I just wanted her there. It was supremely humid down by the river while we waited to go in at 9:30, but it was a nice place inside and was a lot of fun. They started getting slow on my drinks like the other place, so I said screw it and ordered a pitcher. When I got it I was going to pour it in a glass like a normal human, but everyone was so excited about the prospect of me using it as a glass that's what I did. I had 2 of those. ^^

After the 飲み放題 many people went home. The rest of us tried to go to a Mexican resturant that JC wanted to to go, but it was closed. So even more people left. Finally, the last group of us- Kevin, JC, Mariko, Hiro, Shuhei, Yoshiki, and Mariko ended up at McDonnalds till like 4am. We took a cab back.

Saturday - I was the first one up from the last group, and bummed around the Ihouse for awhile. I walked Ian to the bus stop so he could catch his flight in 名古屋(Nagoya)

We then all gathered up and went to a temple who's name I forget (there's just so many!) mostly because it was on the way to the Handicrafts Center which is a great one-stop-shop for おみあげ. It was also a rediculous tourist trap, everyone spoke English even if you spoke Japanese to them and there were no Japanese shopping. Still, I got my おみあげ done. Calvin ditched us in the store and forced us to look for him for almost an hour before giving up. Seems he had already left...

Afterwards we went to 寺町(sorry folks, 1 explination per post!) and ate at Shakey's (yes the pizza place) where they have a 食べ放題(tabehoudai - all you can eat) of curry, pizza, salad, and potatoes. After a long night and a long day of walking, that place is life-giving. It was around this time I got a text from Ian that he was late, unsure he was on the correct train, and generally pissed at the world. We had a good laugh. (Dont worry, he made it fine)

Finally it was カラオケ (karaoke) something Trevor had set up, and it was really fun. Natsumi, a girl that showed us around Kiyomizudera and I kept in contact with via email, had said she was going to come. In the end, she wasnt able to because of a party for her club, but she came to the meeting place anyway to personally say so. That was really nice of her. She imediately asked me 'do you remember me?' but she looked so different from 2 weeks before (dressed very differently and wearing a hat) that I stuttered.

Our room was super over crowded, but it was fun. I finally got Trevor to sing "Take on Me" but I had to shoo Zack off the mic to keep him from ruining it. Mariko spent half the time in the hall drawing a picture for Calvin because she had given us all notes with drawings (she drew me as fat and told me to watch my drinking >.>) but didnt make one for Calvin. She said she didnt know him quite well enough to know what to draw. So I told her he always says すげい and めっちゃ (GREAT! VERY!) and she put that in. ^^ (Calvin you're not allowed to read that last part)

Afterwards, everyone else went to go have more fun, but I had to return to the Ihouse by 11 to ask the gaurd when my taxi was coming. Turned out he stuck a note to my door- that sucked. I would have wanted to stay out.

Sunday - When everyone got back, we realized we were all going to be up at 5am and it was like 1 and so we decided to stay up all night and pack and such. I was already packed so I pretty much hung out. At 5:10 am my taxi to the airport came, while the other guys were loading theirs up to Kyoto station to head to Tokyo. The one time I leave on time and everyone else stays- no fair!!!

So I went to the airport in 大阪 (Osaka) where they wanted to look in my bags so I had to repack. Then I got to 成田 (Narita - the tokyo airport) where I had to repack into 2 seperate bags or pay 3000 yen for weight, and had a 6 hr layover. I spent my time eating pizza and drinking beer (I wanted to sleep on the flight) and emailing all my new and old friends on my ケータイ(keitai - cell phone)

Eventually I got on the plane and went home. I had an exit row and had my feet up on the safety slide pretty much the whole time. I also slept pretty well.

When I got home, I went to Rubios for something to eat then took a 'nap' which lasted from 12:30-7:30... not at all what I wanted.

Monday I went to work, and have been working ever since. I still have a million things to do like finish unpacking, give people their gifts, tag and upload pictures, and most importantly email all my old and new friends. But I have been sleeping at odd times (mostly 5:30pm-10:30pm) so getting anything done is a bit hard. The good news is with my new time schedule I am awake when Alfa is on the computer, and we have had a couple nice conversations because of it. I almost want to keep the schedule for that reason.

Ok, I'm shutting up now.

Links of the day!

Devil May Cry Commercial If American commercials were this good people wouldnt skip em.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


(gomen - sorry)
I am sorry for the lack of updates. This year's program has boasted 0 free time, so it has just been impossible. I leave in just a few hours for what will be a ~22hr journey home. I will have a 6 hr layover in narita and I plan to pay the $5 to get internet access and hopefully tag pics and blog.

I wil be home soon and I WILL catch up. I hope everyone didnt forget about me.

I dont want to leave...

Links of the day!


Sunday, July 13, 2008


(tabesugi - eat too much)

Another long one.. ごめん

Wednesday - After a rather uneventful morning of class, our afternoon involved going to Judo. Compared to Akido from last year and Karate from 4 years ago, this was much more serious. The 先生 (sensei - teacher) was Japan's representative in 1964 and one of his students won the 1988 Gold Medal in Los Angeles. We mostly just sat arround watching, but doing rope climbs and pushups with everyone had us all hurting for several days afterwards. Then we all got to "run" home. I ran about 100 yards then walked the rest of the ~1 mile.

After that, we walked straight into a 七夕(Tanabata - A Japanese holiday where wishes are hung on trees and granted if the night is clear) party in the Ihouse which was a lot of fun. Everyone wearing their Yukattas was nice, I'm not sure why but it really does make girls look pretier.

Thursday - After school we went to Doushisha, another college nearby where JC and Kevin are planning to 留学. (ryugaku - study abroad) It is the 5th oldest college in Japan and very nice other than I guess it's a Catholic university. I wouldnt mind spending a year in Kyoto... Afterwards we went to Mos Burger and then returned home to study.

Friday - After failing my second test and not being able to read my speech that 先生 'kindly' rewrote for me, I was very glad my 'party' went off well. About 20 people showed up in the Ihouse lobby where we talked, drank and played 鬼(oni - demon, but also what they say instead of 'tag youre it!') at 10 when everyone got kicked out, about 10 of us went down to トリのすけ(Torinosuke - a bar within walking distance) where we met about another 6 people and all had a blast. 6 of us including me did a 飲み放題・食べ放題(nomihoudai - all you can drink / tabehoudai - all you can eat) for 3000 yen (>$30) many others didnt because they said it was too expensive... seriously? I think I got my $30 worth. Anyway it was a total blast, everyone had fun. Kevin drank a bit too much and paid for it, but walked home (and actually led) just fine.

After I put the kids to bed, I was up having a couple more beers and talking world politics with Taka, A German guy and a French guy. Went to bed at 4:30.

Saturday - The plan Saturday was to relax and practice the speech, then go out later to カラオケ(karaoke) Which worked out well considering my late nite, not that I practiced much but I rested a lot. ^^; At about 4 we headed off to 四条(shijo - the name of a street (and station) that is the major nightlife and shopping area in 京都)
and ate at the 回転寿司(KaitenZushi - a sushi shop where there is a converyor belt and you just take what you want and pay by the plate at the end, almost eveerything is 100 yen (>$1)

After stuffing ourselves, we went to a desert place to induce diabetic coma. Just wait till you see the pictures (if I ever get a chance to tag and upload them.... sorry) They had over 100 different kinds of parfaits, including a couple GIGANTIC ones meant for um... entire sumo teams...

Then it was finally time to meet at the same 回転寿司 place to go off カラオケing. The place was bigger, nicer, and more expensive than Oppereta which we usually go to, and was a lot of fun. After missing the last bus and having to take the Taxi home from the last station (not that expensive, but everyone always complains) it was rest and study time again.

Sunday - YAY! The long awaited day has come, I get to see Nobuko and Minori! Me and Kyle went to 大阪 (Osaka) to meet up with them. We spent a bit of time shopping and then went to eat お好み焼き (Okonomiyaki - A Japanese specialty which I love) Where we once again ate more food than is humanly probable. For 4 people: Some meat+kimchi appetizer I couldnt eat, then 3 large お好み焼き then 2 オムそば (omsoba - noodles wrapped in an omlet) then fried tofu, then 2 more large お好み焼き with noodles, and of course a couple beers. It was seriously hard work near the end. But it was so wonderful to sit there and just talk, everyone is so nice they keep wanting to play tour guide and take us wherever we want to go, but we dont know where to go well and I really just wanted to talk with my friends.

After dinner, we did a bit of お見上げ (omiage - gifts to take home) shopping, which was all waking around not talking. So I brought up the idea of カキ氷 (kakigoori - shaved ice, but the Japanese do it so intracately...) so we went off to eat EVEN MORE and talk more. Sadly after that it was past time to leave, so we had to say goodbye. I miss them already.

There was a fun little game going on the whole time, when we first got there they bought us these deep fried cream puffs that were really good. So we bought them dinner. They then bought us the カキ氷, but before that we had already bought them some small お見上げ. As we left we gave it to them. I gave Minori a clip with Hello Kitty holding a glass of 梅酒 (umeshu - Plum wine) because she ordered some at dinner. Kyle got Nobuko Hello Kitty riding a plane cell strap.


So how are you all liking your free Japanese lessons? Hope you enjoy.

I am still hopelessly behind on pictures, but I I did put some new ones up, go check em out.

Links of the day!

The benefits of facial peircings Found this while checking the weather in Osaka.

Monday, July 07, 2008


[Nihon ni hashiteru - Running through Japan]
(I am embarrased to say I am not sure what particle to use, but で doesnt sound right to me for some reason)

Wow, I dont update nearly enough. Every post is long and I forget stuff. The pictures are a good supliment though as I comment on almost every one. Hopefully I will have pictures up in the next 2 days. The program is just super busy, I am just slammed with work since I am covering all new stuff for the first time and I have this darn speech to write... anyway on with it.

I'll start on Sat because it's easier... Dont remember Thursday well and Friday was an early night because of...

Saturday - At 7AM we met to head to 広島(Hiroshima)via the 新幹線(Shikansen - bullet train) We arrived around 12:30 and then took a train to 宮島(Miyajima) where I also went 4 years ago. It is a small island they have been building temples on for over 600 years and is most famous for the red tori gate in the water that is in so many Japanese travel brocures. Sadly, we only had about an hour on the island, which is about 1/3rd of the time you need to enjoy it. So we ran thru the major temple and grabbed a snack and were out. We were supposed to have more time but we missed a train previously.

From there, we headed to the 原爆ドーム(Neculear Bomb Dome) and Museum which I also went to 4 years ago. We had more time at the museum and was able to do it all. Then headed to our 旅館 (ryokan - Japanese inn) and FINALLY GOT TO PUT OUR BAGS DOWN. We took a quick shower before listening to 2 women speak who had survived the bomb drop. It was a shame everyone's camera either ran out of space or batteries for the 2nd speaker, so we only have one recorded. Listening to them speak was something very special most foreigners and I would think even Japanese people dont bother to/get to do, so it was a very special part of the trip.

After that, we had 広島style お好み焼き(okonomiyaki - a specialty food of Hiroshima and Kansai (関西)that is different in the different regions.) 広島style has noodles in it. And then went out drinking (of course!) But ended up at a 外人(gaijin - foreigner) bar because that is where Paul went and no one could find anything any better.

Sunday - After breakfast, we left the 旅館 and got back on the 新幹線 towards 京都(Kyoto) but got off at 姫路 (Himeji) to see 姫路城. (Himeji Castle) Once again it was very hot and humid and we carried our bags everywhere we went. I can normally walk for long distances just fine, but carying a bag severely shortens my endurance. My legs were aching below the knee by the end of the day. After 姫路 we got back on the 新幹線 to 京都 and bought a few things at the international super market inside 京都駅 (Kyoto Station) before returning home. I passed out at 10pm and got a good night's sleep.

Monday - Why is it whenever I get a good night's sleep I am even more tired the next day? I was exhausted all day. Got my test back in which I got a 58 (not sure what it was out of, but probably above 100) and it wasnt the lowest score. After class I did my homework, had dinner, and worked on my speech. I tagged a few pictures before bed but they are not ready to upload yet.

Tuesday -(today) Today was すみえれ幼稚園(Sumiere Kindergarden) where we attempted to teach 99 4yr olds "Old McDonald" while they stared at us. There is a Japanese version of the song which people told us they would know... they didnt. Still, it was a lot of fun. I took a lot of video.

After that, we had a break which I utilized to try to get people organized to go out Friday night, and then did 書道(shodo - kanji calligraphy) and now am sitting here trying to think of anything other than my speech to do.

Guh.. guess I'll go do it, I am sure you're sick of reading this by now.

Links of the day!


Wednesday, July 02, 2008


(terebi to Ocha - TV and(green) Tea)

*PS - New pics up*

Well the pace is getting to this old man. Prob will be in bed just a little after writing this. (It's 8:30 as I start)

Tuesday - JC and Kevin went to Shijo but after a long day at school and little sleep, me and Kyle decided to chill. We heard a certain show was on at 7pm ch12 (NHK) at 7pm so... we watched FULL HOUSE IN DUBBED JAPANESE. Admit it, you are all jealous. You just haven't lived till youve seen it. I did take a video of the opening song, prob wont be up till early next week though.

After that we watched an English practice show. It was a simple cartoon in English with Japanese subtitles so it was actually good reading pracitce. After the show became all English we changed the channel...

And found a really cool and funny show. First of all know almost all Japanese tv shows are 'variety shows' meaning all sorts of strange crap happens. First the 2 main guys were dressed as investigators and went to an all girls high school. They had to solve many varios puzzles (I am guessing the girls created them?) from Kanji to word plays to musical challenges etc. One question led them to another and when they got to about 3 they got the code to open a trasure box in the room, which gave them part of a 'keyword' and led them to the next room. It was very interesting to watch them work. It was rather suprizing how much we all understood as well.

After that (same show) they did a "sleeping face" contest... where they woke up like 12 18-25 yr old men early in the morning, make them work out all day, then let them finally pass out at 2:30. They then did before and after comparisons of what they looked like awake and asleep. I have absolutely no idea what the point of this was, but it was still rather entertaining.

After that we turned it off and I attempted to write my speech. I am going to totally fail this thing, but I dont care. As I emailed my sensei yesterday I am basically lost in class, and if I locked myself in my room and studied I could probably learn it all, but I came to Japan to actually USE my Japanese, I can study in my room at home. I will definately do so when I get home, this book does seem to be pretty good.

(suiyoubi - wednesday)

After actually not drinking anything at all last night, I woke up absolutely exhausted today. I wasnt the only one, there were a lot of blank stares in class. That's ok. It's all good. This time it's not review. It's all new stuff to me, and I already know I am a slow learner, especially when it comes to Japanese.

After class, me and Kyle went to Book-Off, and I spent about $100. I bought about 8 volumes of manga, 4 CDs: Tommy Airlines (with DVD), Aqua Timez, a CD/DVD I cant read the kanji on (always looking for new artists) and a FREENOTE DUAL CD! - god I've been looking for them forever I also got a few Super Famicom games: Pilotwings, World Heroes, and Street Fighter 2. Oh ya, and a Game Boy Color game just cuz it was Card Captor Sakura.

We are supposed to have our speeches done by Friday, but that is completely impossible. I am about to go to now and everyone is already planning a night out tomorrow. As I said- I can sit at home and study in America.

This weekend we go to Hiroshima, which should be quite interesting. Because of the expense, no conversation partners are coming witch honestly rather blows. Everyone wants Biwako, I honestly think Hiroshima will be just as good or better, except for the fact no CPs are coming.

Oh, I got an email from my parents today that Hairy has a broken leg and several bite marks, and it may or may not be Oscar. Damn cat is getting onry in his old age... just like his master. They are both in boarding as my parents take a few days off for fun. I hope Hairy is ok and Oscar calms down. It's nice to be missed, but missed violently? That's a new one...

Greg - Just saw your comment, dont worry about it, I've already given up.

Mom - I am doing Japanese noodles for lack of a better idea.

Winston - click the pics link at the top of the Blog for all the pics you could possibly want. Tell Ryan Chibi-Ryan is pretty cool and does remind me a lot of him. I keep calling him Ryan...

Till next time- though next time may not be till Monday. Twitter will be updated more often (see right) assuming it's not broken.

Links of the day!

na I want to go to bed. It's 9:07, I feel old.

Monday, June 30, 2008


(tanoshikatta - fun)

*get comfortable, it's a long one*

I have been looking forward to posting a happy blog for once, and I definately have one. It hasn't really gotten any easier, but I have had a lot of fun. I honestly dont mind getting my ass kicked out here language wise, in fact I kind of expect it. But I hadnt really done anything else so it was grating on me.

Lets see.... Thursday night Taka, a friend from last year who is now living in the Ihouse with all the gaijin (foreigners) threw us a welcome party. Was a blast. Up way too late and everything, but hey thats normal here. See, most other students start class like 11am and end at like 2... I dont mind, for a month I can draw up some super powers. Everyone is so wonderful here that I dont want to miss a thing.

Friday night was a chill night. We took a test Friday (I got 94/115 others got it out of 111, no idea what the difference is.) And afterwards just had a few beers and hung out doing nothing. A rare and valuable thing, but often feels like we missed out.

Well we made up for it the next two days. Saturday was the day trip to Nara, seeing all the same temples I saw last year but still enjoying the company and such. I spent a lot of the day talking to one of Zack's conversation partners Izumi. I have noticed this year the American to Nihonjin ratio on trips and such is rather low this year which makes it hard to pracitce Japanese. I was glad to get the practice in.

Afterwards we went to a bar with Paul (program co-ordinator) briefly. He couldnt really hang out since he has a 2 year old and one on the way, but we happened to run into a group of the conversation partners and they invited us to a nomihodai. (all you can drink) Now they arent stupid, service was rediculously slow, especially for one of the most customer service oriented customers in the world. All you can drink came with lots of food (none of which I could eat) and lasted 2 hours, but it took about 20 mins to get my next drink every time. We ordered a couple rounds of shots that were much more like spoonfulls. Still, everyone was absolutely wonderful, especially Yoshiki who seemed to be running the show. Out late meant walking home about 20 mins from Kamigamo Jinja (jinja = shrine) in the rain, but I didnt mind at all.

Sunday - was the best day yet by far. We met Meg (YAY!) and Mariko (my conversation partner from 2 years ago) at Shijo station and went to Osaka to meet Chikara, Isson, Keiji, and Tsu-kun who were all CPs from last year. It was rediculously hot and humid in Osaka, but still just soo much fun to see everyone. Was really just a wonderful day. Makes me wish we could have lots more time to just hang out like last year rather than just make them show us around random places.


Monday - like I said, Japanese really hasnt gotten any easier for me. I keep making fun of Onozaki sensei calling him kibishi sensei. Kibishi means strict, and Kishi is another teacher that runs the program but is mostly too busy to actually teach us now. Today we got to have Kishi sensei for the first time, and it was a nice change. Onozaki sensei gives 0 english and 0 furigana. (furigana is the readings so you can at least pronounce kanji you dont know) In many ways this is very good, Kishi sensei actually gives too much furigana, for words that we should have known long, long ago. But the 4-5 word explinations of new gramar in english make everything click. Back to Onozaki sensei tomorrow, who is already in full swing sending us links in Japanese we cant read on our presentation topics. I picked noodles, well... mostly because I couldnt think of a god damned thing. Should be interesting.

Right now I am in the computer lab pretending I am actually studying. Planning on reading wikipedia about noodles.... well assuming I dont spend all night tagging pics. If I do you may see some new ones!

Links of the day!

I have not been at the computer at all lately, so I dont have crap. Hopefully you found this post somewhat interesting.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


(shashin - pictures)

Well.... theyre up. At least some of them. I forgot I cant use "&", "@" etc or the XML freaks out. (sorry non computer geeks!)

Anyway, theyre up. Go look at em and make fun of me. I'm used to it, especially in a country where I dont know the language and a class I am the worst student in. Tomorrow we all get to fail our first test. If only there was a SINGLE sentance in english to explain WHEN and HOW to use the new grammar. Examples alone dont do it for any of us.

I've been so negitive lately. I am having fun. I just really want to learn as much as possible while I am here and I've been feeling like I've been sliding backwards. Oh well, to bed with me!

Links of the day!

Where the hell is Matt Gotta give credit to Zain for this one. Watch the video- it rocks

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


(okotteru - pissed off)

Well, looks like no pictures for you. God damned retarded firewall here wont even let me ftp them up to post on the blog. Not sure just how I can get around it other than waste time and money at an internet cafe.

Class is otherwise going well except I have absolutely no idea what to pick for my presentation. If I dont pick something I am interested in, it will show and therefore suck. Last year I had the same problem and had to leave it for the last second and it really showed.

The days are so very short here. Wake up at 7:30, eat, shower, then class from 8-4. After that come back, relax and chat for ~90 mins, and then eat, do homework, and play on the computer a bit before bed. Problem is I cant do shit from behind this stupid firewall, especially with my computers going constantly offline. Unless we have been having power outages at the house due to the heatwave, I am severely dissapointed in eBox.

I'm really not as in bad of a mood as it seems by this. But this firewall thing is just pissing me off. The speech topic also has me very worried. Time for bed.

Links of the day!


Monday, June 23, 2008


(Tsukareta - exhausted.. well not quite that extreme)

Today was the first day of school. I just finished my homework a bit ago and now I am sitting in the computer room sipping on some Oni Kuroshi sake.

Sorry I havent put up any pics yet or blogged much, but I have been busy adjusting. I really want to do as well as I can here. This is the last program, and at some point I have to become a real adult and take on some responsibilities that wont just let me run off to Japan whenever I want.

That said, I have my work out for me. Class entirely in Japanese, textbook entirely in Japanese, (kanji with no furigana) and so far it has been a little difficult. Our main teacher, Onozaki sensei, speaks at a deafining pace. I litterally was physically knocked back twice today while he spoke. Still, for the most part I get the meaining, he seems to give a lot of unneccesary information. Or at least I hope so. ^^;

I hear my friends at work are working very hard without me. Believe me, this is no vacation. I really want to do as well as I can. I am speaking way too much english though, and it seems like everyone is having trouble breaking the ice with their conversation partners this year.

Hmm, not much else to say. I do miss everyone. It is very dificult to call home at a decent time with school going. I really havent wanted to be in front of the computer much either, which is most of the problem with tagging and uploading pics. I had the firewall almost completely defeated the other day, but either my config changed or they fixed my little hole.

Alright, bedtime.

Links of the day!

eh- lazy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


(Kyoto Sangyo de - at Kyoto Sangyo)

Yup, I made it. Very quiet here right now with just about everyone either not here yet or currently in school, but thats fine. I am doing laundry and have already called my parents and V, who didn't anwser of course.

Today seems like it will be a quiet one, which is pretty fine by me. It will be busy very soon. The best news is I got a hold of my friend from 2004 Kiyomi. Last year I wasn't able to track down her email, but Meg got it for me last night. Thanks Meg!

Not much more to say, I am glad I can finally stop living out of a suitcase and make myself at home

Links of the day!

The great Office War I know it's probably old, but I just found it yesterday.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


(madaikiteru? ‐still alive?)

sure would be nice to know my parents know I'm alive. I'm begining to think theyre the ones who died in a plane crash...

So, in a probably stupid move, heres my cell email: replace the 2 _'s with my age 3 years ago. (hey I'm not that stupid)

Anyone else who I like and knows the answer feel free to say hi.dont get too chatty tho, it is a prepaid cell afterall.

Tomorrow I enter the dorm meaning reliable power and net access.

Be sure to check twitter on the right side of the page (assuming the baracuda doesnt eat it) as it is updated most often.

Monday, June 16, 2008


(Kyoto ni iru = In Kyoto)

Yes Ⅰ am in Kyoto, the trip was long. but I made it. I am staying at a nice little Ryokan and already got my cell phone hooked up. The ryokan does not have internet and apparently power I can use, so my cell phone just died a bit ago.

I am also not sure yet if my parents know if I am alive dispite repeated attempts to email them, so I thought I would spend 500yen (~$5) on an hour at an internet cafe and let a Japanese keyboard fight me tooth and nail as I type this.(Cant seem to get it to stay in normal-width characters, so thats why this is so large.The Japanese cant tell the difference.)

I would just remote-control my home pc and be done with it, but it seems all my pcs are off line... of course. (Reboot blue pc please parental units)

This morning I woke up early and went to Kyomizudera. I was hoping to get some pics on a day there wasnt a billion people there, and for the most part I succeeded. After that I headed in search of my favorite place in Kyoto- Teramachi. That is where I am now. So many memories. Shakeys,places Kyle shopped for clothes,the place with the HUGE sundaes, all the places we lost Trevor in... It is good to be back.

Unfortunately my friends are all currently busy with work or school, so I am on my own for now. No matter, the weather is very nice today, (at least for Kyoto this time of year) not too hot and not too humid, but still far more humid than home.

Right now I see its about 9:30pm on Monday. For me its 3;30pm Tuesday. Hello from the future.

Plans for the rest of the day include finding a bank so I can withdraw enough money for the Ryokan. I have to check out tomorrow but will check in to a nearby much cheaper one for the last nite til I enter the dorms. Heres hoping that one has power.

Parents- i emailed both Dad at work and Mom at home.My email address is very weird so check your spam filters. Its a string of random characters

It is nice to be able to relax a bit, I certainly need it. However I am hoping to get as much Japanese practice as possible before I start classes. We shal see.

Links of the day!

AJapanese Keyboard What I am fighting right now. Notice how small the spacebar is and that all Punctuation is in completely different places. In case you havent noticed, Ihave no idea where the apostrophe is.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


(Modoru - to return)

Ive been meaning to write this for awhile, but I have been so busy. Right now is my last few hours to get anything done, and I'm really not sure what to do with myself.

I am returning to Kyoto tomorrow morning. Of course I arrive the following evening... and I dont have my confirmation yet on how to get from the airport to my place... Whatever, I'll figure it out.

Yes I am going back. People keep asking me if I am excited. ATM more nervous. I am not very confident in my Japanese skills and this time it's a 3rd year college course. All I know is I will do my best.

Last nite I saw Hulk, great movie. Tonight going out with other friends, probably to see Indy. So I got to get to work.

Links of the day!

How to stalk me- everything is linked here anyway, including the top right of the site and the sidebar.
Twitter I love it. I will be sending updates from my cell phone and will get replies at night at my computer
DigsbyThat chat window on the right. It is way more than that though, its by far the best IM client I've ever used and it is still in early beta. Check it out.
GalleryWhere my pictures will go assuming I can get it to work. I am so leaving my webhost when I get home. Btw- link subject to change. Ill update the navigation but I might forget this post.