Monthly Archives: September 2016

I Dare You to Call My Bluff Again

Three students from yesterday’s post tried to call my bluff which meant I had a lunch date.

All three tried to make a joke of it in class and in doing so made enough noise that they almost earned the entire class more homework. Instead, I delivered a memo that looked as if it had been written in blood (gotta love the Chiller font) to their homeroom teacher and they arrived on time and managed to eke out a few sentences.

To show I can be reasonable, I kept them 25 minutes and then reduced their homework by a small percentage before telling them they had until 8:30 tomorrow morning to get the completed homework on my desk.

If they don’t, I might have another lunch date. We’ll see if they try to call my bluff again.

Sudden Fits of Madness and Bluffiness

Any careful consideration of the situation will confirm that everyone is going slightly mad at the school where I work. This is especially true of the students.

It doesn’t help that yesterday I broke one of my rules–don’t bluff–by telling my 9th graders that they’d have to stay after school if they didn’t start memorizing their speech contest speeches. I didn’t even require that they memorize all of it, just the first half. Keep in mind, I couldn’t actually stay after school when I told them that. Luckily I apparently have enough of a reputation that the remaining students managed to finish their speeches relatively quickly.

Then, today, one of my worst classes had to turn in punishment homework from last week. After much tension, they finally realized I was serious about them coming in at lunch time every day until they finished.

Enough put in enough effort (after they finished work in my class) that I made them a deal: if I get their homework by 8:30 a.m. tomorrow, I’d give them points. If they didn’t, they’d meet me at lunch.

Once again, I have enough of a reputation that only a few students are in danger of having a longer homework.

I’m glad it all seems to be working out, but I prefer a little less stress.

Before Me, Therefore Because of Me.

Despite my best efforts to hustle, I missed the train by that much.

In fact, when I was halfway up the stair case, I heard the doors close. It then teased a minute by sitting still with the doors closed until I reached the top step. Then the train pulled away.

(Note: yes, everything happens because of me.)

This put me on a later train, that left me a few minutes and a bit of hustle from catching a good train. As I may have mentioned before, If I catch the 10:32 I get home at 11:10 or so. If I catch the 10:44, I get home at 11:44.

Unfortunately, the later train became the “how f@#king late is this thing?” train and I even missed the 10:44.

However, there was an express leaving soon after that and I was shocked at how empty it was. I even managed to get a seat, which was the only good thing about the delays. I ended up getting home at 11:44 and this is the result.

Now, it’s bed time.

Writing For Others For Yourself

It’s sent. Now I wait.

I spent part of today writing up the letters I needed to send to the Kansas Department of Revenue in order to attempt to renew my Kansas driver’s license. This is the kind of writing I hate doing more than almost anything else

(Note: “anything else” includes business-related phone calls in ear-shot of other people, singing karaoke and having my eyes scooped out with a spoon.)

(Note 2: I am usually the one doing the eye scooping if I’m unable to escape singing karaoke.)

My BS detector can’t get past the tone of the writing. It all seems artificial and transparent and I can’t imagine anyone taking it seriously.

Also, the more important the writing is, the less confidence I have in my ability to produce something coherent. Even Kimberly is like “you’re on your own now, loser. I can’t watch this disaster take place and still live with myself. This stinks so bad even you should be able to smell it”. My reaction is, of course, “why you always gotta go to the sense of smell thing?”

My second reaction is “Loser? Really?”

Complicating matters, I had to write a letter for my department head and then persuade her to both approve it and sign it. (Luckily, she did.)

Now it’s all been sent and there’s nothing to do but wait. And save yen. I may be scheduling a trip in a couple weeks.



Ink Hunt on New Floors

Went on an ink hunt today and emerged with a few new flavors. Also got kind of confused by changes.

After work I head to Nihonbashi to track down ink at Maruzen. Luckily there were a few flavors available, which kept the trip from being a complete waste.

That luck was followed by a long walk to Ginza to go to K.Itoya. That’s when things got confusing. Itoya is divided into two buildings. K.Itoya is the back alley shop where fountain pens are sold. It even has a fountain pen sign on the outside. G.Itoya is an Apple store for stationery.

However, today, I went into K and found planners and calendars and, after a trip to the third floor, finally found a temporary map that led me over to G.

It seems that in the scant couple weeks since I was last there, everything has been moved, giving the fountain pen section the entire third floor.

It was a nice surprise, but the limited edition ink I went there to find was long gone, making half the trip wasted.

Still, not a bad trip. I’ve gone there and come up empty before, and I don’t must mean my wallet.

Graduating to the Big Cups

Our oldest looked up from her phone for a second to mumble something that sounded like “yeah, that one’s okay” before returning to Twitter. In her defense, my response was similar.

Our youngest, however, was more involved.

Our girls passed a milestone in their lives today, although one was forced to wait longer than the other and hasn’t technically made a decision: they got to choose their own drinking cups.

This seems like a small thing, but it was a big deal for our youngest because she not only chose a cup, she paid for it with her allowance. She did this at a flea market sponsored by her elementary school.

Of course, being related to me, there is a certain contrarian streak involved.

She Who Must Be Obeyed also went to the flea market and, despite my best efforts to hide as much money as possible, she managed to find enough coins scattered about in the sofa and on the floor to purchase a pair of annoyingly cute cups. Because the cups feature a character that our youngest likes, SWMBO seemed to figure these would be the cups to rule them all.

However, our youngest is in a Pokemon phase and she found a cup with five Pokemon characters on it. This is now her official cup.

I’ll make sure she takes care of it. In fact, I think she’s going to have to wash lots of dishes to make sure it doesn’t accidentally get broken.


International Phone Calls and Government Agents

Today’s post can be blamed on the Kansas government.

Because my Kansas driver’s license is expiring this year and because I’d rather not spend a thousand dollars or more to travel home and renew it, I decided to call the Kansas Department of Revenue and beg for mercy.

Oddly, the voice who answered was surprisingly accommodating.

As a rule, I hate talking on the phone, although that’s mostly when other people are around, and I especially hate dealing with government agencies. I also hate being in line on the phone and paying international fees to stay on hold.

However, I called right after the office opened and ended up second in line. The voice I got, who never told me his name, listened to what I was saying and then put me on hold for several minutes. When he came back, he had a number of specific instructions for me to follow that may, emphasis on MAY, save me a thousand dollars or more.

I have to do some writing and some copying and some submitting and then a lot of praying, albeit with Claudius’ qualification:  My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: / Words without thoughts never to heaven go. 

I still might end up having to go home (note: I have to have a valid driver’s license from the USA to get and keep a Japanese driver’s license without having to spend even more money. Long story.) and if things don’t happen quickly, it will probably cost me more money, but it’s worth the risk. (Second note: I suspect my mother is saying a much different prayer…)

Tomorrow will be spent writing a letter that begs for mercy. This could get interesting.

Matters of Payback or Bad Timing

Mother nature added a cruel twist to the story in a previous post.

Although my Tuesday with the typhoon worked out well in the end, more or less, if you don’t count being soaked from the waist down, today mother nature was a bit cruel.

Today was Autumnal Equinox Day here in Japan which meant that our youngest and I were at home whilst our oldest went to club and She Who Must Be Obeyed went to work.

Unfortunately, mother nature brought the cool weather (which is good) but seasoned it with rain (which is ungood). Any desire to go outside was lost as was much energy to the calming sound of rain.

Tomorrow I’m off to the school where I work. It’s supposed to be raining tomorrow, too. I’ll see if Tuesday’s shoes have dried or if they are still wet. If they’re still wet, I might actually wear them.

When I get home, wet and miserable, it will be time to make holiday travel decisions.

Bah, humbug.

Wednesday Blues and Stuff

Any analysis of it, no matter what method you use, confirms that Wednesday’s suck.

When they try to call my bluff, though, it gets kind of fun.

For reasons I don’t understand (karma?) I somehow manage to have three bad classes on Wednesday.

It starts with a junior high first year class that, despite being “higher level” has fairly bad behavior. Today I played a yellow card/red card activity. This involves the students interviewing four other student under the rule “No Japanese”. If they use any Japanese, they get a yellow card. Three yellow cards equals a red card which equals 10 sentences of homework. (Long story.)

I then reset and they get a second set of yellow cards. A second red card means the homework doubles. Then they get another set of yellow and red cards and the homework doubles again.

The record is 160 sentences. Today’s class thought they, well, they weren’t thinking, and they ended up with 80 sentences of homework. They then mocked the notion that I would keep them during lunch or after school. They do not understand that I do this stuff for sport which means I expect a lot of surprised students next week.

After that, I have an hour to recover before I have my worse lower level junior high first year class. Today they were average. Noisy, but average.

Then, after lunch, I have my worse high school second year class. They were also pretty good, relatively speaking. The student who takes 20 minute toilet breaks thinks he’s being clever. I’m actually glad to be rid of him.

Please don’t tell him though. I’m afraid he’ll stay if he knows.

Weather, Trains and Technical Adultery

I suppose I was pre-disastered, but it actually wasn’t that much of a disaster. That had me worried.

With Typhoon Whatever (not its real name) on its way to Tokyo the first concern (after mudslides and drowning) are the state of the trains. Even with a little bit of rain, my train to work was delayed. I hurried on to it when it was on the platform–I was in such a hurry I boarded the non-air conditioned car–and then sat there for five minutes before the train moved. Then the train moved a few hundred yards and stopped between stations. I used the pause to move to an air conditioned car and then enjoyed the 40 minute version of my usual 15 minute train ride.

As the train filled with delayed travelers I also got pressed close enough to several people that I think it technically counted as adultery.

This train ride wouldn’t have been an issue except that I also had an evening class that was scheduled during the arrival of the typhoon. This wouldn’t have been an issue except that I would be in Tokyo and, on a good day, I don’t get home until 11:30 p.m. I was informed that I’d be informed around three in the afternoon if the evening class was cancelled or not.

At 4:00, after hearing nothing, I headed down to Tokyo. I was then taunted a bit by the obligatory arrival of news crews at Shinjuku Station. They traditionally set up shop at the large South exit and file nearly identical reports about the rain flowing down the street.

The trip to the office involved a 75% useless umbrella and resulted in wet feet and an ill temper.

Oddly, after all that foreshadowing, the night ended with a bit of deus ex machina that would ruin a movie. The storm decided to take an abrupt right turn and I was able to get home with little trouble.

Somehow, that has me worried.