Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Best Laid Plsna, Plnas, Whatever

I had a post for today, then I didn’t. Well, something like that.

Worked on the review of a couple pens I’ve had for a while and even broke out a digital scale from the kitchen to see how much they weigh. I wrote a few lines and then checked the photos I’d taken.

That’s where the technical difficulties ensued. The picture files were fine, they just weren’t that good. This means I’ll have to go back to the drawing, er, picture board, before I’ll be willing to post them.

Some of this is stems from my experimenting with using a smartphone and/or a tablet for all my photos. This, of course, is a way of saying I’m too lazy to dig out and set up my regular camera equipment with its awesome lenses.

Tomorrow I’ll work on better pictures and then try to post everything. Or I’ll take better pictures and put off processing them until Wednesday. Either way, at least I have part of the writing done.

Although, knowing me, I’ll probably end up rewriting it all anyway.

Bad Memory Makes Bad Decisions

I would have sworn I had another year.

I think I set an alert for it, but it may have been on a different program than the one I’m using now.

Now I have decide to travel or not.

My Kansas driver’s license expires in November and this wouldn’t be that big of a deal except it makes it difficult and expensive for me to get and keep a Japanese driver’s license. I’ve written before about how complicated it is to get a license in Japan if you’re from a country that’s not Canada and drives on the correct side of the road (right).

This means I now have to decide if and when to go back. Going back will, oddly, save me money as Japan’s training courses are quite expensive. I can apply for a six month extension and then go back for Christmas and New Year but then I have to decide to go back by myself or take the girls. Since only two of the three girls are interested (She Who Must Be Obeyed is not) it may end up just myself and the kids. (Note: our oldest, being a teenager, is not interested in anything.)

Or, I may just go back by myself.

I have to decide soon, though. And I traditionally make bad decisions when air travel and money are involved. (More on all of this in a future post.)

Plans and Other Strange Things

I’ve got plans. That’s not the problem.

Spent part of the day trying to organize this blog so that I can get through some reviews of things I’ve had a long time. Somewhere in there I also managed to clean four pens and change the ink flavors each was loaded with. That actually took a long time thanks to one pen, but more on that in a future post.

I also tried to plan out the remainder of the Sunday course I’m teaching. I’ll be teaching it until the end of October and then may or may not be teaching it.

Tomorrow I’ll be working, but it will actually be a different version of the class (long story) that’s been planned by someone else. My job is simply show up and keep people speaking English.

I’m also working on clearing out the last of the ink inventory that I’ve assembled (after acquiring a couple more bottles of a popular, hard to find flavor). That’s complicated by being back at work and waiting for days off so that I can send emails and box ink for shipping.

I’ve got the plans laid out, but I’m still trying to find the follow-through. I’m pretty sure it’s buried next to this box of ink that needs selling.

A Little Less Conversation a Little More Mercy

It will cost me money, but it’s totally worth it.

I’ve been substituting for a teacher while he’s on a work related trip, but today he contacted me and said he plans to take the class over.

Although it costs me money I was like “yeah, sure, please”.

This leaves me with a much needed entire day off and a chance to sleep in a little. It’s been a long eleven days.

Of course, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I decided to have a date night (that was sort of sabotaged by our oldest). We couldn’t go to a local beef festival, but we did manage to go to a couple local places.

Now it’s bed time and I’m looking forward to it enough that I’m actually falling asleep as I write this.

I hope my readers are not.

Long Day Short Post

Been pondering one of my daily habits, mostly because lately it seems to be neither daily nor a habit.

For a couple years I’ve been writing a “daily” list of 10 ideas on various topics, business ideas and writing ideas, but lately it’s been more of a burden than a benefit.

It’s useful for testing pens and paper, but leaves me with a lot of random sentences on random topics. It may be one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time, and maybe it was, but now it would be scanned.

I have an impressive stack of notebooks full of ideas, but mostly they just take up space. I’ve got a few ideas for how to deal with them (tossing the batch is around idea seven) or at least bring more focus to them.

But more on that in a future post, after some rest.


The Irritability Factor

I’ve mentioned before that I’m in the middle of a long work push with no full breaks for thirteen days. I didn’t think I was doing too badly until the last couple days.

Suddenly I find myself irritable in class with a patience level somewhere between “extremely low” and “hair trigger”. Suddenly having new students in my JHS 1 classes hasn’t helped as they’ve changed the dynamic and they are in the “let’s test the limits” phase of class.

Granted, being irritable helps crush some of that testing, which, eventually goes away as they get used to my rules and my voice. Me being irritable also makes them long to be back in the class they just left. For that, I’m happy to oblige.

I told them all they have to do is get an 80% on their next exam and their former teacher will take them back.

This means, of course, that I’m stuck with them until the end of the school year.

Quad Field Notes Leather Notebook Cover–Long Term Review

I’ve carried the Quad Field Notes Leather Notebook Cover from Old Church Works in Andover, Kansas for over nine months and I’m pleased to say it’s aged well. I just wish it were a little thinner and little softer.

I’ve written before how I got the Quad Cover to replace the Midori Traveler’s Passport sized cover. My main gripes with the Passport were that it fit only notebooks that were smaller than i was interested in carrying and that it had an annoying metal bit strapped to the outside.

However, the one thing Traveler’s gets right is the leather itself. It is the perfect weight and starts out soft and flexible which makes it comfortable to use and carry.

In the case of the Quad, the 6-7 ounce leather cover has developed a nice patina, but it remains too stiff to lay flat without forcing it by bending the cover around backward. I find that one hand has to hold the cover down while I write.

The Quad Cover's leather has aged well.

The Quad Cover’s leather has aged well.

This thickness and stiffness also make it bulky in the pocket, especially when carried with a full complement of four notebooks or, in my case, three. I feel as if every time I use it, I need to bend the cover back and forth a few times just to soften it up a bit. It reminds me of breaking in leather boots.

This is about as flat as the Quad cover sits by itself.

This is about as flat as the Quad cover sits by itself.

That said, everything else about the Quad is terrific. The straps have held up well. With the Traveler’s I kept having to tighten the binding strap that holds the cover closed, but I haven’t had to do that with the Quad. When I’m writing while standing, the stiff leather cover actually comes in handy by providing a solid writing surface.

I also think the Quad is the perfect size. I can use every type pocket notebook I own (precise number: too many) without having parts of them stick out.  If the leather were a touch thinner and more supple it would be perfect. I hope Old Church Works experiments with lighter leather.

The current bundle of notebooks: A Monokaki sandwiched between two Calepinos

The current bundle of notebooks: A Monokaki sandwiched between two Calepinos

I Still Don’t Like Mondays

I usually try to remain cheerful and friendly for a first class, but my students today were having none of it.

My worst students in my (current) worst class decided to live up to their reputation by causing trouble. One student didn’t have his summer homework but claimed he’d left it in another class. I told him to go get it but he seemed to think that the claim that he’d completed it was sufficient to count it as completed. He put his head down and tried to go to sleep. I woke him up and we had exactly the same conversation until he started at least pretending to write.

Another student tried playing dumb about what he was supposed to do until I pointed out there were Japanese instructions on the paper. He then acted as if he was being sneaky by copying the example sentences put there for him to copy.

I did manage to remain calm, but it’s a bad start to the week when your first class on Monday goes that way.

The rest of the day went better, but I don’t like Monday’s schedule: three classes in a row, then nothing for three hours. I get a lot of prep work done, but it’s still an oddly exhausting day. Then again, with the kind of start today had, it’s hard to keep the energy flowing.

Working Sabbath Days

Note: As happens only occasionally, I revised yesterday’s post to correct a silly mistake and add some much needed detail. I think it’s a much better post now. The accuracy helps a lot, too.

A friend of mine once gave a compelling defense of mandatory sabbaths. He said that it’s good for everyone if everyone is forced to take a day off.

I kind of wish I’d listened to him.

Right now I’m on course to work, in some form or another, for 13 days straight with only a couple afternoons off. Because of this I’ve become a lazy slob in the evenings (well, more so than usual, technically) as a way to get some “time off”.

Granted, some of those days I’m only working for a couple hours (travel time included) but it throws off my rhythm especially as it is from 8-9 in the morning.

As a result, I’ll be shortening these posts substantially, especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I’m teaching a night class and not getting home until after eleven.

On Tuesdays I have extra down time and could write posts in the afternoon, but I would rather use the time to focus on other things.

The Saturday class will end soon, though, and that will help a lot. Tuesdays and Thursdays, well, that’s different. Not sure how those will change.


Rules and Sweets on Culture Day

Note: This post was edited on 9/11/2016 to correct a mistake and add some information.

Today was the start of the annual school festival at the school our oldest attends.

She participated in the opening ceremony, but first we had to wait because it turned out that the festival didn’t open until 11 although we were told it would open at 10. Although we had to wait, we did get good spots to see our oldest play and the flag team perform.

No pictures or video though, that’s one of the rules.

Once we got inside we got our parent badges which granted us permission to take photos and videos inside the school. Members of the public without badges are forbidden from taking pictures.

This is because the members of the public included a large group of fairly suspicious looking men who appeared to be there by themselves and a surprisingly large troupe of police watching the outside. I’m not sure if the two things were connected, but this school has enough historical tradition behind it that, oddly, it has attracted its own class of perverts called “******mania” (Note: the asterisks conceal the school’s nickname not the word this father would use for them.)

Think of someone with a fetish for Catholic school girls in uniform–and you know who you are–and you’ll get the idea.

After getting our badges, we went in search of ice cream. Each homeroom puts on some kind of display. That can be selling and serving sweets or hosting silly carnival games. We had ice cream, then cookies, then played a game and had a student demonstrate a really cool touch-screen digital globe.

The main complaint I had, and this also applies to the festival at the school where I work, is that only sweets or instant ramen noodles can be served. Nothing that can go bad is ever served, which means no hot dogs, hamburgers or chicken. Also, although some drinks were offered coffee was not.

I eventually ran away to escape the crowd. I never did actually get a chance to see our oldest, which meant I never got a chance to embarrass her directly in front of her friends.

Unfortunately I can’t be there tomorrow when there will most likely be a larger crowd. The festival is one part advertising and one part inviting boys from other high schools to meet the girls. (It is an all-girls high school after all.)

Perverts and teen-aged boys. A father really ought to be there for that.