Teaching In Socks

box forts
March 4, 2010, 4:32 pm
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I didn’t intend to take a month off, however it appears that’s how long it takes to move and get Internet in Japan.  Actually, it takes a few days less than that, but if complain about NTT not giving you your Internet password information for a few days while also not checking your mailbox  that is exactly how long it takes.

During the process, I have learned a couple of interesting new tidbits about Japan:

1. The moving process is not enjoyable, not in any country, not ever.

2. A fourth-floor walk-up is a fourth-floor walk up even in Japan where it seems like the stairs are miniature stairs.

3. The Ikea in Kobe is exactly like the Ikea in New Jersey which is both great and terrible.

4. In Japan you can bargain with the sales staff even in the big-box electronics stores. This really surprised; not only have I been getting ripped off but I have been missing out on the thrill of used-car dealership-type negotiations.

Still, it’s great to be in a new apartment. I have a great view of the Akashi Bridge and Awaji island in the new place. Also, I have real furniture that didn’t come with the apartment and is not bolted down in any way.

The new place considerably bigger than my old one (but still small) full of appliances, Ikea furnishings  and a bunch of empty cardboard boxes. Why do I still have all of these boxes? Because in Japan there is a proper way to do everything and in Japan that way with boxes is to cut them into tiny pieces, wrap the pieces into bundles with string and then dispose of those bundles ONLY (ONLY!) on the first Saturday of every month.  Anything else is is an insult to your neighbors (and yourself).

I find this box-disposal methodology a bit cumbersome. It’s a lot of work for something they’re probably just going to incinerate. Also, the waiting time is a far cry from New York, where you could bring anything from your apartment outside and put it on the curb at anytime of the day on any day of the week and within hours that item that you put on the curb would become part of someone else’s home. The upshot of Japan’s way of doing things is that the neighborhood doesn’t always smell like trash; my apartment however, smell like cardboard boxes. Obviously, the only viable solution is to build a box fort in my apartment and just live in the fort until the night before the first Saturday of the month, at which time the fort will have to be sieged and raised. It’s the only logical solution, but that may be the box fumes talking.

Try “Teaching in Socks” with Juice
January 13, 2009, 5:19 pm
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While this weekend rounded up week one of re-entry for me, Japan is very much still in the orbit of holiday bargains. I made the mistake of heading to Sannomiya and was swept up by the sea of people that had arrived with intentions of commerce.  It didn’t help that I arrived sans lunch, in the afternoon, just around tea time. It took us twenty minutes of quietly swearing to myself before we were able to find a cafe.

One of the bargain-sale traditions in Japan is to sell mystery boxes; boxes at varying price levels, only with the size marked on them– what’s inside could either be cheaper than the price you paid, or more expensive–hence a bargain. The thrill of a good gamble interested me greatly and I went looking for a box that I could roll the dice on. This search eventually took me to my favorite place, Kamo Soccer store. Unfortunately, their bargain boxes started at 5,000-yen (about $55) and ran all the way up to 20,000-yen. I stood over a 5,000-yen  level box for a while and tried to think of what mystery items in the store that I want for about sixty bucks. After about ten minutes I realized I didn’t want to waste cash on the possibility of spending it on a Christiano Ronaldo Jersey and matching hair product, or a Frank Lampard kit with matching Chelsea key Chain. Contributing money to these causes would inspire an existential crisis I did not want to begin the year with.  I headed home empty handed, I need to commit the desire to gamble on attire purchases with something less personal than football allegiances.

I did get to see my first snow (yuki) in Japan,  but it was nothing more than a few minutes of flurries. Hopefully something a bit more substantial is on the way.

Now I know there are ad wizards on both sides of the Pond Lake, but for your comedic enjoyment…. Want a healthy and exciting snack but lack culinary skills or basic concepts of creativity? Do you like taking thrilling risks such as opening doors and looking at other people’s televisions? Want to eat a cracker and get your daily serving of fruit, but are unclear or unsure of the the proper way accomplish  this? Then try Ritz crackers… with Juice!

"Ritz, setting 'mofo's' like you free since 1972"

"Ritz, setting 'mofo's' like you free since 1972"

Nabisco FAIL