Laurence came to visit me. It was only for a night though. I staff member had a death in his family so I couldn’t take a day off. It was nice to see Laurence for a few hours. He came down with his friend Bill. Bill, Laurence, and Fleur all went to the same high school. This was really my first chance to spend some time with Bill. I had met him a few times at Oberlin and often heard of him, but I never spent much time in a small group with him. After spending some time with him, I came to a startling revelation about Bill, Laurence, and Fleur. My epiphany was this; if any two of the three people in that friendship’s DNA was combined the resulting human being would be the third person in the trifecta! I have checked all the permutations, they all work:
B + L = F
F + B = L
L + F = B
Bill was really cool, but then why wouldn’t he be? He could be recreated by godless genetic engineering using Fleur and Laurence’s DNA, so of course he would be cool!
Laurence got me a Christmas present, Project Grizzly. It is about a guy, get this he is from Canada, that invents a suit that he believes can withstand a grizzly attack. The guy is borderline insane, and tests the suit by doing things like: getting shot while in it, getting hit by a giant log, having bickers beat him up, getting hit by a truck going 50km/h. It always works out though. Unfortunately he can’t move so well in it. I would think that the ability to move and not fall down (which he cannot right himself from) would be pretty important in say, the Canadian Rockies, but such fancy book learnin’ doesn’t sit well with our hero Troy. He doesn’t feel that the ability to bend one’s leg is important while hiking. I don’t hike so maybe I’m wrong about the whole flexibility issue. Watch the movie and discover who is right, the physics major or the Canadian in the beer, errr bear, suit that bankrupted him at least once cost him his marriage and destroyed the last shred of his sanity. All in all, the movie was awesome and Laurence is the man for getting me such a gift.
While Laurence was here, Dan, Laurence, and I went to JJ Club 100. It use to be 100 円 for 15 minutes, but now it is 100 円 for 10 minutes. That is still a great deal given that all the machines are on free play, but still that is a 33% price hike. I got to play Tokyo Bus driver simulator, Laurence was enthralled with the arm wrestling game. That culminated in a “test of strength” which involved Laurence running and throwing himself against the mechanical arm, that pulled down 50km/m^2 which we in the biz would call 50 Newtons. This did not get him on the high score list, we were all disappointed.
It was really great to see Team Canada again, and play a ton of Smash Brothers. It was just like college, only Eric wasn’t there to ruin the game with such stupid things like “actual skill” and “ability”. Which means I could win, and win I did!
Katie and my plan to go to China for the break nears fruition. All I have to do is go down to the travel agency and pick up our passports. Mari, our friendly travel agent, has not called me yet, but I have faith she will and I will get our precious Chinese visas. The visa process itself has made me want to be Emperor of Japan even more. Not only will I eliminate the Hanaten stop on the train line from Daito to Osaka, but I will also make the Chinese embassy be open reasonable hours or tell them to leave. The embassy is open Monday – Friday 9:30 – 2:30 with an hour and a half lunch break. The only way I could get to them was take a day off, or sneak away when I had no classes that day. How utterly annoying!
I get to the embassy and they tell me I need a whole bunch of other forms, and Katie needs to be there in person. I don’t know where city hall is, but I need to know in order to get my form, which I don’t know its name. And it will be in Japanese. This was a low point in my quest. I was pretty sure I would have to abandon the project. I was mad that the agency thought I was clever enough to do this by myself, and that I thought I was clever enough to think I could do this by myself, AND that I wasn’t clever enough to do this by myself, AND ESPECUALLY that the Chinese Embassy was being really annoying about the whole thing. So I went back to the travel agency and threw myself on their mercy. Mari soon came and made it all better. Mari called the embassy and I handed my passport over for her to “Make it so.” The bad news was that Katie needed to get her info to Mari super quick. Katie’s Japan alter ego, ケイシ (Keishi), worked late that night and couldn’t get to the post office in time. So guess who made the trip down to Osaka to hand deliver her passport info?
Katie & modern Transportation Museum
I was at work and Katie got the stuff done at the travel agency. Thanks to my amazingly drawn crude map. She then wondered the Undercity for a while as I finished up work. It has been parent teacher conferences so that is not a full day for me. I got out around 2 and met her at Bentencho Station because we were headed to the Modern Transportation Museum. That’s right, we are that obsessed. I nearly swooned when I got to sit in the first shinkansen’s control room and touch the buttons and break. They had the whole train in the building. The museum was dedicated to “modern” transportation but it was all about trains. As a comparison, there were maybe 4 automobiles on the premises and two small airplanes, boats were represented by models and one room with some propellers and such. Compare this to the fact that there were over 7 actual train engine cars, a few full trains, and many cars that had been cut up so you could see how they worked. I know that this may sound pathetic to those that do not know the joy of a well run public transportation, but once you have seen how awesome a great train system like JR in conjunction with the other Osaka private companies are, you really do get giddy over this stuff. The prospect of going back and driving places has some charm, but I know it will get old really quick. I love trains. Especially city trains. I doubt I would be so gung-ho about them if I lived where there was one train every 30~90 minutes, but trains roll out of even the Osaka suburbs at a rate of about one train 3~10. In the city it is half that rate. I LOVE TRAINS!
I’m the happiest Hoo down in all of Hooville today. It snowed! It really snowed. It was wonderful, and terrifying. The people here don’t know how to deal with snow (it seems that is a theme in all of Japan actually) so things get a little crazy, but it is snow near Christmas, so I don’t care! Snow! This snow has snapped me out of my malaise holi-daze.
I wore a shirt my grandmother got me to school today. The shirt has about 5 Santa’s stacked on top of each other forming a Christmas tree pattern. They each have an LED on their belt buckle. All the lights blink. The kids went absolutely crazy over it. Thanks to watching Pokemon I recognized the word “pika” which means “flash of light” when the kids were yelling at me. Even many of my best English kids were reduced to only being able to yell in Japanese at the sight of the awesomeness of my shirt. It really went over well. It made me happy. I think I will wear it all day now. I need to run out and get my visa and top off Christmas shopping. It should be a snap since I will probably get out of work a little earlier than usual due to the fact it is the last day of school before break.
Pass the roast beast stew! Where’s Cindy Loo Hoo the littlest Hoo? I want to give her a hug. My heart bursts because it is now three sizes too big! Snow!
Now I need to settle down for some Japanese Christmas traditions. Here are the major three that are very different than ours. On Christmas Eve you go on a big expensive date. There is also Christmas cake, and on Christmas Day you eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken. I kid you not, they have a sign up sheet because the place is so popular. Every fast food joint offers fried chicken because that is what they eat on Christmas. I doubt I can get into KFC for Christmas, but maybe I can hit MOS Burger or something. My guess is I’m going to try to go into the city and eat at a Mexican restaurant that I really like. Okay, so it isn’t turkey but a burrito feels more Christmas than anything else I can get here.