Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fall has come and gone.

Ashiyasu Fall 2008-11-15 017 I promised a while back I'd snap some seasonal pictures and I finally managed to get a whole bunch of them a few weeks back. I completely forgot to post these pictures and only remembered because I was screwing around with my photo folder in windows media center.
Ashiyasu Fall 2008-11-15 019 Fall is kind of special to me because I've lived in southern California all my life. Southern California's seasons consist of a very long spring, summer, and short fall. So seeing trees leaves change colors is pretty neat. Plus, I prefer cold to heat and really like wearing coats and jackets. I think I only owned like one nice heavy jacket in the US... I own about five in Japan and they are used out of necessity rather than just fashion.
Ashiyasu Fall 2008-11-15 014 I snapped these pictures not very far from my own home. Since I live in the countryside, I can practically go out in any direction and find a nice wooded hill or mountain to snap pictures. Only during certain seasonal periods of the year do I actually appreciate living in the countryside of Japan because I really prefer city life more due to my upbringing.
Ashiyasu Fall 2008-11-15 016 I took them in the mountains overlooking my schools in Ashiyasu. Instead of driving out towards Mt. Fuji which I originally wanted to do, we went out to Ashiyasu where the leaves were actually quite beautiful and easy to get to. Weather has been bad on the weekends as of late so I missed the best leaves viewing near Mt. Fuji but at least I have the following pictures to share with all of you.
Ashiyasu Fall 2008-11-15 015 As of writing this entry, most of the trees around my area are either bare or really brown and dead looking. Snow has already capped most of the surrounding mountains and every morning I am greeted with a nice layer of ice on my car window that I have to chip away at with my trusty ice scraper. I am looking forward to seeing snow again but not the cold that it brings along. At least I live in a city now so the winds I complained about so much last year aren't as bad because of all the buildings that server as excellent windbreaks here.
These last two pictures were taken from my phone so their quality are significantly lower.

Nothing really to report. Business as usual here.

12527D~1 This is more of a filler entry than I'd like but I felt a strong need to update my neglected blog as of late. I'm getting more and more excited to head home for Christmas and its causing me to loose focus on work a little bit. For the past couple of weeks my schools have been on strange schedules because of festivals, tests, and other random events so I've been left with a really light schedule resulting in serious laziness on my part. This post is mostly for my mom who probably keeps clicking on this site hoping for updates.
AVATAR~3 See the picture to the right? That's the my digital representation of me on Xbox live. With the new Xbox 360 update, I am now able to access many new features like avatar creation. Ever since the end of October, I've managed to catch up with a lot of my Xbox 360 games I bought over the past year. I finally beat Lost Odyssey with all but one achievement, beat the snot out of Beautiful Katamari and it's online bonus levels, and also managed to chip away even further at Forza Motorsport 2. My Xbox 360 gives me about 75 percent of my weekly entertainment which helps keep the cost of life down and my gaming addiction strong. Another reason my Xbox 360 keeps me entertained is due to its system update that completely changed how it works and looks. I can now chat more with my friends through voice chat and watch Netflix movies instantly.
But enough about games, let's catch up a little bit with how my life's been going. I've finally managed to save money for the first month ever by meeting my target of 100,000 yen (1,000 US dollars.) I've been able to save money since I moved to my new apartment back in July but most of the money I saved each month before this one has been put into random things like my TV, unexpected bills, and my plane tickets to the US for Christmas.
$1,000 may seem like a drop in the bucket as far as savings go but it's a huge step in the right direction for me. Unfortunately, part of what I saved from last month will most likely go toward some new clothes and time well spent with my friends and family back in San Diego. If nothing unexpected comes up within the next year I should be on target to save at least $10,000 which I would use to settle my credit card balance and student loans. I really want to come back to the US debt free and I think its possible if I can continue to be tight with my money and pray Japan's cost of living doesn't skyrocket again like it did a few months ago.
I really hope my short 10 days in San Diego will be full of fun and good memories for me. I look forward to catching up with friends and also look forward to seeing my new nephew and the rest of my family in a few weeks.
I'm not sure if I will update my blog again before I head off to San Diego but if anything interesting comes up, I'll post it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A monkey with maracas and the fate of a nation.

571F66~1 Before I get into what the monkey is all about I want to briefly share my thoughts on the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. Despite both candidates being poor presidential nominees by each of their parties, one man had to win tonight. Although I have a lot of worries and misgivings about our new elected president I am taking a positive approach to all of this. I will try to be optimistic and pray that all the crazy scenarios about socialism taking over and the government being turned upside down single handedly by Obama's presidency will turn out to all be unfounded worries. I just pray that America doesn't become any worse off or change drastically in any way for religious groups, belief systems, and our financial class system. Maybe it is time for America to see what "change" can do. I just pray that its the kind of change that America's forefathers would agree with.
DC_MAR~1 Now that all that political garbage is out of my system let us move on to more interesting things (to me.) On one of my random visits to the local recycle shop, I happened to come across a very rare game peripheral I used to own about eight years ago. I found a boxed set of Samba De Amigo maracas in the Junk section of my local Hard-Off for only 525 yen. I had to take the chance and test them out even if I knew that they probably would either be broken or in real rough shape. When I got home, I fired up my inappropriately "junk" labeled Dreamcast and the maracas worked like a charm. So I got a game that will give me a little bit of a workout.
SAMBA0~1 Samba De Amigo was recently released on the Nintendo Wii a month ago but the game play turned out to be horribly broken due to the inaccuracy of the wiimote controllers. So I am incredibly pleased that I was able to pick up such an enjoyable game for such a low price. Heck, on eBay people are still getting just under 100 dollars for just the maracas. So I got a deal of a lifetime here for a simple budget gamer like myself. It seems as if I get all my electronics and entertainment items from junk shops. Cool for me.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Yokohama China Town

Yokohama China Town 001 Instead of heading out to the mountains to see the fall colors, I decided to tag along with Yuko's family for a day in Yokohama. I've never been to Yokohama before so I decided I'd rather go out for a nice FREE road trip.

I ended up eating at a decent Chinese buffet restaurant in China Town and snapped a few pictures of the area before I got bored being there. Personally, I think San Francisco's China Town is much more interesting but about 1000 times dirtier and smellier too. But at least San Francisco has cheaper food.
Yokohama China Town 002
Yokohama China Town 015
Yokohama China Town 018
After Yuko and I browsed through a few shops in China Town we ended up walking to the bay to check out the amusement park nearby. We rode on the Ferris Wheel and visited the haunted house. It was a pretty nice amusement park and the Ferris Wheel gave us a great view of the city.
Yokohama China Town 025
Yokohama is probably one of the nicer urban areas I've visited in Japan but still nowhere near as nice as my home town in sunny San Diego.
Yokohama China Town 031
The day in Yokohama passed by pretty quick and before I knew it I was back home in my warm bed by midnight that evening. Maybe I'll be able to snap some pictures of trees this weekend if the leaves haven't already fallen off by now. Enjoy the pictures!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

October has come and gone

give a s---- What's happened to me in the past few weeks? I can't even fully answer that question. This whole month has been what feels like one groundhog day after another.
I was trapped in a boring daily routine for about a month because I had to stay at school all day, every day to "help" out with speech contest practice. My time was mostly spent on my butt at my desk till 4:30 every day and then another hour after that coaching students because I had no classes due to weird scheduling changes, tests, and a plethora of festivals the school was planning and participating in. It was all due to seriously bad planning and it happens every year like clock-work without anybody doing one thing about it. Those Japanese sure are troopers. At least I don't have to participate in most of the things they do at school or I'd be completely burnt out and sick of school all together. At least there is one good thing about how I handle work; when I come home, work doesn't follow me. I am quite proud of that and it's probably the reason why I am comfortable working here.
1185354528052I look forward to starting the next school year because I do have a certain 1st year class at my base junior high that is more than a handful for all the staff. It basically was a case of not mixing the classes properly after the beginning of the year. I learned that there are a handful of students in the "problem" class that completely ruin any chance of enjoying school for the others because they have home problems and have had no discipline throughout their lives. Oh well, its their problem if they want to be bitter dorks so early on in life. They can enjoy their bleak futures in their monotonous dead end jobs for all I care.
Despite my very small complaints about school in Japan, work is pretty good. I mostly have good classes and great students who truly enjoy having classes with me. I will be a little sad to see this year's 3rd years move up to High School. Hopefully my company won't decide to add yet another school to my job or take more days/hours away from my original base school. I like my new schools but one day a week with them is more than enough time for me.
Outside of school activities, I haven't had much free time as I normally do to just sit around at home and screw around on the Internet with my friends back in San Diego. I have caught up on a few games in preparation for Gears of War 2. I decided I wouldn't buy Gears of War 2 if I didn't finish a couple of the games I bought a couple months back. So my nights have mostly consisted of late night gaming on my Xbox 360 and Sega Saturn.
I did get a couple of big things accomplished this month. Firstly, I paid off my plane tickets for my flight home over Christmas. I am really looking forward to seeing friends and family during my short 10 day stay. Hopefully I can sleep on the flight for once and stave off jet lag better than past trips.
2008 Presidential Overseas Ballot 002 The second big thing I got done was that I sent in my overseas vote for the 2008 presidential election. Thankfully, I haven't been taken up by the hysteria of Obamaina that the mainstream media has pushed on the American public. This is most likely due to the fact that I am not bombarded with their junk (the US mainstream media) on a daily basis and can see through the left biased mainstream media of America and understand that true journalism has dissevered. Everybody has an agenda they want to push, even if that means lower viewership of once popular news shows or falling sales of once large news papers.
Static-DynamicsThe main thing that bothers me about this election is that I can't stand seeing an unknown man with ties to shady figures in his past and isn't forthcoming with events in his upbringing and past getting so much attention by the media as if it were the second coming and Jesus was running for president... I also am very displeased how race has become a big factor in this election as if every thing Martin Luther King Jr. worked for during the civil rights era never happened. Just because the Democratic presidential nominee happens to be a man of a darker skin tone with a Muslim name, he seems to get a free pass by the media and is off limits for any criticism on the grounds that it might be hateful or racist. Barrack Hussein Obama may be a nice man with a slick tongue but he's just not the man I want to see as president.
So whether or not my vote makes a difference, I sent my vote in for McCain. I really don't like McCain either but at least I generally know where he stands politically even if he's slanted well to the left of better Republican Presidential candidates like Mitt Romney. McCain is a pretty weak choice too but at least I know a lot more about McCain than Obama.
I am sick of this election campaign that started almost two years ago. Its been the most expensive, and corrupt one yet and I am truly worried about where our country is going regardless of who's sitting at the big desk in the Oval Office.
handouts_for_troubled_wall_streetBut enough about election politics, my main beef with current governmental affairs is a much larger fundamental issue. America is run by wall street and the bailout is much bigger news than our poor choices for president. America should be going nuts on the current president and his cronies in congress regardless of party affiliation for passing such a ridiculous economic stimulus and buying parts of major American bank. Who's going to pay for the bailout? The common American tax payer of course! The bailout should have never happened, we're putting a Band-Aid on a gaping mortal wound here! We need solutions, not a short term handout...
People need to go to jail and have their assets seized by the government for their blatant disregard for laws and their country. If the big heads at Enron got grilled and tossed in jail for all their financial misdealing's, why aren't the CFOs and CEOs at the many large, now fallen, investment banks that fell over the past month being tried in court for their misdeeds? Also why aren't governmental officials who were in place to prevent such things from happening aren't getting the negative media attention they deserve? Oh what a weird world we live in...
2008 Presidential Overseas Ballot 001 Finally on a lighter note, fall has finally hit Yamanashi, Japan and the color of the leaves are turning to brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. I went out to the local mountains a couple weeks ago to take a few early shots but I plan to go out again this week to get some better shots of trees in full color near MT. Fuji. I didn't get to do this last year and I really regret it. Hopefully I'll be able to take some decent pictures this time.
2008 Presidential Overseas Ballot 003 That's it for now. Hopefully I'll have more time to remember to keep up with my blog posts. I have a feeling November will go by quick and then I will be getting ready to head out to San Diego for Christmas soon after. Lord willing, I will be able to control my spending before I head back home so I can have a little extra money to enjoy myself.