Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My game empire is complete… For now.

Room Setup 019 Over the past year or so since I’ve been living in Japan I’ve steadily accumulated various home game consoles from past and present. My goal with each purchase, excluding my XBOX 360, was to buy my systems well below their market values. For the most part I’ve been very successful buying my systems from the junk section of my local recycle shops.
Most of the systems that get lumped in the junk pile aren’t actually junk at all, they just happen to be overstocked items that don’t sell anymore due to their age. But to collectors like myself, these unwanted systems become a gold mine of sorts. Of course I can’t just walk into the store expecting what I want to be there and in the condition I would like it to be in. I have to sort through piles of  discolored, filth covered, cigarette stained, electronics. Many Japanese smoke in their homes and cars, so buying stuff from a smoke free environment is nearly impossible. I just try to find a middle ground and get the most aesthetically appealing hardware I can find.
Room Setup 008Up till now I’ve been successful with purchasing my 32 inch Sharp Aquos TV (smelled like cigarette smoke for a week), my Sega Dreamcast and accessories, my Sony 5.1 surround sound system, my Sega Saturn with accessories, and the final crowing jewel, my 2000 yen PS2. Most game systems were picked up for under 1000 yen with all accessories included but the PS2, being still very popular, was the most troublesome and expensive purchases I’ve made so far.
2000 yen (roughly $20) for a PS2 is actually very good considering that they sell used at almost every store in Japan for about 12,000 yen. I knew I’d be able to find one in the junk section eventually for the right price and I finally did but it came with a little trouble. It actually took me two tries to get it right. The first try was actually a failed purchase because I bought a PS2 with a bad laser spindle motor which was not worth fixing so that ended up burning 2000 yen. My second most recent PS2 attempt worked just fine and is playing games happily under my TV. It was also in the junk section under a stack of other PS2s. So in total I spent about 4000 for my PS2 since the first one was a lemon. I may take the completely broken one to another recycle shop to sell it for parts since its a fixable system, its just not worth my time to mess with it.
Room Setup 020 I regret wasting money on the first PS2 but that’s the chance you have to take in the junk section. Most things there are unmarked and untested. Some things have labels that describe their problems or missing components, but most are a crapshoot. This time I lost, but I think I’ve gotten a lot out of it so far. I think it also helps that I don’t mind fixing and troubleshooting things.
Room Setup 011 I think I’m done collecting game system hardware. There isn’t really anything else I want besides a PS3 and that’s more of a curiosity. I already own an XBOX 360 and that does a good enough job satisfying my multi console high definition gaming habit for now. However, if I ever  get an unexpected bonus/raise I might consider picking a used PS3, up but I’m not in a hurry for that since I have a PS2 and years of games I’ve missed on it which I’d like to catch up on first.
One final note to my readers, I want to send out a happy birthday to my good friend Kherri. I hope you get around to using that white SEGA Saturn I gave to you for Christmas.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hand made chocolates

Another Valentine’s day has come and gone and I missed another one of my dear grandmother’s birthdays. Happy birthday grandma!
Last year I got a handful of gifts from people at work for Valentine’s day but this year I came home empty handed. I kind of forgot it was Valentine’s day anyway so I wasn’t really bothered by it anyway.
Valentine's Day Candy 001This year Yuko decided she’d make me Japanese style Valentine’s day chocolates. Basically you buy bars of chocolate, melt them down, and pour them into bite sized foil cups. I was given two boxes full of hand made chocolates sprinkled with almonds. They tasted great, especially because Yuko used my favorite Japanese brand of chocolate.
Valentine's Day Candy 002 For Valentine’s evening I went to dinner at a local Japanese style party restaurant. for once I paid in full for her dinner and mine. Next month I’ll have to take her to an even better place since they have a holiday on March 14th called White Day, where guys spoil their women even more so than on Valentine’s day. Oh BOY! I better live it up and enjoy the expensive dinner or time out I’ll have next month. Hopefully we can agree on a place where we both appreciate the food on the menu.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pizza hut pizza in Japan tastes good

DSC00005About once a month or so I get a flyer from various local pizza restaurants in my mailbox. I tend to automatically toss flyers and coupons in the trash because I don’t like Japanese pizza that much.
This week something caught my eye with Tuesday’s Pizza Hut flyer, it said HALF OFF all pickup orders. Usually delivery pizza costs about 25-30 dollars just for something one small pizza which usually is covered with mayonnaise, seafood, and many other things besides cheese. Japanese pizzas are really cheap with cheese for some reason, which is the main reason why I prefer to just go without pizza in Japan. A typical Japanese pizza has barely any sauce and splotches of cheese randomly scattered about the surface of the pizza.
DSC00006 I couldn’t resist half off because it made it affordable to try it out for once. Instead of it being 2,100 yen for pickup I got it for just over 900 yen. So I ended up buying the least Japanese looking pizza on the menu hoping for the best. To my surprise it actually looked, smelled, and tasted like a Pizza Hut pizza I’d get back in America… just smaller.
DSC00007 It seems every first Tuesday each month my local Pizza Hut has this same sale so I’ll probably make this a regular thing. Its just too bad I get a lot less for my money here as far as food goes. At least they got the cheese, sauce, to toppings ratio right.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

So much for job security

1221874360973 I have been having a very good school year despite having a rough start at the beginning due to the addition of my two schools in the mountains. I absolutely hated the idea of adding new schools at first but I got used to it after a month or so and found it to not be so bad since the extra schools were so small. Well, now something similar has happened only this time things are really going to change.
In an unexpected turn of events, I had the worst possible news broken to me right after a good day at work. Apparently my company’s lost it’s contract bid with the school district I work with and I will have to be relocated to another school district within the area. From what I understand, my company was underbid by another similar recruiting company and couldn’t keep the contract despite having very positive reviews from my schools. Unfortunately for Japan schools, faculty decisions aren’t made at the school level so even though I fit in well with the students and faculty, the higher-ups saw the bottom line as the best reason to switch.
I don’t consider myself the best teacher ever, or even a memorable teacher, but I got the job done and didn’t rock the boat while keeping everybody on my good side. I know that my company isn’t the greatest but it might be better than the one that is supposed to replace my position. Hopefully their guy will do well there. I don’t feel any real bitterness or resentment to the other company or it’s employee because my position originally replaced a JET’s position anyway, except I came in after a guy resigned on his own.
Why should things change if they work? It really sucks that every thing I worked for will fall apart in another month or so when I have to restart once again from square one. So far I’ve told my girlfriend, one of the English teachers and the secretary at my main school about what’s happened and they were all shocked, especially the people at my school. I don’t think anybody saw this coming, especially my company.
I kind of took my position for granted. I always knew that my position was fragile due to the nature of the contract my company works out with the board of education, but I just figured I’d be at the same schools till I decided to move on. I am fairly certain there is no way to retain my current position as it will be filled by a competing company that has lower salary and benefits compared to mine. So I’ll just have to look forward to my new reassignment and hope for the best.
My company has already lined up four possible local schools to move me to. Unfortunately none of the offerings seem as appealing as my original setup. The best deal they can make is a set of three elementary schools fairly close to my apartment. I’ll probably end up choosing that option, but it’s not what I would have wanted. Its either that or completely uproot and relocate which is way out of the option since I just moved half a year ago.
I am really sad over all this but somehow I will manage as I always do. Hopefully no other issues will spring up between now and the signing of my new contract. I really hope I get a slight raise or something out of this. But I won’t hold my breath.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Its February already?!

strokin madcat January went by way too fast for my liking. I can’t even remember half of what I did over the past few weeks… I guess I should have blogged something for posterity. Oh well.
I spent a lot of my evenings in January playing games like Sonic Unleashed, Every Extend Extra Extreme, and Tales of Vesperia. That could kind of explain why I’ve neglected my blogging duties for so long. Playing games is one of my three primary forms of entertainment while living in Japan. The other two forms of entertainment would be spending time with Yuko and watching movies or TV shows I rent from Tsutaya (a video rental chain.)
My second school year is quickly coming to a close. I have about three weeks of “real” class time left, and another two probably sitting at my desk due to cancelled or rescheduled classes. I’m already looking forward to that couple of weeks I get between semesters. Hopefully class reschedules or cancellations will make my break a little longer too…
The weather here has been unusually bearable here. I think last year’s weather was much worse and colder, but that might have been due to where I was living last year too. Living in the city makes life a little warmer because of all the buildings serving as windbreaks.
DSC00003 My little apartment is holding up pretty well too to all this cold weather. Its not as warm or energy efficient as my last one but it gets the job done fine if I set my heater to turn on about an hour before I wake up. I am still finding ways to save money and I may end up just buying my own car soon to save even more. I am pretty sure I’ll be here for at least another year or two. I just got to stop being lazy and look for a decent car with Yuko during our days off.
I guess the last thing I want to post about would be my gut… It’s gotten out of control. I think a lot of it has to do with the lack of movement I get during the day. I am physically inactive nearly all the day and have almost no urge to better myself. I’m not sure if its winter getting me down, but I’d really like an exercise partner or something to get my stomach back down to an acceptable size. I’m so lazy!
Well, that’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll have something more interesting to write about soon. I want to put up some new pictures of something… Like snow! I really want at least one good snow here before the end of winter. Bring on the snow! Justify the cold weather here!