Thursday, June 30, 2011

I have a really nice father in-law.

This will be a kind of short post but I figured it was so touching it needed to be written.

My father in-law randomly showed up at my apartment this evening on his way from work to drop off some fresh croquettes that he bought. He’s never done this before although he is very generous with taking us out to dinner and picking up the tab on other things for us. Not to mention, he’s my hook-up for beer on the weekends. Smile

What a nice way to end a decent day.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Canned beer under 150yen in Japan???

DSCF0001 (2)Since Yuko worked late tonight it was up to me to find dinner for myself. So I decided to go the lazy bachelor route and warm up some frozen Costco pizza slices, a simple salad, and a cheap can of non name brand beer.

The Costco pizza is god-like and makes me crave more but I have to ration it because we don’t have a local Costco. Even though the pizza was frozen and reheated it still tasted better than the stuff Japan passes off as pizza. Not to mention it is tons cheaper than the average Japanese pizza. Of course not all Japanese pizzas are bad, its more the price that gets my goat more than anything else. If I am paying more than 1000 yen for a medium pizza, something’s wrong.

DSCF0004Now for that “Lager Beer” above. So I’m always ready for a challenge when it comes to bargain beers and alcoholic beverages and today was no different. I grabbed a can of Trial brand “Lock-on” Lager Beer. 330ml makes it 20ml lighter than the average national brand canned beer but it didn’t scare me off much when it came in at a tempting 130yen. The average Japanese canned beer goes for 180yen+ depending on where you buy and where you live. So finding a 130 yen BEER, not happoshu (a beer like alcoholic drink)  , was a big surprise for me.

So I paid the 130 yen entry fee and found out its not all that bad. Compared to the similarly priced happoshu  top shelf brands, it is a decent beer. It’s a little bitter but for its price I wouldn’t mind grabbing another sometime soon. In my house variety is king and I am happy I can switch things up for once.

So that’s it for today’s entry. Go budget beer canned in Vietnam and rebranded in Japan for a discount store chain. Open-mouthed smile

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What would you like to see/read more about on my blog?

charlie-brown-writing[1]This blog is a personal log first and foremost, but I want to maybe make this site a little more than what it is now. Are there any topics or certain aspects of life you’d like to see more written about? If so, write a comment below and I will consider it if it is appropriate or relevant enough to me living in Japan. 

Your input is appreciated. Smile

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Our trip to Costco went differently from expected.

costco[1]Update: 2/29/2012 The Tamasakai Costco has re-opened since the 24th of February according to the website.

My wife and I had planned to go to Costco this weekend for our every other month visit to Costco. We decided to not take the highway this time and take my smaller, light weight car so we’d save money, gas, and have more space for stuff to bring back.
After a long 2 1/2 hour drive on mountain and city roads, we made it to Tamasakai city. In our haste, we overlooked one big detail of our trip. The Tamasakai Costco has been closed since the March 11th earthquake. Apparently the parking garage ramp structurally failed during the quake and collapsed on one unfortunate woman in a car. So the store has been closed for just over 3 months now.
IMG_0641[1]Honestly, I’m not even sure how or why just the Tama Sakai Costco got damaged in the quake. It was a fairly new building and no other places nearby seemed to have any problems after the quake in that area. Kanagawa is pretty far from the epicenter of the Tsunamis and earthquake so I am not really sure if faulty construction was to blame or just bad luck.
1[2]Yuko and I really didn’t know the extent of the damage till we got there and saw a closed up store and construction crew working on rebuilding the deadly ramp. We assumed it would be back up within a month or so and didn’t bother to check the website to make sure it was operating. So we ended up wasting a good 5 hour round trip drive.
The pictures above were obviously not taken by me. They were taken the day of the quake. I didn’t have my camera at the ready as I was driving and didn’t really expect to need it till it was too late. The building as of Saturday the 18th looked better than the above pictures but they now have scaffolding and tarps over the damaged area.
DVC00005Now for some upbeat news… After finding out Costco was not open, we decided to not let the day drive go to a complete waste. We ate at a nearby Red Lobster for lunch which was pretty good. I had a nice shrimp cocktail with a Texas steak and Yuko had some seafood crab pasta. We also went to a Baby’s R Us and another baby store for maternity goods shopping. So the whole trip wasn’t a complete loss.

7220651[1]On the way home for dinner we stopped at Rai Rai Tei ramen restaurant. I think their soup and toppings selection is very good along with their reasonable price compared to other ramen restaurants I’ve visited with Yuko over the years. I really am not much of a ramen fan but Rai Rai Tei has made me a fan of theirs. Now I can finally enjoy Yuko’s favorite food with her. I am sure she’s happy about that.
We’re really sad for the woman who lost her life there along with all the staff that haven’t had a job since the quake. The Tama Sakai Costco is supposed to re-open this fall. Hopefully the building will be stronger than before. It probably will since its taking so long to open it up again. Well, that and probably out of respect for the family of the deceased.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I finally caught up with 6 months+ of missed posts!

th_O-Face_egoraptor-256x256[1]Just a heads up for anybody reading my blog after a long time of not reading it. I added a lot of “new” entries starting from January 2011. I wrote them all this evening but I date tagged them with the approximate dates of when they would have been written if I kept up with my blog.

So my advice to my family and friends is to start reading from the 1st January entry. You can jump there by clicking on the right hand side January 2011 link. From there read up till June and you’ll get all the entries in a chronological order. Or don’t. Smile

OH and one more thing, please comment, click like or whatever at the end of each post if you enjoyed what you read. It’s nice to get feedback even if its just a simple, “that was good”.

3 months after the March 11th disaster.

_51693877_011530833-1[1]*Grab your favorite beverage of choice. This is a kind of long and mostly picture-less entry. But it explains what’s been going on since the disaster and why I haven’t updated for so long.*
Things have sure calmed down in Japan over the past few months. Japan went quiet for nearly five weeks after the disaster hit. Because of the current power crisis in North-Eastern Japan many businesses have taken it upon themselves to reduce their power consumption. Many businesses have removed most unessential light fixtures from their interiors and exteriors although things seem to be returning to normal output as of the writing of this entry.
During the first month or so it was hard to get a hold of simple daily goods like milk, eggs, and bread. A lot of production was halved or shut down due to power outages. People were hoarding simple daily goods and emergency goods even though the worst of the disaster was over. Most of the hoarders caused more trouble than good. Although we did add a little to the bottle water shortage I do admit. :/
JAPAN/BLACKOUTThe planned blackouts during the first few weeks of the disaster aftermath were incredibly inconvenient and really made many resent TEPCO even more than they already were for dropping the ball so hard on the Nuclear plants in Fukushima. The blackouts really changed how northern Japan looks. Tokyo and many other cities affected by TEPCO’s overdependence on old, limited number of power plants really changed their night life after the disaster hit. I am not sure how long it will be till I see annoying neon signs every where I go at night… not that that’s a bad thing. The thing I’m more annoyed about is how stingy offices, businesses, and restaurants will get with climate control till more power capacity is created. Even then, I wonder if Japan will revert to its old level of power consumption or will this turn a new page in Japan’s march for power conservation…
There was a lot of talk of foreigners leaving the country during this time which is true. Many foreigners did leave but it may have not been completely due to the disaster. One of my friends I trained with a few years back went back home because his parents bought him a ticket without really asking how he felt. He took it anyhow because his job renewal offer was crap so he found it to be good timing he got a free ticket out to leave his disaster of a job.
100308_SIGNS_exit_greenEX[1]Coincidentally it just so happened that the disaster struck during the last week of the fiscal and school year for 2010-2011. So many teachers who left were already planning to leave or had more incentive to leave because their jobs really don’t support them well enough to put up with any of the uncertainties that many living here were worried about.  I’m not sure how many actually left out of pure panic but I think a lot of it was justified if they were close to the epicenters of the tsunami and nuclear power plant.
As for any other foreigners that left during the crisis that lived further south in the unaffected areas, I am kind of at a loss of words for their hasty decision. Japan is small but it’s still big enough that something like this doesn’t affect the whole country. But that’s as much as I’ll say about that. It’s their own choice what they do, they have no real obligation to stay if they are a low wage expendable ALT like myself after all.
As for my wife and I, we were very concerned for our health and safety but we were geographically far enough away from the Fukushima that we didn’t have any reason to leave. So we’ve been here the whole time with no intentions of fleeing but we are quite happy that I didn’t change jobs to Tokyo/Chiba where I was looking for new jobs up till recently.
My wife was more worried about the nuclear repercussions than I was but now that I’ve seen how bad things have gotten, my skepticism wasn’t really helpful. We had a few arguments about where we buy our food from and future travel plans that were canceled because of this mess. In the end I agree that my wife was right and her caution was well justified. Especially now that we have a baby. The less risk we can expose our baby to while it’s in my wife, the better. Its one of the most vulnerable time for a developing child after all.
So we’re safe and the real reason why my blog has been dormant since November 2010 up till now is not because I died, moved back to the US, or forgot my blog password. I just lost interest in writing because I didn’t think I had an audience big enough to justify writing here when I have a Facebook account. But my good friend Matt changed my mind and from now on I am doing this just for him and my mother. If anyone else gets entertainment from my blog, that’s just a bonus. Smile

We’re having a baby!

Yuko's pregnant April 2011 001I am amazed I stayed quiet about this for so long. We first knew Yuko was showing signs of pregnancy back in early April when we used one of those home pregnancy tests.

This is our first try for a baby and surprisingly it worked on the first try. As of posting this entry, Yuko is 14 weeks pregnant and starting to show quite a belly to rival my own pudgy gut.

Yuko and the baby are healthy and everything seems to be on track for the projected December 12th delivery date. Yuko still has a lot of justified worries of if the baby will make it full term or not. Having babies is a lot like a lottery, you’re really not sure what will happen till its all over.

Baby at 11 Weeks 001We’re doing all we can to keep Yuko and the baby healthy in the meanwhile. Yuko has set limits on where her food and drinks come from and what kind of foods she eats. I am just there for support and follow her directions as best I can. Ever since the March 11th disaster and following nuclear crisis, Yuko and I have been especially on edge about the future of our child. Hopefully all is well.

I have a feeling things will be all right. Yuko has scheduled bi-monthly check-ups at her pregnancy clinic and she doesn’t really do anything that would stress the baby inside her. I just pray our baby is born healthy. I really don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl. I am sure I will be happy with either. Smile Then we’ll have 4 other cousins to play with. My sister in-law had a baby girl last year and is expecting another later this year. My birth sister also had a boy a couple of years ago and just had a girl last year. We sure have all been busy!

I can’t believe I’m going to be a father by the end of this year! I really do hope I can be a good father to my child. I want to do my best and be the best husband and father for our child and my wife. Smile

I’ll put up videos and more pictures as they become available.