Friday, December 16, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Correction: Glass

I was just looking over some old posts when I realized that I'd learned some new information about something I'd written a few months ago.

A couple of weeks after the "grass in the soup" incident, I was at Ai Kindergarten. Sayuri, who speaks some English and is the only kindergarten teacher who invites me to her kindergarten, said to me, "Did you hear about the problem with the school lunch before?" Yes, I told her. "Yes, it was serious," she said. "There was glass in the soup."

Glass?! It was glass in the soup? Geez, now I understand what all the fuss had been about. Stupid R-L ambiguity. My JTE had tried to tell me "glass," but I heard "grass." Sayuri continued: one of the cooks in the lunch preparation center was trying to get the last bit of spice out of a glass jar. She knocked the jar against the side of the pot, and the jar broke.

But there was a considerable time delay involved; we weren't told until most of the students were more than halfway through their meal. My guess is that the woman thought she'd picked out all the glass, and didn't tell anyone about it until some time had passed. Then someone above her (correctly) decided that no one could be certain if all of the glass had been removed, so it would be better to scrap the whole dish.

The lunch preparation center is adjacent to Nita JHS, but they prepare lunches for all of the elementary schools and kindergartens in Nita as well. That's how Sayuri knew about it.

That is all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


Judging from the response to my last post, I should write more about digging dead cells from various bodily orifices more often. But I'm not so much in the mood for that right now. What we all need right now is a well-rounded update. Yes, all of us.

Grammy's Christmas present arrived last Wednesday. My doorbell rang at about 5:30pm, and it was the mailman carrying a large box for me. The mailman. Not Mr. UPS, not Mr. Leading Postal Service, but the mailman. Oh, I am so going to miss Japan Post. He had me sign the sheet, and then he was on his way. I'd asked Grammy for another afghan and a couple of small throw pillows for the back of my car; Dad wrote to me on the day she mailed everything and said she couldn't find a suitable afghan, so she bought me a quilt instead. When I got the package, I saw that everything was individually wrapped in Christmas paper, and that she'd also included a pair of socks and a fifth mystery package. I call it a mystery package, cos it wasn't listed on the customs form, but really I think it's an afghan. Cos the paper is torn a little bit. But shhh! I already opened the socks (I guessed correctly that they were in the smallest package), cos I need all the warm socks I can get, but everything else I'm saving until Christmas Day. It makes me happy to see a small pile of presents in Christmas wrap in my apartment.
Also, two or three of the presents came doubly wrapped in a white drawstring garbage bag, which I took great pains to untape without damaging it. Can you believe it?! That garbage bag came from America, that magical place! But seriously, I'm saving that thing.

Häagen-Dazs has a berry custard pie parfait.

I have not received a newspaper since last Saturday, and I'm missing a couple from before then. Actually, the only newspaper I've gotten this entire month was on Saturday, December 3rd. I subscribed to the Daily Yomiuri over a year ago, and have enjoyed reading it. Every once in a while, for whatever reason, I won't get the paper for a day or two (sometimes because of a "media holiday" which happens across the country, sometimes I don't know why), but I tend to ignore it. But last Thursday when I'd only received one newspaper in a week, I wrote to the Daily Yomiuri via their website.
I have not received any newspapers since last week. My apologies for this electronic message, but I don't know who to contact in my area. The weather has recently been poor, but I'm missing some newspapers from before the weather turned. I didn't receive any papers last Thursday or Friday (12/1 & 12/2). I may have received one Wednesday (11/30), but I don't remember right now, and I'm not at home to check. I received a paper on Saturday (12/3), but none since then. Is it possible for me to receive the back newspapers that were not delivered?
Came the answer the following day,
Regarding your recent inquiry, we asked your local agent to restart delivering to your address and also to deliver the back newspapers that you could not receive.
According to your local agent, they received the phone call from a person like your Japanese colleague and he/she asked them to end your subscription.
However, we appreciate your reading The Daily Yomiuri again.
[My local agent's phone number included at the end.]
Huh? I didn't want to end my subscription. I didn't tell anyone I wanted to end my subscription. I didn't even have a conversation with anyone about the Daily Yomiuri in the last couple of months. What's going on?
To make matters worse, I still haven't received any newspapers. So I wrote to them again today.
I'm very surprised to hear that someone cancelled my subscription on my behalf. I signed up for the Daily Yomiuri on the English website, and I assume that when I finally leave Japan and end my subscription, I will do so again through the website. I do not want to end my subscription now, nor have I said anything to any Japanese colleagues about the Daily Yomiuri that might have been misconstrued as my dissatisfaction with the paper or its delivery. This is a complete mystery to me.

More mysterious is that delivery of the Daily Yomiuri still has not resumed. I have checked my old newspapers and confirmed that I received the paper for Wednesday, November 30. But since that date, I have only received the paper for Saturday, December 3; I have received no other newspapers in December, neither new nor back papers.

I thank you for providing me with the phone number of my local agent. Could you also provide me with his or her name? I don't know that addressing him or her as Shimbun-san will set the right tone for future communcations.
The "Shimbun-san" (Mr./Ms. Newspaper) comment isn't (intended to be) as sarcastic as it may sound. The guy who owns Daido, the book/music/sports equipment store in town, is sometimes called Daido-san (though his name isn't Daido); sometimes people address others by their workplace if they don't know their real name. Even some foreigners are called Gaijin-san (Mr./Ms. Foreigner). The latter might be another kettle of fish, but what I mean to say is that that sort of thing does happen, though I suspect it's not terribly formal.

But This Just In (seriously, like, 90 seconds ago)
We are very sorry about this.

We have contacted to your agency at the moment.
They will deliver the newspaper tomorrow. and also, reply to us about what is going on.
After that we will give the email to you.
I wait with bated breath.

Häagen-Dazs' berry custard pie parfait is delicious.

I have plans for Christmas Day! Yea! James "the Canadian" is having a Christmas party at his house in Yokota. Turkey, pies, brownies, potatoes, gingerbread houses, and other tasty vittles. Oh yeah... it'll be so good.... Especially the turkey; it's not so easy to get turkey in Japan. He's had to order most of this stuff online.

Next week will be the Christmas party for my English conversation class. We'll be making plans tonight, so I don't know what all will happen yet, but it was good times last year. I taught everyone a song I'd written about Oninoshitaburui, and we played pass-the-parcel with the gift exchange gifts while singing the Oninoshitaburui song. Good times, it was.

I have to leave for conversation class tonight in about half an hour, so I'm going to sit under the kotatsu until then and warm my toes. 又ね。

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Live from Nita JHS

or Things You Wish You'd Never Read

I just finished removing two very large clots of wax from my ears (and I highly recommend having long hair if you want to attempt this activity in public). Seriously, these things must weigh a gram or two each, and they're dark, dark brown, almost black. Yes, that's nasty, and you're lucky my phone makes a loud noise whenever I take a photo (a sound that I can change but can't turn off), else you'd have more than a written description.

I've been told by a couple of doctors in recent years that I had a lot of wax in my ears, but neither offered to irrigate them for me (once because I was in the beginning stages of a dizzy spell, and the other time I don't know why not). My fingernails are the longest they've been in months, and in a fit of boredom here in the staff room, well, my fingers got itchy, found something soft, and started digging.

And I really can hear better. Like when I move my head, I can hear my hair moving across my corduroy jacket. At the moment, I can hear my good friend Peter Gabriel very well. I think my left ear might still be a little plugged, unless the teachers to my right are just shuffling their papers really loudly.

Sorry. I'll post something more sane soon.