2007 JET Podcast
Some helpful hints from folks already on the JET Programme. It covers all of those very specific things that you really need to know but may have forgotten to ask or that you just couldn't find answers to. Click here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Mom's March Care Package

Got some good stuff in the mail today. My mom has been so very good in sending care packages just about once every two months (or even more often). This month's package contained a few things I ordered as well as some things I didn't expect. Here's a rundown of the big score:

-Mino FlipHD camcorder. I ordered this myself and had it shipped to my house. Cool gadget. Record 720p. Very easy to use (has one big button for record, plus controls for volume and zoom). Software comes embedded in the player so when you hook it up to a computer through USB, you have everything you need to upload it to YouTube or email or do some rudimentary editing. This will definitely come in handy for the upcoming Tokyo/Osaka/Hong Kong trip.

-Camera light for my Canon XH A1. It's so-so. It really makes a difference, but it's got a really bright spot that makes it less ambient and more 'spot'. I wonder if I can make some homemade diffusion will fix it. I'm hoping it will come in handy for run-and-gun stuff with the 35mm adapter.

-Diva Cup. You know, that menstrual cup that lasts 10 years and means you'll never have to buy another feminine hygiene product. From first glance, that thing looks HUGE. Not sure who's vagina it's supposed to fit in but...well we'll give it a try.

-Girl Scout cookies. Also known by it's street name "Crack". My mom sent me a lot of boxes that I pray I don't eat before the night is over.

-Grits. I've been asking for real, slow-cook grits for a while now and each time my mom would forget. This time she sent them, but they went through an unfortunate accident of spilling out of the box (a little bit) and the tiny grains got all embedded in everything that was in the shipping box. A slight annoyance, but all was not lost.

-Hamburger Helper. Is there ever a time when this is not appreciated?

-Also for the last 3 or 4 months the power adapter cable has been damaged on my computer. This is due to Dell making a charger that has a special wire inside the cable that lets the computer recognize the adapter which in turn lets it charge the battery. Now, no other company does this to my knowledge, so it's stupid. The adapter is very fragile and with regular use can easily start to split. So, while the adapter may be able to power the computer it won't charge the battery. I have been unable to use my computer without a power outlet which has been a drag. However, I happened to be 60 days from warranty expiration and called Dell up and they sent out a new one. This was also in my care package.

Overall, a good haul!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Life in a Digest

To be honest, I had completely forgotten about my blog until a week ago.

I was so surprised to see that there are a few people out there who read it, so I will continue to post! :)

Since the last post was in September of last year, I will recap again.

October

Halloween was fun. I volunteered for a haunted house thing in Atsuma that my friend Jennie organized. It was very nice. I dressed as a giant hamster and the little kids really liked it. I also had a Halloween party for my eikaiwa (English conversation) class. We dressed up, told ghost stories, etc. I also baked cocoa rice krispy treats for them. I can't really remember anything else notable happening. As expected, Hokkaido starts to get cold around this month.

November

I was the Social Coordinator for the Hokkaido Association of JETs and my major job was to plan the tour we do every year during the Yuki Matsuri in Sapporo. This happens in February, but seeing that we have 100+ ALTs and others descending upon our fair prefecture at the same time, the planning starts long before that. I actually started planning in August, but November was when most of the prep action took place -- getting hotels/air tickets arranged for people, etc. Lots of stress this month that would last until the festival was over in February.

Also, this year, instead of staying at home and moping for Thanksgiving, I was invited to Tokachi (north-east of me) by Lauren to participate in a big, American Thanksgiving potluck. That was so much fun and the food was SOOOO good. Afterwards we went to karaoke and drinking, finishing up at Lauren's house where everyone passed out on the floor. Lol!



December

Christmas time! I got lots of presents from my mom. Dad, not so much. Still, it wasn't nearly as depressing as last year. More stress from planning the Yuki Matsuri. Spent New Year's in Sapporo with Lauren, Kae, and Nao-chan. Had so much fun there! It was so fun that I was actually tired of partying near the end.



January

Snow, snow, snow! Even though snow eventually becomes a nuisance, one can't help but rejoice when it first falls and everything's so white and peaceful and beautiful. This is short-lived once you have to shovel it from sidewalks, it turns dirty, and melts partially then re-freezes into ice just waiting to kill you.

I went snowboarding many times in January.

This is a picture of me snowboarding at Teine Highland last year. I have since gotten better and I really do enjoy the sport even though it leaves me absolutely sore in places I didn't even know I had. There's nothing like whizzing down the mountain on a clear day with your favorite music playing in your ears.

I also finished the feature that Aeric and I had been working on for almost a year - Magdalene.

One of the best things about this month was that my gym, Joyfit, had a New Year's party (way after actual New Years) and I got to hang out and chat with the instructor I have a huge crush on. :) :) :)



My birthday was also this month. My mom sent me gifts. My neighbors made me special food.

February

The Yuki Matsuri started and ended in one weekend this month. So stressful, but overall successful for HAJET. I think most of the people who attended had a great time. There were those that complained of one thing or another (prices, etc). I was just glad when the weekend was over and I could wash my hands of everything.



Valentines day meant I had a really awesome party with all of my friends at my house. Lauren came down. It was actually a party thrown by Kelsey and I to invite our Joyfit crushes, but both crushes turned out not to be available, so it just turned into a regular party with our friends and some acquaintances from Joyfit and other places. I think there were actually more Japanese people than foreigners which was fun. Food was good.


Lots more snowboarding. So far this year, I've been to Teine Highland countless times, Niseko two times, and Furano (in March) once. I really want to go to Yubari (Reishi) and Rusutsu before the season is over. I heard that in some places you can snowboard all the way through May.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sapporo Rainbow March 2008

I just returned from being in Sapporo all weekend.  Mainly, I went to participate in the parade and festivities associated with Sapporo's gay pride celebration.

I had soooooo much fun.  I had no idea there were so many gay people in Sapporo or that the community would turn out to celebrate with such positive attitudes.  Usually, in the states, while gay pride is really fun, you also have to contend with protesters on the sidelines or busting through shouting and being real party poopers.

But since Japan is not a hugely religious country and because people are generally well-behaved, there was none of that.  We marched for like an hour and a half all the way from Nakajima-koen (Nakajima Park) through Susukino and back again.  The police were there in full force and the people we passed were really awesome.




There was both a pre-party the Saturday before the march and two major after-parties Sunday night.  Kae's bar, Bar Orb, also turned one year old on Sunday so there was lots of partying happening at her place too.  The bar was packed out!  And so many customers came and paid Kae homage.  It was amazing.



Too bad I won't be here next year to enjoy it again, but I'm sure when I come back to visit Hokkaido, the Rainbow March will be one of the reasons I do.





Thursday, September 11, 2008

Back Again In September

For crying out loud, there's been a long time in between updates.  I guess once again, I can do a very quick round up.


In April, my mom visited me in Japan.  That was very awesome.  It was her first trip out of the country.  I was a little nervous as I didn't know how she would adapt to the food and language stuff, but she did alright.  She tried a lot of new things.  I was proud of her.

Then fast forward to July-August....I went home for three weeks.  This was way to little time to see and do all of the things I wanted to do.  I STILL never made it by for a bison burger from City Range!  But overall things were very fun.  A few of my friends are buying new houses which is awesome.  That's such a grown-up thing to do.  Mostly everything was the same, except that my dad and step-mom bought a new house.  So, it was my first time to see it.  I might post some video on Vimeo of the walk-through tour of the new house.  We'll see.

Right now, I'm preparing for the Yuki Matsuri (Snow/Ice Festival) tour that we JETs in Hokkaido do every year.  I'm the Social Coordinator for the Hokkaido JETs Association and that is my duty.  I really kind of hate it, because it's a lot of work, but hopefully the final product will be worthwhile.

I also have a new HD camera, the Canon XH A1.  I'm planning on making a few movies while I'm here -- at least one documentary and one narrative piece.  It's all tricked out (not as tricked out as I want it to be) with a 35mm adapter and such so I think the footage will look REAL good in the end and be a lot of nice things to add to my reel which will hopefully help get me work when I move to LA during the fall of 2009.

Other than that, things are cool.  Loving Japan.  Loving the people I'm here with.  New peeps just arrived a few months ago.  One cool guy is from Ireland and we're going to do ballroom dancing together!

Ciao!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Video From Hokkaido

I present to you...

Drunk Karaoke



video

No posts in 2008

Or the latter part of 2007 either it seems. I've been a very bad girl.

So, I'll sum everything up by highlighting the exciting parts and leaving out the less fun stuff.

November --

At the end of November I went to Thailand and Cambodia for about 9 days. My school was giving me crap about taking time off right when the mid-year conference was supposed to go on, but there was nothing they could do because (a) they had approved the leave before I bought my plane ticket and (b) they failed to alert me of the mid-year conference dates.

Still, it being Japan and all, they kept insisting I come back a day earlier and I kept insisting that my ticket was unchangeable. So, as expected, when I failed to show up for the first day of mid-year conference, they called me and asked where I was. Kansai International Airport, I said. Just like I told you I would be and just like it says on the copy of my itinerary.

Anyway, Thailand was wonderful. I stayed mostly in Bangkok though at the HI Sukhumvit youth hostel. This place was amazing. The rooms were clean, there was AC, clean bathrooms, washer and dryer, and it was about a block away from the BTS station. I did lots of riding on the back of motorbikes, zipping through the city like some badboy's girlfriend or something. It was fun.

I tried to go to Koh Samet island, but that didn't work out. I wound up in Ban Phe at about 9PM with no other buses back to Bangkok and nary a hotel in sight and lots of vicious dogs. The ferry place was open and was taking people across to the island, but only if 20 people showed up. Of course, 20 people weren't EVER going to show up at one time. I ended up staying at the seediest do-it-yourself motel in which I was scared to sleep on the sheets. Fortunately I had swiped the blanket from my flight and I slept on that -- with my Gerber knife in my hand. Lol. The next morning I inquired about a ferry across and got the same story. I don't believe anyone has ever taken the 20 people ferry to Koh Samed. They just pay the $40 to take a speedboat. I was pissed so I refused to get gypped like that. I took a bus back to Bangkok.

The trip to Cambodia was memorable and kind of horrible. Wanting to be adventurous, I decided to take the train all the way to the Thai/Cambodian border. That was 4 hours of wasted time. The train was sticky, old, and nasty. When I got to the border, I was assailed by offers to drive me to the "real" border and get me a visa. I had already purchased my visa so I didn't really need them, but I got suckered into paying for a chartered bus to Siem Reap where my hotel was. We were loaded onto a chartered bus, driven right to the border, then piled into a rickety van. No part of the road to Siem Reap is paved and much of it (if not all) is covered in the worse red clay. We were on this road for about 4 more hours. Then the driver tried to sucker me into staying at a "preferred" hotel, but I was so pissed I made him drive me right to my own hotel.

The hotel, like the train and everything else was coated in dust, full of mosquitoes, and sticky as hell. I immediately booked a flight back to Bangkok for the following night.

The next day I went to Ankgor Wat and that was very, very fun. My motorbike driver seemed like a nice enough guy, but he kept complaining about not having money. I took lots of pictures, got my hair felt up by almost everyone I met, and had a general good time. That night, when I was leaving, I left the driver a tip since I felt he had been quite nice to me. He then proceeded to cheat me out of $40 at the airport. I would have put up more of a fight about it, but my plane was already landed and I just wanted to get out of that place. Never again. Or maybe never, ever again in such a touristy place?

Anyway, I got back to Bangkok and went out to a girls club and had a really great time. I had forgotten how much more comfortable I felt in all girls clubs. I even got hit on quite heavily. Thai women are beautiful.

I also accidentally walked into a sex massage parlour looking for a legitimate massage. That was quite funny. And awkward.

After getting back to Hokkaido at the beginning of December, I proceeded to suffer from a very bad liver infection that I think I contracted in Thailand or Cambodia. I thought I was going to die. I also had my first brush with the nice, but not quite thorough enough for my tastes Japanese medical system. I'm still alive and it wasn't ridiculously expensive.

December

Christmas was kind of depressing. I stayed at home most of the time. I wasn't really missing anything or anybody, but the combination of cold and snow plus my lack of car made me feel like a prisoner in my own home. I did go snowboarding for the first time though and I LOVED it. I was glad when school got back in.

January

My birthday month. Worked on my birthday but celebrated it in Sapporo the following Saturday. So many people came out for my party and Jenny baked me an awesome cake (in the shape of boobies, lol). Lots of drinking I'm afraid and a stay at the wonderfully accommodating internet cafe.

My mom's birthday was also this month and I managed to send her a package from Japan and get her new luggage. The luggage was a hint that she absolutely would be visiting me this May.

February

Reaching the end of this month now. Nothing really awesome to report. Went to Sapporo for Yuki Matsuri (Snow Fesitval) 2 weeks ago. Lots of drinking and fun. Stayed at a friend's house this time instead of the internet cafe (thank goodness). Went to Niseko this past weekend. Intended to snowboard. Instead got caught in a blizzard. A friend fell and bashed her head on the ground and ended up in the hospital. Not such a great weekend. Now it's snowing like nobody's business in Tomakomai and my toilet froze completely solid this morning.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dracula is a virgin

...according to some of my students. I don't know how you mix up vampire and virgin, but they've managed to and it's hilarious.

Also, my supervisor told a story today in which someone was "killed to death". I'm not exactly sure of a time when someone isn't dead when they are killed, but apparently he knows of at least one...or he's being cautious just in case.