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Japan Blog: 2008 archive

April 20, 2008 (2008年4月20日)
Recent events, December 22nd to Present

I know that some people do read this, including my girlfriend 由香理 (Yukari) who's been asking for me to write more here for quite some time. So, that's what I'm going to do. This is just a brief summary of recent events from December of last year until the present.

First off, on December 22nd or so, I headed back to the U.S. for a two-and-a-half week holiday. I spent through Christmas at my parents' new house at Ocean Park, Washington, after which I returned to the Federal Way area for a time to catch up with friends and partake in some of the activities I could not do in Japan (Laser Quest, In The Groove 2, and American pizza and sweets). For New Years I visited my brother's house in Oregon and visited with him, his wife, and my sister and her husband, along with one nephew and three nieces. My parents were visiting there, as well. We enjoyed the holiday, at least for the most part. After New Years I was able to catch up with some of my old coworkers from Intel for lunch, and later tracked down some of my old friends from high school. Before long, January 8th rolled around, and I was back on a plane to Japan, having had a fairly nice, enjoyable trip stateside and having picked up many new clothes and toys to take with me back here.

Most everyone I'm in contact with knows that story. So, what have I been up to since?

Shortly after I got back from Japan, I got a letter from the Hyogo Board of Education. It was regarding recontracting for a third year on the JET program. I had expected to receive this letter in February or March like I did last year, but Hyogo decided to change things around a bit - guess they wanted to keep it interesting. Anyway, they asked if I wanted to recontract, and I had to make my final decision by the middle of January.

Now, back in December I had taken the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, Level 2. I was expecting to hear results for that test in February, and was hoping to make my decision based upon whether I passed or not. I really wanted to change jobs to something involving software again, most preferably software development like I was doing before. But, I was going to maybe stay on JET another year if I did not pass the test.

Having to make the decision before receiving the results, and having looked at how I felt on this job - enjoying interacting with the students, but really feeling rather unneeded as a teacher due to lack of utilization by my school - I decided to not recontract. February came, and I found out that I did not pass the proficiency test.

So, that was a downer, and admittedly I'm still a bit nervous, although it's not impossible to find a non-English teaching job with my level of Japanese. And I have since put in an application with the employment office in Osaka, so I expect that I will be able to find something, something which will hopefully pay equivalent to what I'm making now but also cover the taxes I'll have to start paying from next year.

Beyond this turning point... Well, February was a rather interesting month. We had a fairly bad cold snap in Himeji. School never got canceled or anything like that, but we did see snow, and it was sometimes dangerous to go walking out on the sidewalks at night when ice froze them over.

March eventually brought an end to a very late winter. It also was a very low time at my school, as well as February, because of the final exams and the students being on break and such. But, it did give me lots of time to work on my software development projects like J-Ben.

Which brings us to the present, April. School is now back in session, and I'm actually feeling somewhat useful again. It's my busiest semester yet, with a full 16 classes per week, whereas my maximum before was 14. I have less spare time to work on stuff at school, but I guess that's really for the best. And the cherry blossoms have been in bloom and are just finishing falling. And, I started to run again, in hopes of taking off some of the weight I gained over the past 6 months (due to test worries, being back in America, and simply not eating like I should ;)).

I have a lot of stuff going on now. I have all my responsibilities in school, of course. I have to finish my taxes still. (I have until June since I'm overseas, so don't worry, mom!) I need to write a Japanese resume for myself and have someone fix my Japanese so it won't instantly hit the vertical file. (This actually involves two different styles of resume since I'm applying for engineering-type positions.) I'm also researching visa stuff just in case it's needed for Yukari in the future. And then there's the software projects: my personal project J-Ben, plus GNU Typist for which I have now become the maintainer.

And there's one more big thing, the biggest of all which I've mostly skipped over until the end. And that is Yukari. =) I've been fortunate to spend a lot of time together with her since I've been back in Japan. She's been very busy herself with school, with her trip to South Korea, with job hunting and other things, however we've still been able to spend some quality time together. Some of the pictures in the last update are from things we've done together, like when we went together with her mother to a a remote, ancient-looking Japanese-style restaurant where we ate around a fire pit together (March 2008), and when we went around Himeji castle shortly after the cherry blossoms started blooming (April 2008). It's been a stressful time at times this year, but I've been fortunate to have her around, and I've tried to support her in whatever little way I can while she's been struggling with all of her troubles as a now 4th year college student.

What will the next few months bring? I don't know. I'm trying to do my best at Shoyo for the next few months that I'm there. My contract ends July 29th I think, which means I have just a little over 3 months left. After that, I gotta find a new place to live, and a new job as well. Certainly, difficult times are ahead for me. But, I'm not so worried. Overall I'm pretty happy here, and am happy to stay here awhile longer while Yukari finishes up her school and we figure out what we'll be doing together.

Well, that's all for this update. No guarantee on when the next one will be - if you want to see an update especially soon, bug Yukari! And if you are Yukari: well, you know how to bug me! :P

Thanks for reading!

- Paul

April 19, 2008 (2008年4月19日)
Multimedia Update

I've been really busy this year with many things, and so updating this blog has generally been a task set to the back burner. However, this weekend I've had mostly to myself, so I've taken the time to kick back, relax, play a few games, and also update my site.

So, there's new videos and new photos. The videos are mostly so-so save for maybe one or two, so I advise skipping them, but they're here for the curious. (Among other things, I -really- need to get a good camera for shooting videos instead of using just my cell phone!) There are a number of new photos though, including ones I missed uploading in the past.

The following sections are all new:

And, since there is overlap between the pictures I've already uploaded and the new stuff, listed below are links to the folders which have received additions:

- Paul

Japan Blog for 2007