25 November 2005

Haven't We Met Before?

I'm at the airport. It's early, the coffee I had this morning seems to be on strike (it sure isn't working), and I'm irritated that the 4,800 yen ($42) taxi to the airport was about twice what I was told to expect. I'm afraid long-term parking might have been cheaper.

Oh... and I have this case of deja vu chasing me through the airport. I didn't catch her name, but the same agent from ANA has proceeded me. She was at check in, then at baggage check, and security. Now she's at the gate, waiting. Why? It appears that she's the English speaker on duty, so she preceeds me to take care of any issues. Sure, it's nice to have my own agent, but it's kinda creepy, too.

24 November 2005

Happy Thanksgiving Day

I'd like to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving in the most non-denominational way possible. While you're busy being thankful today, remember to be happy, too.

I guess that's all I have for now. I'll be in Tokyo and Kyoto for the next ten days, so I may not be able to write much. Cheers!

16 November 2005

Cooking Class 2 of 2

Cooking Class 2 of 2
Originally uploaded by gogakuhei.
Taught a cooking class today to the local cooking club. Since it's November and turkey day, I went with whole roast chickens, mashed potatoes, gravy, and "Norwegian Christmas Cabbage". The chickens had to be special ordered from the market. Nobody knew what to do with a whole chicken. I understand that the butcher hadn't had a strange request like this in some time. The checkout clerk didn't know what to make of them. Even the ladies in the class seemed a bit skeptical.

Oh, and the cabbage -- that was a fun dish. Cabbage, bacon, salt, pepper, and a dash of flour. Simmer/boil for about 45 minutes or until tender, then add 1/2 cup vinegar, and about 1/2 cup sugar. The goal is to have a balance between the sweet of the sugar and the sour of the vinegar. We wound up with a little much sugar, but it was close enough. Again, cooking something like this was a strange and new experience for the women in the class.

Cooking Class 1 of 2

Cooking Class 1 of 2
Originally uploaded by gogakuhei.
Two chickens, almost straight from the oven. I already have the catchpan simmering so I can make some gravy. Believe it or not, I actually was able to make a pretty good (non-dairy) gravy.

08 November 2005

Death Comes on a Tuesday

As I've whined before, things have gotten pretty busy for me as of late. Two adult conversation classes, four elementary school classes (well, clubs), and then a bunch of events came rolling along to settle on top of that. Halloween. Town festival. Evening party. Cooking class. Xmas party. Mid-year conference. I was overwhelmed for a bit, but hey -- things could be worse, right? And as I finally adjusted to manage the load, things changed.

My friend and sidekick, Raka, got a call last night. Her father had gone into the hospital and was in critical condition. From what I heard, she was pretty shaken up. I guess his health wasn't the best, but this came as a surprise. I went to work this morning and it looked like she's spent a good amount of the night and morning crying. After a quiet conference with our supervisor and the section chief, she arranged to head home. Our supervisor took care of the tickets and leave paperwork, I took over all the things Raka was working on, and she went home to pack for her noon flight.

At some point in the next couple hours, before she left for the airport, she called the office. Her father had passed away this morning, probably while she was getting the ticket and other things together so she could get home to see him.

We had talked a week or two about plans for winter vacation. She said that she wanted to go home because she wanted to see her family, and her father especially, because she didn't know how much longer he might be around. She even mentioned last night that she wanted to hurry home so she could see him one last time... and now he's gone.

It's actually been easier to assume the extra duties and responsibilities in light of the situation. Little things become trivial, and big things are just small things that need to be done. Family and friends are, in so many ways, more important that any stress you might expend at work. Focus on the important things, and everything else will (hopefully) fall into place.

Have a good, safe flight, Raka. Bid your family well.