Thursday, July 31, 2008

Updates and ramblings!

I can't believe more than 2 weeks have passed since I blogged! Wow time flies!!

We have been very busy which is the excuse I will use for not blogging. I am also feeling very much like a wilted flower. I HATE this weather. It is unbelievably hot and humid here. My boss has even taken to covering the windows to keep out the sun or it doesn't even feel like the air conditioning is on. We (my honey and I )have pulled down the shutters on our sliding glass doors (put there for typhoons) since we get the afternoon sun and I kid you not, you could bake bread in those 2 rooms. So the temperature is ok (with air conditioning of course) but it is dark in those rooms so between the heat, humidity and darkness I am feeling a bit off! UGH...2 more months of this crap!

Good ...great news!
I have been dreaming for a while of our neighbour moving out. I always thought he was a student (and therefore would likely move soon). I dreamed that we would move our office in to that apartment. The little office we have now is great and I am thankful we have it but already it is too small so that is why I was dreaming. But the other day I came home and he had just had an air conditioner installed so I realized he wasn't moving any time soon. There is an empty apartment downstairs but it is next to the crazy old lady so don't want to share any walls with her!So I said to the Universe (or God if you like)..." ok...I will let that dream go...when it is right something better will come along". Well...the next morning we were woken up by knocking at the door. My honey answered and chatted with someone. He came back to the bedroom with a box. It turns out our neighbours below us are moving out and they brought us a good bye present (no, we aren't close with them-it is the Japanese thing to do when you move). So, we immediately emailed our landlord and told him we wanted to move out of the little house (our office) and into the downstairs apartment. He said yes!!! So, in August we will be moving our office into the apartment below us! I am soooooo excited! I am excited not just because we will have much more space but because there is a small (tiny) backyard!! I am going to block it off to make it private and put a little Japanese bbq and some chairs!! One of the rooms I will make into my office and craft room. I will put a comfy chair there to read. We will have much more space for all of our stock etc. Can you tell I'm happy?

I thought I would end this entry with a very funny and true story. This conversation took place a couple of years ago but it is still funny (I write down his cute English so that one day I can write a book).

Ok so Futoshi and I were watching tv and a commercial came on about a movie that was going to be on tv later that week. I wasn't really paying attention but Futoshi saw someone in the commercial and wanted to know his name ...

Futoshi:who is that guy?

me-what guy?

F-you know that guy...some singer

Me-who are you talking about?

F-you know that singer named "corn beef"

me (he had my attention now)-WHO??!!

F-you know that singer from a while back named "corn beef" or at least his name is "something beef"

me (after a lot of thinking)-you mean "meatloaf"?

I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe!! Still laugh when I think about it.
Hope it was funny...maybe you had to be here!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I got a mini pc for less than $1!

So the other day my honey and I went into town to buy fabric. We came with 2 computers instead and for the one in the above pictures we got it for less than $1 !!

The we are sitting at starbucks and my honey is complaining (again) about how slow his computer is so we decided to buy a laptop for him. So we went to my favorite electronics shop. We were looking at laptops and suddenly there was a "time sale". They had a sony vaio normally around $1500 on for $1000 for 1 hour. So we checked it out and decided to buy it. Then we went to the counter...not the place you pay but the place where you sit down and have everything explained to you. We decided to put the older laptop downstairs in the office for the time being so we needed an internet connection down there. By joining that provider we got another $200 off the computer! So...we had to wait 30 minutes so we walked around the shop and found the display (1st picture) selling mini pcs for 100 yen. So we asked the first salesman about it. The plan-join emobile service and get the mini pc for 100 yen. The guy said that monthly plan was 2,900 yen-6,700 yen per month ($29-$67). If you look at 30 web pages it will cost you 2,900 for the month and if you look at 70 web pages it will be 6,700 per month. Well...that didn't make much sense since I can look at 30 web pages in an hour. So, we walked away. I kept saying "I want a toy" to my honey. We saw the same display in another area so we decided to double check the deal and asked a different guy. Turns out the maximum I would be charged (no matter how many pages I look at) would be 6,700 yen so I said "sign me up". So we went over to the counter and he explained everything. I handed over my 100 yen and got my computer!!
I LOVE THIS THING!!! I went shopping the next day and while shopping I turned it on and checked my inventory to see what I didn't need and what I did need. See we have so many items in our shop that I actually forget what we have or what we need so this little guy will save us money and I can check email, our business etc from anywhere!!
I've been showing my students and friends and they are shocked since normally the price for the machine is around $450.
I am one happy camper!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Things you probably didn't know about Japan-Bathrooms

Bathrooms....public bathrooms are an interesting place in Japan. The first picture is that of a noise machine. These make the sound of a flushing toilet and the reason they were installed in many public places (malls etc) is because Japanese women would continuously flush the toilet to cover the... um....sounds made while going to the bathroom. Freaked myself out the first time I accidentally set one of these things off!!
One thing I really like about Japanese public bathrooms (at least in the malls) is that they are built almost like rooms. In Canada, when you close the door you can see through cracks on either side of the door but here there are no cracks to see and in many cases you can't even see the feet (unless you are kissing the ground). You know it is being used by the color on the sliding lock. I always feel exposed when I use a public bathroom in Canada now!

The second picture is obviously toilet will often find it folded like this. Mostly older women seem to do this. I know if I go to the bathroom after one of my older female student used it I will find the toilet paper folded like this. I meant to take a picture last time I saw this but forgot so I took a picture of my own toilet paper but I couldn't fold it right so I asked my honey....I told him I know for sure now that he is Japanese (he often seems more Canadian/American than Japanese) since he can fold the toilet paper like this!!
In Japan, bathrooms are divided in a Japanese house so that actually there is a "toilet"room and a "bath" room. The toilet is a completely different room so that someone could be in taking a bath and someone else can use the toilet. So, many "toilet rooms" don't have a sink but the toilet is filled by having the water first come out the top and then into the tank (picture 3) this is how many people wash their hands...there will be a hand towel nearby to dry your hands. It sounds gross and no....there is no soap but many people use it!

Japanese also have "bathroom slippers". go to a friend's house and take off your shoes. They will probably give you guest slippers to wear. When you want to go to the bathroom you remove these slippers at the bathroom door and put on the bathroom slippers which are always in the bathroom and placed in such a way that you just step into them. When you are done, you basically back out of the room so as to leave the bathroom slippers the proper way for the next person. You then put on your guest slippers. Sounds like a bit of work but you get used to it.
I've gotten so used to all of these things that I just take them for normal but when I think about really is different here!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Japan And Credit Cards-UGH!!!

Ok...warning....this is a bit of a rant!

Many people think of Japan as technologically advanced....and they are BUT their banking and credit card systems suck!!

Actually there is 1 fabulous thing about Japanese credit cards-when you go to buy something and you pay by credit card they ask you "nankai oshiharai shimasuka" which basically means "how many times?" in other words they are asking you how many months do you want to take to pay it off. I LOVE this. So if you buy a big ticket item, say a washing machine, you can tell them "gokai" 5 times (ie months) or up to 24 in most cases. So you know exactly when it will be paid off. Revolving credit is kind of new here. We don't have it nor do we want it.

Now the rant....sooooooo many places DO NOT take credit cards! I'm not talking about mom and pop shops...I'm talking about stores in shopping malls....big shopping malls. And MANY places on line, do not take credit cards or something like paypal. So...if you buy online at one of these stores you then have to go to an ATM (which are not always 24 hours) and punch in all the store's info, your info, pay the bill etc. The ATM then spits out a kind of card that will make it easier to pay with the same store the next time. Personally, I think shopping online is supposed to make it EASIER to shop....what is with going to the bank!!! UGH!

Next story....the other day I tried to make a large business purchase online using my credit card. They take credit cards so I wasn't worried. The next day we get a phone call and they have to deny our order NOT because my credit card reached its limit but rather they have a limit to how much you can spend using a credit card!!! I actually looked at the ceiling and asked aloud....
"Does no one want my money?"

Rant over! ^__^


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