Personal Space

Once I was done with JET and no longer part of that program I did not have to attend any of the mandatory events. While I have friends, having work related events where I ran into other people allowed me to make friends. I have significantly fewer friends.

I'm not writing this as a sob-story, just to set the stage. There is a new English teacher in my town as of last August and we've become friends. She and I grab dinner about once a week now. There's a place in Osaka that does all-you-can-eat wings on Wednesdays and we hit that up once in a while. Delicious wings. Sauce Boss. You should go if you can.

So anyway, we went last night. Since we live in a really Inaka place, I drive about half way to Osaka, park somewhere cheap and then it's a shorter train ride. Sad thing is I can't enjoy an adult beverage with my wings. Whatever. I like wings enough that I don't need anything else. Not that I’d mind a good Whiskey Coke. I'd rather not be arrested and lose my license.

Anyway. Arrive in Osaka. I pick up some cards for a Standard deck I’m likely going to play in Magic Fest Kyoto. Head over to the restaurant. Realize it's about as cold now as it was in January the last time we went. Finally arrive. It's surprisingly not packed. Wings come out quickly and hot. Real good. I pack away thirty or so. Love it.

My friend says she wants to grab some Starbucks. There's one near the station, so cool. I can enjoy an overly sugary treat now and again. Get the drinks. We're chatting about bullshit when I sense someone standing near me.

Now, I say I don't have many friends and that is kind of a lie. I know lots of people, but I’m a bit socially awkward and usually afraid that people hate me. So I look up and it's this guy in a, well, eccentric outfit with a big grin on his face. I don't recognize him. He offers me a fist bump. I slowly rase my tightly clenched fist and my anus begins to tighten up.

He thanks me for wearing his favorite color. I don't remember what I said in response. My friend at this point has hung her head down to avoid any contact. I don't blame her, but now I'm in this alone. The stranger asks if I'm a teacher. I reply that I am. He said he knew that because I had class. Am I being hit on? Flattering, maybe, but I’m not interested. Sorry. Anyway, he offers a fist bump again and then says something to my friend and offers her a fist bump. She obliges and the guy walks off and starts talking to a Japanese man and woman sitting an other nearby table.

So my friend and I exchange a “What in the fuck was that?” look and resume chatting. Mid-sentence she violently jerks her head to the right, covers her mouth and looks utterly terrified. I’m concerned about what this guy might be doing now. I say that I don't want to look. She has no response. I slowly turn my head to see just the guy’s leg jerking up and down. Oh shit.

Now, I’ve worked in a public library before. Is this guy jacking the mean bone in a Starbucks? No. He is not. But besides his violent leg motions there is a large puppet head sticking out of his backpack. Staring at us. Deep into our souls, if we have them. I’m not sure God exists anymore.

I finish my drink and my friend downs hers. We leave. I notice the guy is, what you might call, “rocking out” but the tune seems to be in his head. He's using scissors to cut strips of paper.

If it sounds like I’m making fun of this guy or I’m being mean, I apologize. I don't mean to cast any aspersions. I wish I had more of that sort of confidence to talk to more people. But sweet Yuukichan's papa, he scared me. There was just a... What is the way to say this where I don't sound like an asshole? Lack of understanding? I wasn't in the mood for a conversation with a stranger. Maybe it didn't go on for the eight hours that my soul processed it as, but I wasn’t in the state of mind to say “I'm not in the mood to chat, sorry.” and instead just awkwardly remained quiet while the situation played out.

I did have that dirty feeling afterwards where I check that my wallet is still in my pocket, make sure my bag is still at my feet and feel a bit alert. And maybe I’m the asshole here because the guy was just trying to be friendly.

That puppet haunted my dreams.

Beta Testing

For the past few years I have been installing the beta versions of iOS on my phone. It's not a good idea. I know this. Anything could happen.

Last week when I was in BitSummit, my iPhone kept shutting down. Really, really hot. I run the beta software and I think "Well, it's not impossible that the beta is getting into some sort of crazy loop and over heating and shutting itself down, right?"

So when I got back home I scheduled a Genius Bar appointment and went to restore my iPhone to 9.3.2 just in case.

"Please input your password."

Squeeze me? I do not remember putting the encryption on my iPhone. Some quick searching turns up that there is an option for you to save that's password in the Keychain. Phew.

Of course, it's not in the Keychain.

Palms sweaty, I start typing. This password, that password. Nothing. I look through my notes files in case for some dumb reason I decided to write it down in there. Nothing. 1Password. Nothing. I'm fucked.

Except there is iCloud Backup. I can do that. I do instantly and spend the next few days trying to remember that damn encryption password. But I got nothing.

Bring it to the Apple Store. Software tests checks out. The Genuis squeezes my phone and sighs. She thinks the batter is getting fat. Brings it to the back room. I'm not the only one who has gained weight over the past year. Free new phone for me. Should increase the resell value in September, especially since my old one had a big chunk taken out of the bottom right corner when I dropped it.

Get my new phone. It's iOS 9.3.2. Of course. So here I sit in Osaka, typing away on my iPad Pro while my phone downloading beta software over Apple's WiFi, me praying my iCloud Backup will work.

Passwords, people. Be careful with passwords.

iPad Pro in the classroom

I wanted an iPad Pro. So I got one. With the Smart Keyboard. And the Apple Pencil. I wasn't quite sure what to do with it until I noticed my unused Apple TV. Bring the pair to school, hook the Apple TV up to the TV in the A/V room in which I teach and AirPlay. Boom! I could write out the words that my students are spelling out. I could highlight words in the stuff we're reading, I could write software to use in class. Plus, easier to show videos.

So I brought it in to work today and gave it a test.

Second period was my first class. Fifth graders. New students for me. I typed up a little greeting on the iPad Pro and had it displayed on the TV. Kids when nuts when I picked up the iPad and walked

Third period was a disaster. The Pencil just stopped responding. As I go over the way to write the small letters of the alphabet with my sixth graders, I result to drawing with my finger after disconnecting the Apple Pencil twice and reconnecting it via Bluetooth. But nothing. Except for intermittent moments of kind of working. How did I break my Pencil already? Is there some Bluetooth interference? This is a bust, I fear as I prepare for the next class of sixth graders.

Fourth period begins. I look down at the Pencil and noticed the tip was barely hanging on. I tighten it and it works. Whoops. In my nervous fiddling I had unscrewed the tip. Sorry Apple! Fourth through sixth period went great. I zoom in on the worksheet the kids were working on and go over the strokes of each letter with them. Using the various features of Notability, I draw a j and a J and then "cut" the J out and overlay it over its smaller version to show the students that the sizes are basically the same, you just draw the one lower and add a dot. This was not in my lesson plan, I just came up with it on the spot. But it was great. The kids loved it. I ended my classes with some phonics learning software. The kids totally dug it.

Now the day is over and I am writing this on the same iPad Pro. Boom. Love it.

Other than my own sabotaging of the Pencil, everything went great. The battery more than lasted[footnote]I charged it during lunch even though it didn't need it.[/footnote], swapping between typing on the Smart Keyboard and using the pencil was a great. It was so cool to just walk around class, writing, explaining and sometimes even giving students who needed the help a close up view of my writing, all while the other students got to see it on the screen.

My only complaint would be that the box the Apple TV came in is not meant to be used like this. I'll need something else to carry that around in, but otherwise, great success.

Creepy, crawly

I had an encounter with a spider today and it ended poorly for the both of us. I reckon the spider got the worse part of the deal as it now resides in a landfill, and is deceased at that. I, for better or worse, will go on with the memory fresh enough to be unsettling for the better part of the next few days.

Of the many movie advertisements I saw as a youth, none stood out in my head so much as the one for Arachnophobia. Even now I feel a deep, unsettled feeling just thinking about the film, one I never saw. I recall my parents renting it. I did not go near the living room that night.

As I write this in a room I have written in many nights over the past few years, every shadow has taken a hideous change. This house was once sacred, untouched by fairly large spiders with legs still twitching as it lay their in the last moments of its life.

The inability to move, the difficulty of breath, none of these things are attractive or desirable. I only feel a sense of shame now that the event has passed. The only thing changing is the spider’s size gets larger in my head each time I pause for a second to look around the room to see if another one is here.

Where does the fear come from? And what is it exactly of? The surprise is one thing. It is hard to be unaware of a dog, but an insect or a spider can just “be there” after it was not for so long. But once the initial shock of the spider is done and over with, what is going to happen? I am giving an immense amount of power to something that can only do little to me, and not that much to begin with.


I went in for diabetes tests yesterday.

I have been showing a few symptoms, which is scary. I know it is not the end of the world but it would definitely signify a lot of necessary changes. Essentially I would be disappointed because I feel like I have been making strides towards at least eating healthier. That, of course, guarantees nothing.

When the nurse was about to take my blood I mentioned that it would be best if I got to lay down. I pass out. I have no idea if thinking that helps it happen or not but I certainly have had if happen enough to be cautious.

After the blood was drawn I asked for a cup of water. Suddenly I was soaking wet and being shaken awake by the doctor. Passing out in this case is such an odd sensation. There is a distinct burning sensation and a feeling like the world has rebooted. It is awful. Makes me not want to restart my computers.