William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

140. Frightful Friday

I was at the DeoDeo tonight shopping for new rechargeable batteries for my camera when I happened upon a section of the laptop department dedicated to Netbooks. Several models were represented, including the Dell Inspiron Mini 9, which I had been coveting for some time. I like my current Dell laptop with its 15.5” screen and capable keyboard (can you see where this is going yet?), but it’s too bulky to be considered conveniently portable. It’s a chore to take anywhere.

What I want to have is a word-processing and net surfing machine that I can curl up into a corner with. I guess this machine fits the bill – I’m sitting on my bed with it now because the table in my room is too high to type comfortably for long periods – but detaching it from its veritable menagerie of disparate cords dampens most “Quick! I want to write something!” impulses. What I need is something small that I can always grab. Oh, and the price can’t be outrageous.

So as you can imagine, I was about ready to leap out of my socks with joy when I finally saw these machines that I’d been reading about for so long. I could even try them out, and I did!

/greetings drim dEoDeo, Gosh darm it,s harf to tyype on this thing;

Nothing dampens Netbook enthusiasm as quickly as trying to type on one. The experience is akin to conducting an all-recorder version of Beethoven’s Ninth or mowing your lawn with scissors. Their right shift keys were the worst offenders, scaling in at about the size of a crossword puzzle square on the microfiche of an archived newspaper. The thought of actually trying to compose anything on one made me shudder.

It’s too bad, really, because aside from their keyboards these are capable little computers. But the way they are now, they’re useless for, say, taking notes in class, even though they’re just the right size to carry around to and between classes, and they’ll sit comfortably on top of Saint Mary’s famous porkchop desks.

Advice: Wait. Keyboards and perhaps even prices will improve. Eventually the ($500) netbook will be offered in a broader chassis that will accommodate a proper keyboard. Or you could get a used MacBook Air by then, provided you can find a local, deceased Apple enthusiast to pry it from the cold, dead hands of.

But maybe one can get used to the keyboards, undersized though they may be. I should go back and try again for a good solid fifteen minutes and see if my fingers get used to it. Stranger things have happened. If I can train myself to type on a Mini 9 as effectively as I can on my 6400, I’ll probably buy one when I return. If not, then fughedaboudit.

I had a truly awful day at work today. It’s not even really work’s fault – I think I’ve been taking things a little too seriously, for one thing. For another, I’m seeing how my youth and inexperience has put me in this position where I am made to feel somewhat exploited. But as Joe said, “Now you know.” I just wish the knowledge wasn’t so bleak and grim.

It’s eat or be eaten in the big, bad world, and even though I think I finally have it in me to switch sides (or at least begin the journey in that direction), many times I have doubts, and I had them in spades today. It didn’t help that all I wanted to do was go far, far away. My classes went fairly well, but I didn’t want to teach them at their outsets – by the last class, I was shaking and trembling somewhat, and I wondered what would happen if I just dropped everything and walked. The innocent enthusiasm and unconditional approbation of the children was almost all that kept me from finding a quick, vertical balcony exit.

Sometimes I think children are the only people worth getting to know. Ours are artless, principled, and generally of good character. Adults are always playing little games of one sort or another – I do too, but not as effectively. I’ll miss these kids. I wish I’d made adult friends here, but that’s hard: “What do you do?” “I work in office! 720 hours every weeks! It is very stress!” “Oh, um, gee…” and you put in platitudes while looking for the conversational equivalent of a freeway off-ramp.

The day started on the wrong note when one of the big shots started barking out cleaning monitoring instructions to us. She was speaking Japanese, and the “translation” came later, but the tone she took was outrageous. There’s no need to talk (down) to co-workers like she did. M. pointed out that it’s something that he finds tends to happen to teachers, and that’s a fair explanation, but I don’t think it’s an excuse.

[On the humorous side, the associated duty chart is entitled “Clean and the Fire Managers.” Wouldn’t that be a terrific name for a band?]

The worst part is, it’s not like this is unusual – she does this to us all the time. It’s really upsetting – it puts me straight into defensive mode, and it makes me curse her (silently) and curse the school (sometimes silently). And yet, I could expect this again and again over my final two-plus months here. (“Kill me with a hammer,” I wrote.)

I began to brood. I wanted out of education entirely. The system is fundamentally flawed, and I can’t fix it. Where would I begin? Besides, I don’t even know enough sometimes to know that I know nothing. I feel tired, frustrated, helpless, and hopeless.

And the last straw came when Mk. came by and delivered an application form to one of my colleagues who will be having a guest stay over. I was shocked to see that such a form was made – essentially in response to the colleagues’ asking if it would be okay. (Tip: Never ask permission for things here if you can help it.) The reality was that the ball players and other students we share these dorms with aren’t allowed to have guests over, period. With us, the question had never come up, but now that it has, the administration in their wisdom penned this friendly form:

Request form
(visitor @ S.G. residence)

Name of applicant:
Room number:
Name of stayer: [my favourite line]
Sex: [is this a yes or no question?]
Relationship with applicant: [see above answer]
Passport No.: [I suggested my colleague just fake this. Two random letters and six random digits should do it. I gave my old passport number and suggested its use.]
Intended length of stay:
Purpose of stay: [see field five]

I wish my camera was working at that moment, because I would definitely have photographed the form. I had to transcribe it instead. Now, at this moment, with a bit of sober reflection, I might not even do that, but at that moment I’m sure smoke was coming out of my ears. I’ve never had any outside guests in for overnight or multi-night stays, but if I chose to do that, I sure as ____ wasn’t going to ask the school permission. I mean, within reason, I guess. Having somebody in for a month or more would be a little weird. But this has been done. More to the point, in the context of much shorter stays, I feel that who we have over is our _______ business, not theirs. And… passport number? Really.

Anyway, my colleague was actually prudent to ask in this situation, and I was a fool to remark upon any of it. I’ve learned from this not to get involved in things that don’t concern me – my two cents were not wanted by either party. There’s no way to escape it: I looked like, and was, an ass.

Sankanbi Recap: I didn’t teach a sankanbi lesson, but I taught a lot that day, and I also had driveway duty – I stood by the road and smiled and bowed slightly to the incoming parents. This is spiritually crushing, because they are more often than not coming in driving Lexuses, BMWs, Mercedes… It was a long, taxing day, and at the end of it all we had to change classrooms – the West Building was open again! While that means no more having to change shoes twice to go to Year One and Two classes (and thank God for that), it meant we had to reshuffle everything – and we’d just decorated for Sankanbi! (What a waste! We should have moved everything, decorated, and then held Sankanbi. Still, it’s not like you can schedule renovation work that precisely.)

[The west building being open means that a certain Pokémon poster promulgating the food groups is visible again. I’d said that I didn’t like what it represented (and it’s advertising inside a school to boot), but I guess it is appropriate because Pikachu.]

As part of the preparations, we waxed the floors the night before – you learn something new every day with this job! All of the little extras lately have run me ragged. Even cleaning the male teacher’s bathroom today as part of my Week Duty was taxing. When I get home in the evenings, all I want to do is listen to podcasts, watch political pundits, and drink beer. My abortive posts would begin with, “I’m so tired…”

If the rain presently falling lets up, I’m leaving early this morning for Temples 20 and 21. The kindergartener’s sports festival is also this morning, so there’ll be no sleeping in anyway (gee, if ya think batting practice is loud…) – I might as well be on the road, and away from any reminders of work. Update: Still here. I was up too late last night fighting off sleep and composing this, and this morning I almost had to sleep until 12:30. Eeesh. I'll go tomorrow. This is a long weekend, so I have that kind of casual, easy flexibility.
Tags: computers, electronics, forms, japan, netbooks, school, teaching, typing, work

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