genki desu

Friday, November 03, 2006

New blog

My new blog can be found at www.josephpsweeney.blogspot.com

Monday, October 09, 2006

Our Apartment





You can see most of our apartment in the pictures. The trap-door that you see is where we can store vegetables, perform magic shows, and it also doubles as a place for Connor to sleep. There he can stay cool and crisp until we are ready to bring him out.

Japan vs. Mississippi: Round 1

Food:
Japan- Overall, the food here has been OK. I spent the first week making sure I didn’t eat horse, or otherwise eat any animal I can ride or pet. Surprisingly, I ate at many American restaurants during my training. Denny’s is huge in the Tokyo area, which is more than I can say for Mississippi. Now that we have moved to Iga, we eat pretty much exclusively at home. We bought a rice cooker, and I found a great, nearly new hot water maker on trash day (retail, $70). So basically, we push a button and rice is made, and push another button when we want hot water. Also, our microwave doubles as a toaster, and casserole maker, and I believe it will play movies if you push the right button.

Mississippi- I learned that there is no food that cannot be deep fried. After trying deep fried Oreos, I discovered the reason that Mississippi tops the list for obesity. But some of the food was great. BBQ pork is great, and Ro-tel dip is also something I miss.
The verdict: I think the deciding factor has to be grits. What a terrible food. Corn is good, but if you turn it into plaster putty, it doesn’t taste good, no matter how much you cover up the flavor. Lots of people say, “I like grits, but only if you add…(cheese, jelly, deep fried Oreos, etc).” I found out much later that grits came from a time when there was very little food, and they had to grind up things to eat. It’s hard to imagine a time when there were more than 10 skinny people in Mississippi.

Transportation:
Japan- The greatest transportation system I have ever seen. We live within a block of two train stations. From those train stations, we can travel anywhere in Japan. There is also a bus station next to the train station that offers direct service to Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka.

Mississippi- This makes me think of a person who moved to Mississippi from New York. They got all the way to Batesville, and they were waiting for the bus from Batesville to Oxford. There is no bus from Batesville to Oxford. With what I know now about public transportation in Mississippi, I am surprised he got as far as Batesville.
The verdict: No contest.

Weirdness:
Japan: In Japan, people have no concept of geography. They have no sense of where things are. Most of the streets are not named. In Tokyo, the city is divided into sections, and the street signs will just say the name of the section of town. So at the intersection, it will appear that both streets have the same name, when in reality, they don’t have names at all. Because of this our address takes up most of the envelope.
Mississippi: In Mississippi, they love sports. They are insane about football and baseball. But there are no professional sports teams! The college teams they have rarely win, and the stadiums are small. I went to an Ole Miss game, and was not impressed. There were empty seats, and little to cheer for. They lost to Wyoming, which I had always thought was still uninhabited. That’s just weird. The verdict: Valuing something so much, but being bad at it is one thing, but not having street names is just too strange. Japan –1

Education:
Japan: I have seen students studying until 10:00 pm on a Saturday at my school. Many of these kids are spending 15 hours a day either in school or studying.
Mississippi: There still beating kids at schools, and they think it works. The education in Mississippi ranks at the bottom of the barrel, and people are still scratching their heads.

Paycheck deductions:
Mississippi: I had to pay federal tax, state tax, social security, health plan (I won’t go off on this) and retirement fund (wasn’t social security supposed to be the “retirement fund?”). When it was all over, I spent about 25% of my check on “benefits,” which were a complete disgrace to the word “benefit.”
Japan: They deduct nothing from my paycheck.