Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Voting and Vomiting

If you are a New Zealander who lives overseas and reads this page, you are probably over the age of 18.

IN THAT CASE YOU NEED TO VOTE!

Today is August 31 and overseas voting has officially begun for the New Zealand General Election on Saturday September 17th 2005.

You can now download voting papers from elections.org.nz on this link if you have already enrolled to vote.
https://secure.elections.org.nz/app/enrol/dvp/

They can be printed out, need to be witnessed as being overseas and then can be faxed back to New Zealand.

If you haven't registered to vote yet there should still be time to do so if you start the process today. Go to
https://secure.elections.org.nz/app/enrol/
and enter your details.

The only wasted vote is one which isn't cast. You can only keep a democracy alive and viable through participation. Don’t give me any of this typical apathetic, ‘Oh its only one vote it doesn’t really change anything’ lazy, useless, slacker shit. Take some responsibility and participate. Here is a link to the election special page being run by stuff.co.nz which has topics on all the major issues for you to catch up on if you are behind on Kiwi news.
http://stuff.co.nz/election_2005.html

I have just voted and let me tell you it was a blow against those crazy Jesus beating homophobes at the destiny church let me tell you. Ah. The thrill of participatory democracy, I feel free!

Or you could adhere to the mindset that believes that if voting changed anything they’d make it illegal. However, this only seems to apply to corrupt democracies like the U.S., so in New Zealand it actually really does matter.

The welcome dinner on Monday night in saga was a unique affair. Well, actually the function was standard, but it was on a Monday. Which meant that the Celtic Heart had no knowledge of our intent to storm their bar en masse and cause some decent havoc. While the poor lone bar tender called in reinforcements it got so busy that ALT’s actually had to staff the bar to keep turnover going until the extra staff arrived. I decided not to offer my services as I was a bit to gone to comfortably test my nicely retired bar muscles.

We went to Karaoke, well, most people went to Karaoke. I stayed outside for an hour with an ALT, who shall remain safely anonymous in terms of this diary, while they vomited up enough food and booze to drown a small heard of Shetland ponies and proceeded to pass out. The only other person who really came down to help was Rachel, a now ex ALT from Australia. Maybe I should have applied for the prefectures assistant position. Oh it was messy, the cab ride across the prefecture was expensive, but this person needed immediate care and attention to avoid possible death. So it was worth it.

I didn’t do a thing yesterday as I spent it recovering from the previous evening. I stayed inside all day and washed the pieces of foreign spew off my shirt and pants.

Today I am back at school and have spent some time planning for classes tomorrow.

After one year this took me a grand total of 15 minutes.

Then I voted.

Now the most pressing and important errand I need to run is to jump on my bike and go and buy some tasty drink to absorb while I am eating my chicken cutlet and rice for lunch, which has just been ordered. After lunch maybe we will get to the story of what happened regarding me, the onset of puberty and the Catholic faith. With all this talk of voting and vomiting I just couldn’t find a decent segway into it like I had with the child and his hands over his ears.

Oh and as an aside, have you heard that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he will be taking the comments made by Pat Robertson to the U.N. to seek resolution, and that this resolution could involve the request to extradite stinky Pat to Venezuela to face terroism charges? Okay, maybe not to face terror charges, but they have joked about offering him free psychiatric treatment

Monday, August 29, 2005

Dragon Boating and skipping through the fields of my youth with Catholicism

I have returned to the fitness condition I had pre wisdom tooth operation. If I want to get my times at the pool any more accurate it will involve the incorporation of a stop watch into my exercise equipment. I was just over seventeen minutes last week over the one kilometer distance.

Japan is beginning to cool off a little bit, although the proclamation by Junichiro Koizumi earlier on in the year that offices should dress more casually and avoid using air conditioning to save power has worked its way down through the strata of Japanese Society. This means that my normally cool staff room is at ambient air temperature, which would be okay if I wasn’t wearing black.

School will begin again on Thursday after over a month of recess, then we will move into typhoon season and the period of regular three day weekends. I decided to slip in this morning to make an appearance and get some work done, which is just as well as now there is a major staff meeting.

I spent a formidable amount of time this weekend hanging out with a new French Canadian friend of mine, and we had a very good time. My Japanese skills, however limited, are proficient enough to take someone out to dinner. The weekend contained a distinct lack of sleeping in, again, but I wake at 6ish regularly now, so…

What the hell.

Most of the weekend after Friday night’s beer garden adventure in Saga was taken up with my last minute entry into the Saga Gaijin dragon boat team, Gaijin Ima. Ima meaning now in English. Kind of a play on Apocalypse Now. It was a weekend of distinctly Asian culture, except for the dinner on Saturday, and the viewing of a Shakespearean film on the night of the same.

Saturday was training and about eight members from a team of eighteen showed up.

I forgot how much dragon boating can hurt if you do it wrong. The only two people on the team with any dragon boating experience were me and Jayne. Jayne having the most recent and larger amount of experience took the lead and I gave pointers to people about rowing technique and timing. The last time I was in a dragon boat I had the haircut from Braveheart, much more acne and a distinctly lacking sex life, however, the remedy of these three things proved not at all useful in regards to actually helping ease the anaerobic workout induced by paddling a 250kg boat up and down a river with only half the crew in it.

Had an American style diner in Takeo during which I consumed two large hamburgers and a plate of fries.

Found a video copy of Julie Taymor’s film adaptation of Titus Andronicus on sale for only 190 yen. There are benefits in living in a society that has a distinct challenge in appreciating the finer points of Shakespeare on film. I did cock up horribly when selecting a copy of Hero on video, as I forgot that a copy in Japan would be in its native Chinese language with Japanese subtitles. However, the film is shot so beautifully it was nearly an hour before we could bring ourselves switch it off, despite not understanding a single word of dialogue.

Sunday dawned grey and overcast, but the cloud burned off during the day. I avoided all hint of sunburn by staying under shelter religiously except when racing. I was very surprised at how really quite good we were on the water in the first leg of the first race. We were clearly in the lead at the first turn! I thought that a Japanese dragon boating regatta would be littered with well trained crews with a perfect paddling rhythm, the most essential element of a successful dragon boat syndicate, worked out.

Some boats looked like caterpillars crawling along the river they were so out of time. One all female team with decent rhythm bet an all male team by four boat lengths due only to the fact the men were so horribly out of time with each other in the boat. This, for a group of Japanese men I believe would be quite humiliating. So we helped by taunting them a bit from the sidelines.

Our timing was really quite decent which meant that in all our races we managed to put at least a half boat length between us and our nearest competitor. Now this course is a massive 500m course, one leg up to a buoy, around the buoy and then a return leg. We hit our first turn quite fast, but got clipped by the front end of the boat behind us, sent away off course and impacted onto the bank of the river. The return leg was the low point of the day for the team; however, we had glimpsed the thrill of victory during that first leg, and resolved to win the next race later on in the afternoon.

Which we did, by five or six boat lengths.

Our turns were practiced after lunch and, after we had flicked water at any opposing boat pre-race, we had a good lead during the first leg. We went into our turn first, into clear water, with a lead sufficient to ensure no collisions would take place. The other boats seemed to lock up around each other and get caught in the wake water of our turn. We advanced to a supreme lead as they disentangled themselves and won convincingly.

A sojourn across town to the Saga cultural centre was then taken to view the best of Kyushu’s Taiko drumming groups. The Saga cultural centre is one of the grander buildings in little old Saga, and is relatively new and rather very nice. The Taiko was top notch and amazing to watch, although the small boy sitting near the front, who leaned back over his seat and looked at me with his hands clapped over his ears before ducking back down again at his parents insistence seemed to differ in opinion from me.

He reminded me of my behavior when I was taken to church by my parents, often being told off for smuggling in Asterix or Tin-Tin comics to read during that hour, which, for a seven year old boy, was painfully, hideously boring and to be avoided at any cost possible, especially when it was a whole hour of precious weekend freedom.

Catholicism.

I

Never

Got

It.

EVER.

Don’t confuse this with spirituality, which I have developed in my own way, based on my own life experiences. However, the Catholic churches form of worship is not the one for me. Even when I was very young I remember having to complete all these worksheets that were designed to instruct me in the catholic faith. I completed them methodically and with all the answers I assumed were supposed to go in the right boxes according to what I heard droned at me from a pulpit every Sunday.

But unlike many of my classmates in school, I just didn’t feel it. Ever. This had nothing to do with the efforts my parents did put into my spiritual education. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him put some in the fridge to use as ice for Gin and Tonic later on. And I remember wondering in church on day if someone could have just made all of what I was hearing up as a bit of a prank.

I did all of these worksheets and exercises, with appropriate responses leading up to the various sacraments one takes as a child in the catholic church simply to expedite my release to go and play with my dinosaurs, or read, or whatever it was at the time.

Now that being said it’s not that I think the Catholic Church at a community based level is a bad organization. It can in times of need help its members and forms a very strong part of the community, particularly on my mothers side of the family. It’s not that I think the priests I came into contact with as a child were awful people. They weren’t. They were kind and devout teachers who I still remember today.

I ambled along at my own pace over the years, growing more tolerant of the Church services as I realized an hour wasn’t really that long. However, I still had to force myself into the car and spent most of the time wondering what else was going to happen that day, whether or not someone had discovered a new kind of dinosaur, whether I would ever find one myself, and would it be worth digging in the garden again to try and find one after all.

That’s enough on that subject for now. Maybe later I will post the second part of my journey with the Catholic Church during my teenage years, or, ‘The Shitty Part’ as I like to refer to most of them.

Suffice to say that Gaijin Ima placed 10th out of 50 teams and I came home with a bottle of Sake and slept a solid eight hours last night.

Regardless of the Sake, of which I tried one cup. A Sake cup. It’s like a shot glass, but ceramic. I couldn’t maintain the levels of fitness I have if I drank as much as some of you entertain.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fuck Off Pat!


Once again the recent comments regarding the assassination of Hugo Chavez go to prove that the most dangerous and out of control group of religious fanatics in the world today are the insane rapture seeking Christian hardliners of the continental United States.

They bring to light the same harsh extreme right wing religious views and combine them with a militaristic, domineering idealism that would make Hitler and every single German soldier who went into battle with 'God is with us' written on their belt buckles proud.

For his blatant violence baiting and now his whinging backtracking, saying that his comments have been 'misconstrued' Pat Robertson is hereby awarded my own personal
ANAL EFFLUENT OF THE WEEK
Award.

Congrats Pat, you festering God botherer. By publicly stating that you endorse the course of action that would lead to another persons death you have undermined everything you ever planned to stand for in your career as a supposedly Christian broadcaster.

My dead cat is more Christian than you.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The End Of The Roaches










































New Digs

Well, this is the new look after the backup and move.

This morning I have archived the entire past year of writing and pictures into one word document on my laptop. It is 207 pages long at present count including photo's and illustrations.

Why the move? I just felt it was time for a change. New Year of work, new look, new options.

The new people we have recieved in Saga are a good crew and its nice to see some unfamiliar faces around.

I participated in the Nanayama shower climb again this year, however, I bought rubber soled toe booties and gloves, dressed all in black and made Mel from Christchurch carry the flag. I spent most of the event taking the hard climbs up again, which were harder this year due to heavy rain the night before.

More soon, stay tuned.