Archive for category Azeroth
I am proud to say that I have hooked an Australian and an American on a Canadian TV show that we all watched while living in Japan.
Trailer Park Boys is just that funny!
After several days of intense apartment cleaning (and occasional beer drinking), Azeroth and I believe the apartment is ready for a NOVA inspection before our new roommate moves in. Windows and surfaces are clean, clutter was removed, the kitchen looked inviting, the horrible forest of mold was gone from the bathroom, and Azeroth had finished moving from his room across the hall to the large tatami mat room off the living room.
Was our cleaning job perfect? Not at all. But it was good enough and we had no desire to spend any more time on it.
I briefly considered moving from my oddly shaped bedroom into Azeroth’s old room, which was larger and not oddly shaped. There were a few reasons why I ended up staying where I was. The first reason was lack of time; with my parents coming tomorrow for two weeks, I didn’t have the necessary time to move all of my stuff into Azeroth’s old room and then clean up my empty room before the new roommate arrived.
The second reason was the previous state of Azeroth’s room. Don’t get me wrong, Azeroth is a good friend and a fun roommate, but his room was filthy. I actually found what appeared to be black mold on the wall when I was helping him move. To be fair, it could have also been food sauce of some kind. Knowing what the room looked (and smelled) like when we started cleaning was not a great incentive for moving.
Finally, even though my current room is oddly and inconveniently shaped, I’ve spent over a year getting it the way I like it. It’s comfortable and familiar, and I don’t feel like I am missing out too badly by staying put.
Bring on the apartment inspector!
When I learned that Azeroth and I were getting a new roommate in our company apartment in Numazu, I was also told that my new roommate was in his early 50s. This was a bit unusual because most conversational English teachers are in their early to mid 20s. Most of us travel overseas after finishing University to have an adventure before staring our real lives. There are some older teachers, but usually because they came to Japan and never left.
Azeroth and I are two guys who like staying up late, playing video games, and drinking beer. Worried that our new roommate might not be a good fit with the current culture at Ooka City Plaza, I decided to see what Google could tell me.
My new roommate is most likely an NFL kicker, or a retired classic video game programmer. Azeroth and I are both hoping for the second option.
In preparation for a move in inspection, my roommate Azeroth and I have been working hard to clean our apartment. One of the items on the inspection list is a check for mold under the bathtub.
The “bathroom” in Japan is different from what I was used to in Canada. Back home, “bathroom” was a room with a toilet, sink, and a bathtub or shower. In my apartment in Japan the toilet is in a room all on it’s own, which is very convenient for use when someone is having a shower. The bathroom itself is an enclosed room with a shower nozzle, a deep bathtub, and a drain on the floor.
To be truly Japanese, you need to wash yourself with the shower until you are completely clean, and then sit neck deep in extremely hot water. The bath water stays clean this way, and can be used by different people. My roommates and I have probably never used the bathtub for its intended purpose, opting instead for the convenience of the shower.
Since the bathroom is always hot and damp, it’s a great breeding ground for mold. Until we started our cleaning exercise, I had no idea that I could remove plastic panels from the side of the bathtub and get access underneath. When I did this, I discovered a black forest of thick mold everywhere. It looked like the entire underside of our tub had been taken over by the dark hair of Sadako from The Ring (Samara for those who have only seen the American remake).
After trying to remember if I had recently watched a haunted VHS tape, I headed across the street to the small supermarket in search of one of the most popular mold killers on the market: Kabi Killer (literally mold killer). I returned home, and sprayed about half of the bottle under the tub, periodically stopping to rinse with the shower nozzle. I’m not sure when the last time this was done, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it had been years ago. The whole experience was nasty.
English Teachers: when you get an instruction book on how to maintain your apartment in Japan, actually read it. Nobody wants to discover a dark mold cavern under the tub.
2016 Bonus Material: For an excellent read on maintaining your bathroom, check out this article on the excelled website “Surviving in Japan” http://www.survivingnjapan.com/2012/07/prevent-and-clean-mold-in-the-bathroom-japan.html
With a new roommate coming and only a week to get the apartment in order, Azeroth and I have a lot of work to do. NOVA is supposed to send an inspector for company apartments to make sure everything is clean and in order before someone new moves in. This apparently hadn’t been done for the last few people moving into our three bedroom apartment in Ooka City Plaza. We considered the chance that nobody would come again, but decided that we didn’t want to take the risk. It was also a good excuse for us to finally clean our filthy apartment. After work we cracked a beer and looked around to assess the situation:
- Azeroth wanted to move from his current room across the hall from me to Palmer’s old room off the living room. His room was literally knee deep in beer cans and food wrappers
- The main storage closet was filled with expired vitamin supplements and liqueur
- The living room was decorated with small toys from fast food meals and those plastic bubble machines in stores
- The fridge had condiments, booze, and expired food
- There was mold under the bathtub (apparently a common problem in Japan)
- The shoe storage in the front hall was filled with shoes that did not belong to Azeroth or I
- The kitchen cupboards were filled with pint beer glasses from local izakayas
- Everything was dirty
The closet was the first item on our list. Japan’s garbage disposal rules are confusing, so we decided that the best way to get rid of the supplements and liqueur was to dump it all in the toilet. Our toilet had seen some terrible things over the years, but I don’t think it was ready to handle load after load of vitamin pills. We topped off the vitamins with a bottle of egg based liqueur (eww) that had been in the apartment for at least 3 years. I recorded the occasion for posterity with my phone as the rancid liquid glooped into the toilet.
While we worked on the living room we returned to the poor toilet periodically to give it a flush. By the end of the evening the living room and closet looked much better, but there was still a lot of work left. We both made vague promises about buying cleaning supplies and curtailing our recreational activities until things were in order. It’s going to be a busy week!
** 2016 update – I watched the video of our cleanup again while I was rewriting this post. Seeing the state of our poor toilet made me giggle uncontrollably.
There were a bunch of sore, tired teachers at work today thanks to St. Patrick’s Day. Since it was Saturday, most of the teachers had to start at 10:00am. I started at 1:00pm and still felt rotten. I’m actually surprised that we didn’t get more complaints from students about pale, nauseous looking teachers on weekends.
During the day I found out that Azeroth and I were getting a new roommate at the end of the month. Since Palmer had moved to Hokkaido, we had been enjoying our 3 bedroom apartment between the two of us. Before anyone moves in to a new apartment NOVA sends out an inspector to make sure things are in order. My parents are coming to visit on March 25, which only gives us about a week to get things inspection ready. Azeroth and I are not the best housekeepers*, so we have a lot work to do in a week!
* When I say not the best housekeepers, I mean that we generally never clean anything.
A new Don Quijote (DonKi) location recently opened down the street from my apartment. Unlike all of the other teachers who live close to the station, I am fortunate enough to live across the street from 7-11, and less than a 5 minute walk from both Seiyu and DonKi. I love my apartment!
After work, Super Dave, Azeroth, and I met up and went to DonKi to load up on snack food. After a solid hour of wandering around, we left with booze, pretzels, salsa (hooray), spam, and other goodies.
I’m not sure whose idea the spam and cheese sandwiches were, but it wasn’t the best idea. Other than that, we had an enjoyable evening of snacking, drinking, and watching Fawlty Towers. The show is still funny 30 years later, and I’m sure people will still enjoy it for many years to come.
If you are visiting Japan, you must visit a DonKi location. It’s a necessary part of the Japan experience.
Hello readers, this is a story which didn’t originally appear on my blog 10 years ago. I usually have no problem writing about my own misadventures, but I am often reluctant to write about somebody else’s. It’s a fun story, and since it’s been 10 years I have decided to write it up properly. I’m not sure the exact date that this happened, but it was likely in January or February 2006. Enjoy!
During the first few months of 2006, there were drinking related events happening even more often than usual. In order to spare my liver and my wallet, I decided to decline an invitation to a standard post work izakaya / karaoke / last train home event. Palmer stayed home too, while Azeroth was out with the other teachers. We were having a quiet night in, when just after midnight I received a phone call from Christopher Cross; he was trying get Azeroth home in a taxi, and had no idea where we lived.
Most of the NOVA teachers in the area lived in one apartment building just north of Numazu station. Azeroth, Palmer and I were the only ones in a company apartment in a different location. Our apartment was east of the station close to the Seiyu department store, and about a 15 minute walk from the other apartments.
I asked Christopher why they were in a taxi, and he told me that Azeroth was far too drunk to get to the train station. This was unusual, because Azeroth had an insanely high tolerance for alcohol, and could function under levels of intoxication that would have dropped the average person. For him to be in a taxi, he must have been REALLY drunk. We told Christopher to tell the driver that we lived near Kadoike Park, thinking this would solve the problem.
A few minutes later we got a new call from Christopher. Azeroth had barfed in the taxi, and had managed to catch most of it in a plastic bag. Apparently catching most of it wasn’t enough for the driver, who kicked them out on the side of the road. After debating with the driver briefly, Azeroth fell out of the taxi, hitting the ground pretty hard. The driver pulled away, leaving them in an unknown residential area somewhere in Numazu.
I’m writing this story in 2016, where this situation would be a minor problem. Chances are good that one or both of my friends would have a smart phone with GPS and map software. Christopher’s Japanese was not great, so he likely would have a translation app ready to assist. The problem is that this story took place in 2006, where their cell phones could only make phone calls, send text messages, and take really crappy pictures.
Although we found the situation funny (because we weren’t there), Palmer and I decided we would try to help as much as we could. The first order of business was to find out where Christopher and Azeroth were. There are virtually no street signs in Japan, and Christopher was unable to read any of the signs on utility poles that might give a hint of where they were. We got them to start walking towards the brightest light they could find, hoping it was a major street.
I pulled out my atlas of local street maps that I had purchased after getting a bicycle. When Christopher and Azeroth found a main street, I asked them to read any of the signs they could see. Azeroth could read Japanese, but he broke his glasses during his fall out of the taxi which didn’t help the situation. Christopher couldn’t read Japanese, but was able to read the one nearby sign that had English, the sign on fast food chain Ringer Hut.
Palmer’s computer was nearby. He pulled up the Ringer Hut website and found the Numazu locations. We guessed at a few likely places and looked them up in my street atlas, which also displayed major stores. Christopher noticed that there was a gas station near the Ringer Hut, which helped us identify their exact location in my atlas. They were in the north east corner of Numazu near a large park called “Kadoike”, which was not at all close to the small park called “Kadoike” across the street from our apartment. Dear Numazu – this is confusing!
Now that we knew were they were, the next step was getting home. Thanks to my atlas I found that they were only a few blocks away from a convenience store. It should have only taken a few minutes to walk, but Azeroth was in no condition to walk quickly (or in a straight line).
They called back when they arrived. Christopher wanted to get the staff to call for a taxi, but didn’t know how to say that in Japanese. While I was trying to come up with a good translation, Palmer suggested that he just go into the store, say “taxi” over and over, and point at his drunk friend. This was surprisingly effective, and is a good reminder that the best communication doesn’t always need a lot of words.
Christopher told the taxi driver to go to Seiyu, the giant Wal-mart owned department store at the end of our street. Palmer, who was in fantastic shape, jogged down the street to meet the taxi. I tried to keep up and ended up panting and cursing. We met the taxi in the parking lot, and got a chance to see the damage to Azeroth. He stumbled out of the cab, carrying a plastic bag containing some vomit and a badly bent pair of glasses. He was bleeding slightly from his head and forearm from when he fell out of the taxi. Despite all of this, he was smiling and seemed to be enjoying his evening.
We thanked Christopher and sent him on his way home for some much needed sleep. Palmer and I escorted Azeroth home, cleaned and bandaged his injuries, and gave him plenty of fluids before sending him to sleep. The next morning Azeroth was still slightly drunk. We told him the story and made sure he gave Christopher a call to express his gratitude for helping Azeroth get home.
I obviously missed out on a pretty good party the night before, but it was still fun to help my lost, drunk friends get home safely. Who says an evening in is always boring?
In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I REALLY hate garbage day. Not just the regular pickup, but the big day where everything can be collected: plastic, glass, cans, old clothes, paper, and almost everything else that we are allowed to throw away.
Living with two other guys who rarely cook and who enjoy beer means lots of plastic and lots of cans. You can’t just drop stuff off, you have to sort everything by material, colour, and sometimes size. The volunteer garbage police supervise everything and don’t hesitate to let you know when you’re doing it wrong.
As stated in this previous post, we tried to send Palmer out as often as we could for garbage day. Even the strictest members of the volunteer garbage police are reluctant to tell the tall, muscular, bald Australian guy that he’s sorting his glass wrong.
I’m going to miss Palmer when he moves to Hokkaido because he’s a good guy. But I’ll also miss him because now Azeroth and I will suffer the wrath of the garbage police.
In most of the stories on this blog I write about my adventures with teaching, my life in Japan, or how much karaoke and beer I enjoyed the night before. However, from the end of 2005 one of my roommates had an interesting story happening which I never wrote about at the time (for reasons that will quickly become obvious).
When I moved in to my company apartment in 2004, Palmer was dating a youthful Japanese woman who spent a LOT of time in our apartment. She had a key and came and went whenever she felt like it. I’m sure this was a good arrangement for her and Palmer, but it annoyed Azeroth and I. The worst situation was when I had The Penpal over for some private time, and Palmer’s girlfriend came out of the shower wearing a towel. To be fair, Azeroth and I were not the world’s best roommates, but Palmer’s girlfriend, even though we liked her, was a regular source of stress at the apartment.
Near the end of 2005, Palmer broke up with his girlfriend and hit the rebound market pretty hard. He was tall, confident, fit, and fluently bilingual, which are all good qualities when you are on the prowl in Japan. Over beers we had learned that he was interested in two different female students at our branch. Note: for those who haven’t been reading, we worked at a conversational English school, so the students were mostly adults. Both of these ladies were in their 20s, and were regulars at our NOVA branch.
I guess he was working his charms on both of them to see if something would pan out. Somehow he managed to end up dating both of them at the same time!
NOVA policy strictly forbids teachers from interacting with students outside of the classroom. Most of the teachers did anyway, with the knowledge that if the supervisors didn’t catch you in the act, they probably wouldn’t say anything. In this case, Palmer WAS a supervisor. It was risky, but both of the students were aware of the policy and the position that they were in, so they were very good at keeping things quiet. This was convenient for Palmer, both for not getting in trouble, and it helped keep his two girlfriends from finding out about each other!
This arrangement presented some interesting situations. We would have one of them over to hang out at the apartment, and the other one would be over the next night. When he would be out with one, he would be very careful where he went. He had a very distinctive appearance, so it was easy to spot him in a crowd.
The most stressful situation happened at work; he ended up having both of his girlfriends in the same VOICE class (open conversation classroom) at the same time. He told us later that it was the longest 40 minutes of his teaching career!!
I’m not going to make any judgements about his behaviour (let he who is without sin…). I can say that it helped make life more interesting for not only Palmer, but his roommates Azeroth and I for the few months that this arrangement lasted.