4 - 28 July 2000
Not a lot of news this period except weather, weather, and the weather. It has been horrid for the entire month of July, but I probably could say that about every day since I arrived in Japan. This is the very worse place that I have ever lived from a weather point of view. There have not been more than a dozen days that I would describe as being really nice days and most of those have been on days that I have worked. Since I wrote last we have had a typhoon, Typhoon No. 3 (they only get names if the come ashore and kill people), hit the northern part of Japan on July 8th. I have always thought of typhoons as the same as our hurricanes but this was more of a tropical storm, as we would classify them. The winds never reached hurricane speeds or what I think is necessary to be classed as a hurricane. Maximum speeds in this storm were less than 100 miles per hour and the only damage done was a little flooding in a couple of towns to the south of me. We did get 10-11 inches of rain in about 24 hours and I was soaked through to my underwear by the time I got to work; the worst part was I stayed wet. We have no place to hang anything up at work so you can't even take a change of clothes with you. I should have brought a rain suit with me to Japan, which is the only clothes item that I have really needed that I don't have. Then on 22 July the Meteorological Agency announced that Rainy Season was over; it had officially started on 11 June. Of course we got rain that night but this has nothing to do with whether or not the Season is over.
It is the increasing heat and continuing humidity that is really getting to me now, with the promise of this to last into Sep. Even the heat and humidity of the US mid-west or Arkansas in the summer does not compare to this! Then to top off the misery - my bedroom air conditioner doesn't cool. It seemed to work for a few days then quit, a good banging seemed to revive it but it quit again after a couple of days and now it just works on an off but never well. The Head Teacher at Nova lived in this same room and he said the he and the guy that preceded me both complained that the unit didn't work and Accommodations did nothing. I haven't even bothered to call them and say anything; it is a waste of time and will only make me angrier when they ignore the problem. I will have to try to use a couple of fans and wet sheets or move into the living room where the unit seems to be working fairly well.
Also on 22 July we got another wake up call at 3:39 am. This time it was a 6.1 earthquake located about 100 Km from Iwaki and because of its strength/location we were shook rather hard this time. No serious damage done but I just barely escaped a good knock on the head when my bike fell over and almost ended up on top of me.
Maybe I can give you a thumbnail sketch of the other Nova teachers that I am working with since some of them are leaving soon and we will hopefully get replacements. The guy, an Englishman, which I replaced, had lived in the same bedroom that I now have and had left about a month before I got here. He is still in Japan and is working for Nova in the Osaka area. His girlfriend, an Australian, followed him to Osaka in April. Her replacement was another Australian guy that resulted in one of my former two roommates moving out. We then got two more Australian women in May and June bringing the total number of teachers to 10 at the moment. The country break down is as follows, 1 Canadian (Alberta) woman, 1 Australian (Victoria) woman, 2 Australian (New South Wales) men, 2 Australian (Queensland) men, 3 Australian (Queensland) women, and 1 American - yours truly. The guy from Queensland that came in April gave his notice last week and will be leaving about mid-August, the Canadian will leave on 28 August and one of the Queensland women will go in September. I am guessing that Nova will not replace these teachers as they leave so we will be working very full classes from mid-August to November. My roommate is taking off the month of October for vacation so that will put even more pressure on the remaining staff. The Head Teacher is from New South Wales and has been here about 3 years now. He is married to a Japanese woman that he met here and they just had a baby boy about 6 weeks ago. He is working on a Masters degree from an Australian university via the Internet and will probably leave Japan when he finishes that in a year or so. The next senior person is the girl from Victoria; she is a Chinese-Australian that doesn't feel she fits in a mostly white society but has cultural problems here in Japan also. However, she has just renewed her contract so she has about a year to go and has rented her own apartment, not a Nova place. The other guy from New South Wales and my roommate from Queensland came to Iwaki together in January so they have about 6 months to go. My roommate vacillates between leaving early and staying on for an additional 6 months; it will probably depend on what he finds during his vacation. The other two women from Queensland that came in May and June will not stay past their year contracts from what they are saying now. One of them is getting some teaching experience on her resume and will go back to teach in Australia and the other one wants to do some world job hopping with a NGO of some kind.
That is about it for now; I will be back with more sometime in August if the heat doesn't do me in. I have a tale to tell about Internet cost in Japan, stay tuned!