Diary of mistar yukipanda

Dear Mr./Mrs. JET Administrator.
Hello! My name is Mr. Panda and I want to thank you for sending me to the freezing ass end of Japan. I know that on my “location request” form I wrote down such wonderfully warm places as “Kobe” “The Kansai region” and “Okinawan Islands”, but I appreciate that in your infinite wisdom you took that to mean “Please send me to the coldest place on Honshu one can possibly fathom”. While it’s true that I could be sucking down a couple of Asahi’s and stuffing my face with Takoyaki in a warm and cozy izakaya in the middle of downtown Osaka, instead you have been kind enough to give me the rare opportunity to experience what it feels like to be stuck in a snowstorm so severe snow gets in your underwear…! Thank you so much – coming from Wisconsin, being unable to feel my fingers or toes is a sensation that reminds me of home and helps to ease any potential homesickness I might encounter. It’s not like I was trying to escape that frozen hell on earth or anything…
I’m very very cold in this picture…
Mistar Panda
I made the mistake of riding my bicycle to school in the morning (primarily as a consequence of failing to leave enough time to get to school on foot, since I didn’t realize the full extent of the snowfall until I stepped outside). I made it, sort of, in what was my own personal recreation of the thrilling, seat of your pants, permanent brush with death that is the Winter X games, sort of slip sliding and veering out of control every which way, snow and slush flying up in my face, big snowdunes crashing into my shoulders, dodging old ladies wielding shovels filled with snow and taxis careening with a big slushy smoosh into my path. Have you ever seen those X-games where they ride mountain bikes down snow covered mountains? Yeah, it was sort of like that. Only without all the multi-million dollar endorsements and uhhh, medical insurance.
The view outside the staff room window
Needless to say, I did not ride my bike back. It was impossible. Instead I walked it. Or rather more appropriately, dragged it through several feet of snow.
Those are bicycles buried under there…
Remember back when I mentioned that K-town’s approach to “snow clearing” (and I use the term sarcastically) was to install a series of sprinklers in the road which then proceed to spray water all over the streets when it snows? Guess what?
This person had shoveled their whole driveway clear just 2 hours prior.
So instead of snowy streets, now we have icy, slushy, snowy sub-zero soups of slush that have overrun the drainage ditches and have made it even more impossible for cars or people to get anywhere. And yet they continue to pour water onto the streets, primarily because if they stop moving the water, it will all instantly freeze into a solid sheet of ice, since the temperature has been steadfastly below zero for the past two days.
As much as I criticize big ass American trucks and SUVs, I do realize that in some places, they definitely do serve a purpose. Like good ol’ Wisconsin. I never saw a Dodge Durango get stuck in the snow before. But I did see some piteously tiny Mitsubishi Minica’s and small Honda K-cars get impossibly stuck in the snow, so much so that “stuck” seems not an appropriate word, but rather a metaphor like “the geeky kid get’s his ass beat by some big honkin’ bullies, who then drag him out to the school yard, stick him upside down in a snow dune then bury him up to his ankles in show”. Actually I saw one car get about halfway up a hill, then amidst a lot of tire spinning and slush-slinging start to lose traction, then slowly start sliding back down the hill despite its driver’s frantic efforts to the contrary, until it finally settled somewhat violently into a snow dune at the bottom of the hill. I didn’t stick around to see what happened after that ;)
You can’t see cars coming until it’s too late…
The other problem here is that while the main streets are “cleared” by a combination of water sprinklers and sliding cars acting as improvised snow plows, the smaller winding back streets (of which there are a ton, as in all Japanese cities) are entirely dependent upon good ol’ “people power” to clear the staggering amounts of accumulated snow.
I learned a new Japanese word yesterday: “Jyosetsuki” – “snow blower”. And I also learned that nobody in Japan seems to have one. So instead they rely on that traditional human standby of snow removal – the shovel.
Unfortunately the roads I take to go to work are lined by houses entirely inhabited by senior citizens. With all deference to the aged, your average 72 year old obaasan simply isn’t up to the task of clearing 35 cms of snow (yeah, I said 35 cms – that’s what fell in the first half of the day!) with a shovel. So instead I got to play the role of Shacklton on his artic expedition and force myself through what was literally up my thighs at times, snow while dragging my poor panda bike behind me. I definitely got my exercise for the day!
Looks like an innocent classroom, doesn’t it? Just wait…
But anyway, I’d like to switch gears and talk for a minute about the phenomenon of the mysteriously multiplying toilet paper rolls in my classrooms.
It all starts with this one. I think it’s the TP Hive Queen…
A while back, I entered one of my classrooms and noticed a roll of toilet paper sitting, for no apparent reason, on the teacher’s desk. While I certainly though that was odd, I just figured there must have been some (no doubt poop-related) logical explanation for why it was there, and sort of moved it aside without a second thought.
Over time, however, I began to notice toilet paper rolls in other classrooms, and while it bugged me, again, I just figured there must have been a perfectly reasonable explanation – maybe the kids just got a lot of runney noses or really had some hygeine issues, etc. :)
*cue ominous music*
But then in the back of my mind, I began to subconsciously note that not only were there toilet paper rolls in my classrooms, but their numbers were starting to increase.
In short, they were multiplying…!
I found three TP rolls hiding in various student desks.
Convinced that this must be a figment of my imagination, I let it pass until earlier this week, when as I was going on and on about the incredibly interesting details of past participle construction, I began to count how many toilet paper rolls were in my classroom.
In fact, the number that were readily visible with even a cursory glance was unnerving and I made up my mind then and there to do a proper census after class. The results, as you can see in the pictures?
They seem to be reproducing on their own…!
This one was no doubt making its way towards a dark place to hide…
Now keep in mind, this is a classroom where just two weeks ago, there was not even a single box of tissues. Now, what started as a lone toilet paper roll sitting on the teachers desk has erupted into a full fledged invasion force of more than seven rolls of toilet paper! What’s happening!? What’s up with this!?
I asked some of the other teachers in the staff room, and they just responded with a shrug and a “what in the world are you going on about?” sort of look. Does this bother no one else!?
I think this one is molting, possibly into a more dangerous and aggressive strain.
Perhaps it’s just my training as biologist, but when some species, be it bacteria, mad-cow disease-causing prions, the SARS virus or Toilet Paper Rolls (TPR) begins to multiply its numbers at an incredibly fast rate for no apparent purpose, I begin to take notice. Haven’t you people ever watched an alien movies? This is how the invasion begins!!
Tom: “Hey Jane! How’s it going? Say, what’s up with that gigantic pulsating slime-covered green pod?”
Jane: “Hey Tom! I don’t know! Say, let’s go get some ice cream!”
Tom: *ignores horrible screeching sounds from alien pod* “Okay, swell! Let’s go!”
I caught this one trying to make a break for the door, no doubt to start a new colony.
aaaaand the next thing you know, everyone’s walking around with a brain sucking alien attached to their domes. See? That’s the way it works.
I’m determined to get to the bottom of this mysterious TPR mystery before it’s too late. If you don’t hear from me for a while and then I am discovered wrapped up in toilet paper strung up in a dusty corner of a maintenance closet, well….. you know where you should start investigating…!
Now listening to: “Steady and Co. – Shunkashuutou”
(Kisetsu wa nagarete (hey) sugisarishi hibi yo (hoo) / Deai ya wakare de (hey) arata na tabiji wo (hoo) / (Comin’ up) shunkashuutou (x3) / sou we gotta go new world!)
10:58 pm

2 Reactions

  1. Brittney

    What’s up friends, its impressive article about educationand entirely defined, keep it up all the time.