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Sinking Boats and New Teachers

Thursday, August 03, 2006
A quick update tonight, as I have been busy all day. Perhaps you remember a while ago, when I went to Kui. On my way to Kui, I saw a funny boat and took a picture of it. A few days ago, I was at one of the schools I taught at, cleaning out my desk and making sure everything was ready for the next teachers. I saw a copy of the Chugoku Shimbun (The Central Japan Newspaper) and a picture on the front page caught my eye. I opened it up, and thought to myself "wow, a boat that looks just like the one I saw flipped over!

Then I looked closer.

It is the same boat! The Cougar Ace, from Singapore, that left Hiroshima and crossed paths with the ferry I was on had some sort of major malfunction at sea and heeled over 60 degrees to port off the coast of Alaska. Ironically enough, it is not sinking, just floating along on its side. 4,700 new Mazdas are stuck inside.

First, what are the odds of that happening. Second, what are the odds of that happening to a ship I saw passing Osakikamijima a week earlier? Third, what are the odds that having flipped over, the boat would be photographed, put on the front page of the newspaper here, and I would happen to come in to school and see a two-day-old newspaper with this picture on the cover? I would bet extremely low. The strange part is that this story came a so close to passing by without me even noticing. I wonder how many things have passed by me like that, interesting things that I just missed by chance or circumstance.

This does raise an interesting point. It was a beautiful day and I was taking a lot of pictures, and I took three pictures of the Cougar Ace - I have no way of knowing this for sure, but these may be the last pictures taken of the Cougar Ace before it flipped.

I should find the Captain and mail this picture to him.

Other newsflashes from the front:

1. I have just about finished packing and mailing stuff home, the total bill for sending my stuff home by mail is working out to about $700. That is a lot of money. I am sending stuff in Osaki Mikan (tangerine) boxes. I will have a nice collection of awesome boxes when I get home, and also an excellent cat. Here is a picture of those things together:

2. And the big news, today we can say hello to Graham Ruddle, who landed in Hiroshima at half past one today, and has filled the spot that Megan left vacant six months ago. He's on the island, living downstairs, and ladies...

...he is a handsome man. A JET who shall remain nameless told me she regretted deciding to go home, because she would have rather stayed and gotten to know Graham. Her words, not mine.

We did a tour of the island, got some groceries, and then went to the beach to put our toes in the inland sea. After standing there for a few minutes, Graham said "could you do me a favor? Could you take a picture of me here on my first day so I can put it on my blog?"

I'll put it on my blog too. Seems that after all he's my kind of guy.

I'm going to be in Hiroshima, possibly sleeping in a car Friday night, so expect the next blog to be on Saturday.

A Car and A Halfpipe

Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Time is running out. Just like that a weekend slipped by, day turned to night and then to day again, and I was one day closer to leaving. I have fifteen days left here, barely two weeks, and as I mail things home and get ready for new arrivals - it begins to dawn on me that things here are almost over, that I should start saying goodbyes and going to all my favorite places one last time. It's a strange feeling, and one that I don't particularly care to dwell on right now.

A couple weeks ago, a girl I met found out I had studied art and graphic design at school, and immediately asked me if I wanted to "make design" for a bread delivery van. My rule of thumb here has been "Never say no unless you have already planned something" - so I said yes of course, I'd be happy to. For about three days I forgot about it, and then one day Mori called me and said "my sister says 'hurry up with the design.'" Mori's sister works at the same place as the design requesting girl, and suddenly I went from no deadline to pushy clients contacting me to ask where the design was. I got to work on some ideas, and with a little advice from Mori, we hatched a plan to paint the car. Supplies were bought, sketches made, and last Saturday we got to work on the car.

Getting started. Mori and his sister, Hiroko, after we set the car up for painting.

We ended up doing the whole thing with tape stencils and spray paint. I'll let you be the judge of how it came out in the end. After the sunburn I got the day before diving, I was not taking any chances - straw hat for me.

It was unbelievably hot, but at least we had some shade.

While I did the front, Mori did the moji - writing - for the side.

In the Nakamura household it was time to put the futons out in the sun to air - and of course the dog comes too. Thank you to Hiroko for taking this picture, and most of the others for this day.

The bread, almost done. They had asked me for an image evocative of islands and bread, so I gave them that pretty literally.

And then it was done. Hiroko and I stood back from it and were sort of at a loss for words. We couldn't decide if it was cute, funny, or silly, bad or good, ugly or nice, it was just done. Mori's mother stepped out of the fish shop and said "wow, that bread is flying!" And so it was. Ladies and gentlemen, I have painted giant flying bread on the hood of a new Suzuki van.

Mori didn't' finish that night, so I have yet to see the finished writing.
I'll post a picture when I do.

The second half of the weekend was more photogenic. On Sunday Mori and The Circus were planning to officially open the new half pipe with a barbeque, skating, and hanging out. As an honorary Circus member, I was invited along. It was a beautiful day, blue skies, hot and sunny, with the cicadas in the background and music playing. I sat on a beach chair and had some barbeque.

Japanese Barbequeues - not exactly like the ones back home. I told Mori that we usually make hot dogs and hamburgers and he didn't believe me. One of his friends said "No no, it's true, I saw it on TV! They even grill bread!" - and then no one believed that. I had my strips of pork, grilled cabbage, and grilled noodles and enjoyed the barbeque, Japanese style.

Of course this party was to celebrate the opening of the new ramp, so there was a lot of skating, and quite a bit of falling, as everyone was on their sixth or seventh beer.

Only Mori can pull off skateboarding on a half pipe in old sandals, and a straw hat while smoking a cigarette and wearing my sunglasses.

I really like this picture. Is that vain? I like a few pictures in this series, so there.


Mori was at my house tonight and we were looking at these pictures. When this one came up, he said "Recently, Takenobu has been looking so cool." I said just wait until you see the next one.

Takenobu took a pretty big spill right in front of me, and when I was looking at the photos that night, I realized that I had gotten the picture right at the instant the he clenched every muscle in his body to brace for impact - and as a result he looks incredibly buff here. This is not what he usually looks like. Mori saw this picture and couldn't stop laughing.

I'm going to finish off with my three favorite pictures from the day. I could point out what I like about each one, but I hope you'll be able to see why I like these without my help.

So Wednesday is the next blog, but Wednesday is also the day that the first new teacher arrives. We'll see, maybe a little update.