Monday, November 12, 2007

Tofu Man has a new friend---Reindeer Man!

Howdy! Yes, it's been FOREVER since I posted anything, and it's been weighing heavily on my mind. Well, sort of, but I have been thinking about it. :-) I finished up a week-long orientation class on the naval base, plus a day-long driving class. I've also been fighting a chest cold thing that doesn't want to go away. Lucky Zach has it now. :-) And my birthday was on Saturday. Since both Zach and I are not feeling our best, we didn't go too crazy with celebrating. We did go to the city of Machida in the afternoon to do some exploring. It probably sounds kind of silly, but we went to TGIFridays for dinner. Japanese food is great, but sometimes it's nice to just have a good old hamburger. (There are a fair number of American chain restaurants here. Outback Steakhouse, Denny's, and most of the fast-food guys are close to where we live.) I did have a Japanese birthday cake that Zach bought at a Japanese bakery called Fujiya. It was quite tasty and came in fancy packaging. I forgot to take a picture, but I swear it was awesome. :-)

The orientation class was informative and I made a few new friends, which is good, since it's been hard meeting people here. We learned a lot about Japanese culture, and spent some time practicing some survival Japanese phrases. On the fourth day we went as a class to the one of the local train stations to learn about the train system. The instructor left us there in groups to continue on our own small field trip and figure out how to get home on our own. My group just took a quick trip to Machida to do some shopping. We all did fine and no one got lost. I had to use the train a lot during the week, and I feel more comfortable using it now.

Unlike the orientation class, the driving class left a lot to be desired, and I am frightened that a little card says that I can now legally drive here. I plan to practice on the base before I ever drive out in town. Some of you might not know that in Japan, they drive like they do in England, on the left side of the road. As a pedestrian, I've had to relearn all that I've always known about which direction cars are coming. I really have to force myself to think about it. I suppose I can figure out the driving thing too, but I want to be super careful about it. Getting in an accident here, even just a little fender-bender, is no joke. And the laws are different from the States. For example, if you are driving along and a guy pulls out into your lane and stops, and you swerve to avoid him but scrape his bumper, you're at fault because the guy was stopped. And pedestrians have all rights. If you hit a pedestrian, you're 100 percent at fault, regardless of what happened. Plus, you have narrow streets to navigate and people on bicycles and scooters with a death wish. I can't tell you how many times I've seen bicylists meander into the street with no thoughts about the oncoming traffic. On the plus side, everyone seems to drive pretty slow here so most accidents are minor if there is one.

By the way, as you can see in my picture at the beginning of the blog, Tofu Man has a new friend---Reindeer Man. The shop where I bought Tofu Man has their Christmas stuff for sale already, and I just couldn't resist. I know that some of you are deeply disturbed by this line of merchandise, but how can you say no to a square reindeer? He is so darn cute!

Okay, I guess that's enough blogging for today. Bye for now!


Anonymous said...

Hi Ellen and Happy Birthday!!!
The classes sound interesting and so does the driving. I wish as a pedestrian I had more rights here in Seattle.

BTW I love Reindeer Man. He's almost as cute as Tofu Man.


Ursula said...

Happy Belated Birthday!!!!
Reindeer Man is ADORABLE!! I don't think he's scary at all.
Good luck with the driving.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ellen,

Wow, I really like the square toys, by the time you leave I'm sure you'll have the entire cast.

Happy birthday!

Tami A.

Anonymous said...

Pedestrians are always innocent in car/pedestrian accidents in the US too, aren't they? Hmm. Somewhere along the way I learned that or thought I did. Not that you're going to want to get hit by a car just because it's not going to be your fault.

ES Me said...

Happy Birthday!!!!!

Tofu I eat, but I am thinking no to reindeer. So I guess this one is safe for now. Tell Zach that Reindeer Man will protect him from Mr. Tofu Man.

Hugs and Kisses!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ellen! Haaapppppy Birthdaaaay, late! I love reading about all the new adventures you're having!

Everytime I drive into Edmonds on a Saturday morning and see the Pancake Breakfast signs (Sons of Norway), I think of you!

Be careful driving . . . I did it all over Britain and came close to wiping out a few cows.

Take care,

Nancy said...

Hi Ellen, Happppy Birthdaaaay, late! I love seeing all the fun new things you've been sharing on the blog!

Edmonds isn't the same without you. When I drive (or walk Toby) into town on Saturday mornings and see the signs for Son's of Norway Pancake Breakfast, I think of you!

Be careful driving. Its pretty weird driving on the wrong side of the car in the wrong lane! I did it all over Britain and almost hit several cows.

Take care!