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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 11th - 14th

Sorry this is out of order a bit, I forgot to include these!



October 11th
Today is a ‘Sports Day’ holiday.  I thought I was going to have a taiko performance, but thankfully it was yesterday.  I went out for a drive and ended up motorcycle searching again.  

Saw some more great bikes, but this language gap is going to be a problem when it comes to business time.  I’m sure it’ll work itself out somehow, but I’ll have to study a bit before walking into the shop again.  That was pretty much all I did today.  Went home, made dinner, and watched a movie before bed.

October 12th
At school, the teachers kept coming up to tell me how great I did at taiko.  I had one of my teachers write me a note to tell me how much it ‘moved’ him.  He wrote it in three different sentences to make sure it came across the way he wanted.  

One of my teachers asked me to bring in examples of American food sizes vs Japan food sizes.  After thinking about it a bit, I started to realize that a lot of the meals I would eat at home were comparable, if not smaller, in size to the meals I normally eat in Japan.  Especially when I cook for myself, the meals are typically smaller.  In Japan, a ‘typical meal’ consists of a plate of rice, bowl of soup (tofu, vegetables, sometimes meat), a pickled vegetable/fruit dish, a mixed dish of meat and vegetables, one serving of milk, and sometimes a desert cup.   I have a tough time finishing many of the school lunches because there is so much food.   It’s the content of the food that varies the most.  If you study someone who eats out in America, the size and content will probably be much different.  The portions of red meat and grams of fat are most likely going to be much higher in the US, where the portions of fish and vegetable will be greater in Japan.  I am worried, though, about the sodium intake here.  There are many salty broths/soups, there are pickled vegetables, and a lot of the meats they serve are distinctly salted.  When I make food in the states, I refuse to add salt to my meals, but instead substitute pepper.   Of course this is different from other Americans, but from my standpoint I’m a bit worried about what I’m feeding my body out here.  Perhaps it’s the TV shows of eating challenges, cheap fast food, and Big Gulps that Japan associates with American food.  

I have strayed from my initial train of thought.  After being given this assignment, I actually had a difficult time finding size comparisons between the US and Japan.  However, there was plenty of information comparing nutrition.  The only thing I could think to do was exploit the fast food aspect of American culture and show a few clips from ‘Super Size Me.’  But, my region 1 DVD didn’t work, so she just asked me questions about what I eat at home.  I had previously told her I don’t eat fast food, besides the occasional In-n-Out burger and burrito.  So when she asked the students to raise their hands if I eat fast food multiple times in a week, they were surprised to see that it wasn’t the case.  It’s nice to be able to say that I have a family that likes to cook instead of eat out all the time.  When I listed the foods I like to eat and cook, I think that it not only impressed the students, but gave then a completely different idea of the cultural influences throughout the US.  They’re so used to associating hamburgers and hotdogs with us, that they haven’t imagined the amount of Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Ethiopian, and countless other cultural shops we have at our disposal.  I think I could dedicate an entire month to teaching about the different foods someone can eat in Southern California.  That is an incredible realization for me.

Anyway, I hope you're ready for another Takumi story.  You remember, the boy who likes to ask me fairly inappropriate questions?  Somehow I got placed to sit at his table during lunch.  Immediately, he looks at me and says, 'Do you think about me?'  Where is he coming up with this stuff!?  Then, I find the culprit.  It's a tissue box.


Takumi and his partner in crime on the right
One of the girls in the class has cleverly decorated many tissue boxes and hopefully that's the only source of Takumi's crazy questions.  The kids get all silly when they see me take a picture and want their's taken too...here they are.
By far one of my favorite student photos
The gigglers



October 13th
Hey ma! It’s your birthday in Japan!  I had two schools today.  My first began with crazy elementary students screaming, ‘Niko Niko Sensei!!!’ before I got out of my car.  They rushed out of the school to jump on me, hold my hands, and run in circles around me.  It’s going to be one of THOSE energetic days, huh?  All turned out well and I got to hear the kids singing in the hallways again.  The second school was the same, filled with screaming kids.  It wasn’t bad, but they’re figuring out how to wear me out even faster. 

October 14th
Happy real birthday momma-san!  Not too bad at the schools today.  Played soccer with some of the boys at lunch and nearly took a kid’s head off on a shot.  Now they won’t stand in front of me when I shoot.  Got to Skype mom after they had dinner.  Sounds like they had some good food that I’m very much missing.  Went for a run after classes were over and my leg acted up again.
At 7, Shinmiya picked me up for the party with the Rotary Club guys.  I had made him a CD earlier this week and he had it playing in the car.  How do I describe my emotion being driven to a party by a Japanese guy, in Japan, we can’t communicate, and Dick Dale’s ‘Night Rider’ starts to play.  That was so cool.  The party was actually more fun than I was imagining.  

They had a 5-course meal accompanied by beer and shochu.  I did a great job of limiting the alcohol intake, but others were definitely getting their red-glow on.  The guys in the club are great.  There’s a restaurant owner, veterinarian who named his girls Cheetah and Lion, and a really cool music guy who wouldn’t stop throwing band names at me to see if I knew their music.  I made some friends.
After the party, Shinmiya took me home and invited me to play badminton with his family the next night.  Sure, why not!?
Yes, I get hours of sleep tonight!

Oct 15th - 20th

October 15th
Forgot to turn the volume up on my alarm and kinda woke up late.  Made it to school right as class was starting though, so it was okay.  After walking into the school, teachers gave me nuts from the ginko tree outside.  Then after 5 minutes, they realize I’m supposed to be helping in a class and rush me upstairs.  Even the principal was sitting there eating gingko seeds with me, not knowing what was happening.  I started teaching the kids about Halloween, including bobbing for apples, and it brought me back to 3rd grade in Mr. Garcia’s class.  It also helped me remember ‘Dirt’ made from Oreo cookies that had gummy worms and whipped cream.  Those were some good days.  Only had 2 classes to teach.  The rest of the day, the kids were busy getting ready for their school festival.  From what I can tell, they’ll be playing music (keyboard, drums, xylophone), singing, and for some reason they’re dressing in wedding outfits made of plastic.  
Yes, that's a boy on the left.

What?!  Other kids have pointed gnome hats on their hands and heads.  I can’t figure out what’s happening here.
video

At night, I meet up with Shinmiya, his kids, and a few adults who regularly play badminton at, what I’m going to call, our recreation center.  Before starting play, Shinmiya had me introduce myself to everyone again.  I think there are people here who have met me 6 times, but still come up to say ‘Nice to meet you.’  Two of the girls, who are badminton players for a national team, came up to me giggling but then surprised the heck out of me.  They each gave introductions in perfect English, including what they like and don’t like to eat, what city they live in, how old they are, their date of birth, and then saying ‘Nice to meet you.’  I was blown away and probably scared them with how many times I complemented their English. 
The games started and everyone was trying to show me how to hold the racket and serve the shuttlecock.  You should have seen the looks on their faces when a little girl and I nearly beat two adult men.  No really, they were freaking out impressed at how well I we were playing.  In fact, they went so crazy that they had me play games against every person Shinmiya knew.  I think I played 9 games of badminton.  I haven’t sweat that much in a while.  Good news though, my leg didn’t cramp up. 
The girls who introduced themselves, bought me a drink and walked away giggling.  Shinmiya couldn’t stop giving me compliments.  They wouldn’t let me rest for 5 minutes and I was already drained.  We finally left for home around 10 (we got there at 7) and I went straight to bed. 

October 16th
I thankfully woke up this morning and made it over to Hamanoue’s house.  He invited me to come fishing with him and I couldn’t pass it up.  His buddy arrived a little late, but we made it to their fishing spot about an hour down the coast.  Stopped at a little Ma and Pop store to buy shrimp and some crazy ground up fish.  Mind you, it’s legal to chum out here.  We also bought some bentos for lunch.  Getting to the fishing spot turned out to be quite the adventure.  We parked out cars about a mile away from the rocks we’d later be fishing on.  Unfortunately, the rocks were over a mile trek through thick, steep, overgrown tree forest, vines, and bamboo.  There were spiders everywhere but we just walked straight through all the brush.  Hamanoue probably should have told me not to wear shorts today.  Upon exiting the forest of 1 billion spiders, we found ourselves on the edge of a cliff.  It’s okay, we’ll walk across.  The lip of this cliff is only about 2 feet wide, 60 feet from the ground, and covered in wet grass/vine.  I watched as these two 60+ year old guys with heavy backpacks walk across the cliff.  I guess all three of us really like fishing, because we were across the 50 foot section in no time, and crawling down boulders to get to the water’s edge. 
Mixed up the chum for the guys and we cast our lines into the water.  We caught some beautiful bass-looking fish.  They were dark, dark gray and about a pound or two each.  I later saw this same type of fish at the market on sale for 1,000 yen each.  We caught about 9 of these, a few needle fish, and I caught some red snapper-looking fish that Hamanoue said would taste very good. 
All was a great day besides the fact that they burned all their trash (plastics included) on the shoreline.  I was actually gathering all the bento boxes and plastic wrap to carry back and they said we were going to light it on fire.  With all their recycling I still don’t understand why so much is burned out here. 
Got back to the cars and headed home.  Hamanoue invited me to join him the next day for a motorcycle ride so I had to accept.  Home was relaxing and I fell asleep early.

October 17th
Hamanoue told me to join him for lunch so I met at his place around 12.  His wife cooked the fish from the day before and it was some of the best I’ve ever had.  They removed the innards but everything else was BBQ’d.  I still don’t like it when the fish’s eyes are looking at me, but this fish was so good, I just stared at my plate of salad instead.  We left for a festival in a town about 35 minutes away and parked our bikes.  We walked around for about an hour, seeing some other ALTs and one of Muro’s motorcycle buddies, and then stopped to stand at a roped of section of road.  It turns out this area is for an archer to display his horse riding and shooting skills. 

We watch him take a few passes and each time he hits a target, the crowd goes nuts.  The archer’s outfit was extravagant to say the least, and was visibly distracting him when he tried to reload his bow.
Can you tell I was more interested in the horse?
 
Hamanoue and I left the festival and rode around the mountains for an hour or so.  He took me to a huge waterfall area, a landslide, and then back home through some fields.  For this guy’s age, it’s still hard for me to understand how he’s so good on the rough trails. 

Getting to his house, Hamanoue’s wife already has dinner about ready to eat.  Again, it’s the fish we caught yesterday.  There’s only so much fish I want to eat each week, let alone each day.   It’s delicious, of course, but I'm done with fish for a while.  I excuse myself and get home for a relaxing day off tomorrow. 

October 18th
Woke up late.  Drove around looking for motorcycles, again.  I bought a couple packs of mango Mentos and devoured them in less than 10 minutes.  Queue stomach ache in 3, 2, 1…  Not a very productive day, but I manage to see some new places around Kagoshima.  Had taiko practice and learned a new song.  They also told me we won’t have taiko for the next two weeks, so that’s sort of a relief.

October 19th
My teacher decides that since I have stickers, we’re going to play Bingo all day and she’s going to delegate how many stickers I give each kid.  After giving about 30 stickers away to one class of 10 students, I have to politely tell her that I can’t give anymore out because they’re for other schools too.  For some reason, I’m not particularly in the best mood today (not the sticker thing, just something not clicking).  I think I have taken as much of Japan as I can at the moment.  Welcome to ‘Stage 2,’ as JET calls it, when you just start to dislike nearly everything in Japan.  My notes from my little journal have, “I want a bike so I can ride and get away!” written in it.  I think it’s time to get serious about buying a motorcycle out here.  Already planning on taking a ferry to Amami and Okinawa to ride around the islands.

October 20th
Today started the wrong way.  A teacher, 20 minutes before class when I’m trying to organize everything for first period, starts to talk to me in broken English.  Taking 5 minutes to look up a word and then not even explaining what he just looked up.  I was literally about to flip out, but my JTE saved me and sent kids to bring me to class.  I gave another 5,000 pieces of candy to classes today but had one kid freak out because his piece wasn’t as big as his friend’s piece.  A teacher came into my class, mid-lesson, and pulled me out to have me see where this kid was throwing a temper tantrum.  Then asked me to come back after class so we could fix the problem.  Japan, I just have to warn you, this is getting really annoying.  After class, I go to find the kid and he’s got a big smile on his face, skipping down the hallway.  I’m so glad they made such a big deal out of this kid, he might not have skipped that extra inch higher.  
My second school was fine.  One of my ‘funny’ kids kept whispering, “I love you,” while my JTE was teaching.  I’m going to burst laughing one day.  He’s too funny, but always learning the new material before the rest of the class.  The tea lady gave me a jar of strawberry preserves and a can of black pork meat that her daughter helped make at her high school.   Then before I left the school, a teacher asks me to tell her about my Halloween plan for next week.  I start to tell her, but she stops me and says to wait because she has a class.  I wait for 45 mins, but she doesn't come back in the office for over an hour.  Once she gets back, I approach her about the lesson plan and she blows me off for another 10 minutes, giving money to someone and giggling with someone outside.  I decide to pack up and just leave when she comes over, looks at the two lessons I told her about before her last class, and says that should be fine.  I get 10 words out of her after an hour and a half of waiting.
After work, I tried to run and cramped up again.  STAGE 2!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Oct. 9th - 10th

October 9th
I decided to go on a long drive today.  On my way to the airport when I left for Amami, I noticed a Red Baron motorcycle shop along the way.  
Driving through the forests

I took the same route and ended up finding multiple shops.  Took tons of pictures and I think I’m leaning toward the way of a cafĂ© bike.  For the longest time I’ve wanted to go the route of a greaser and what better time to start than in Japan?  I found some GB250s, newer Suzuki 250s, and even ran into a Harley shop.  I talked with a couple English speaking workers and showed them pictures of John and I on the old Harleys.  They loved it and kept asking which bike I liked.  Unfortunately, I had to tell them I don’t have a budget that includes new bikes, let alone Harleys.  They were great though, offering me drinks, and talking my head off.  They also knew my buddy Nathan, being the place he bought his Harley.
I made a run on the 10 and headed for Kagoshima City.  Checked out some great shops, including Cobra, which has some awesome custom bikes.  They’re just a bit expensive.  Enjoyed my drive around the city, but decided to head home.  Driving through the mountains, I noticed a huge statue of a samurai.  I pulled over and took some pics.  
The lady on the left is about 200 feet away from the statue.  It looks miniature in this pic.

This thing is huge and it seems to be an attraction for the locals as well.  I have to note that there were some great looking ice-block hills that need to be tested.  Any takers?
Ice block hills!

Now I have motorcycles on the brain and it doesn’t look like it’s going to go away anytime soon.  The next paycheck can’t get here soon enough!
After getting home, my neighbor knocks on my door and brings me an extra plate of food his wife cooked.  This is just too nice.  I love these guys but we can barely converse with one another.  The food was sooooooo delicious, I hope one day I'll be able to express to them how much it means to me.
Delicious dinner from my neighbors!


October 10th
It’s Sunday, you know what that means!!!  Another sports festival.  This is my…lets see…5th Sunday I’ve had to reserve for a sports festival?  Today, thankfully, I get to shoot a gun around the kids.  I also find out that we’re playing taiko today instead of tomorrow. 
Our team got to wear white headbands

The gun shooting goes well.  I just have to yell, “Ichi ni suite!  Yoi!”  I’m even mic’d, so the whole park can hear me.  
Gaijin with a gun

At lunch, our taiko group sets up and plays our set.  They even brought me an outfit to wear, so we all match.  It was great and we were all complimented on the great job afterward.  Then, more races, the cops even run laps, people in anime costumes, men dressed as women, and I think they’re just trying to confuse me now.  The cops even ‘arrest’ one of the runners at the end of the race with the crowd applauding.  I can’t figure out what the hell is happening, but I keep my smile and just nod along.
Anime characters and an actual policeman running the race

I have no clue what's going on
Local police arresting a ninja

After the event is done, my fellow BOE guys invite me to help tear down chairs and tables.  SWEET!  I couldn’t have thought of a better way to finish my Sunday evening.  Can you tell I’m a little tired of this.  I even have someone come up to me and say, “This is my 2nd sports festival.  It’s a lot of work.”  They do know that I have 9 schools, right?  While tearing down the tables, one of my super important boss guys comes over to introduce his daughter.  The guys from the BOE smile and throw their elbows into my side.  Another awkward situation.  She likes running though, so hopefully we can train together for the marathon in a couple months. 
video
Here's a video of Osaki women doing their fold dance.
After getting home, I decided to try my luck spearfishing again.  Didn't catch anything, but I scared a Japanese couple when I came out of the water.  I think they may have been making out on the seawall and didn't see my snorkel.  Nick: +2
Sunset in Shibushi

Went home and fell asleep before 11pm…yes!

Oct. 4th - 8th

October 4th
Another typical day.  Introduced myself to a couple new classes and had kids give great responses.  “My name is Toji.  I like banana.  I like AKB48,” immediately followed by an eruption of laughter from the class.  AKB48 is a group of 48 Japanese singers.  The girls are split into 3 teams and they have to perform once a day for live audiences.  ALL the boys in my schools have trading cards, folders, and pictures of these girls.  They all claim that they are the boyfriends of AKB48.  Anywho, this proclamation of “I like AKB48” happened in all three of my new classes.  I’m, for a lack of other words, over it. 
This is AKB48

I don’t know how many times I’ve mentioned it, but the way students behave in school differs a lot from schools in the states.  The kids are very disciplined, but the teachers allow for disruptive behavior in the class without a peep to try and stop them from talking, throwing things, getting out of their seats, etc.  I can’t figure it out.  I had one student who wouldn’t stop talking during the class, so I decided to see what would happen if I called him out to answer some questions.  I think I caught my JTE off guard, but it worked and he was silent the rest of the period.  Maybe it was the other kids laughing at the situation, or the fact that he didn’t want to answer so many questions, but I’m going to start doing this more often. 
Two other things caught my attention today.  1. I’ve noticed the kids never ask to use the restroom and they get excited about things like a breeze.  I’ve been here nearly 3 months and I’ve never even seen a student ask to leave the room.  2.  Without warning, a breeze blew through the class and the students flipped their lids.  They were looking out the window as if they were going to see something, but of course there was nothing.  I still can’t figure out the kids.  Ate lunch at the teacher’s desk and kept asking him questions in Japanese, but we was reluctant to start any form of conversation.  The kids sat there and giggled when he would give me 2 word responses.  Played volleyball at lunch.
After school I went home, went to taiko practice, and that was it.

October 5th
Today at school, a kid comes up to me and starts singing, “I like you, I want you, I love you.”  Any ideas on how I should be responding?  I haven’t got a clue.  My JTE and I are walk-sprinting to class and are surprised when there aren’t any students.  We go back and forth from the office to the classroom 3 times, alert the principal, everyone is running around looking for the kids, and my teacher finally realizes that she changed the schedule last week.  Today I was paid to teach one class and run around looking for a non-existent class. 

October 6th-8th
Can’t really remember what happened these days.  This is what I get for slacking on the journal.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sorry for the delay!

Just a lot of random stuff lately that has kept me from writing in this blog.  Sorry for taking so long to post this.  I will, though, try and get some of the pictures up as soon as I can.
September 27th
At Hishida with my favorite kid, Takumi.  The one who likes boys and always puts his arm around me.  All was funny again, and then he let took it to the next level.  ‘Nick-sensei,’ ‘Yes?’  ‘I like your meat.’ 
Hmm…I look around to see if I have trailed in any chicken, pork, or maybe a hamburger from the other night.  Dang…nope…no animal meat attached to me at the moment.  ‘Haha, you’re so funny!’ as I scurry away not wanting to look back.  Oh man, I just don’t know what these kids are going to throw at me anymore.
After lunch, I went and practiced volleyball with the girls’ team, but was stolen away by a group of kids that wanted me to teach them breakdancing.  They absolutely CAN NOT do the worm.  I tried for 10 minutes until I gave up.  So we tried headspins instead, which a few of them picked up right away.  What?  Headspins, but no worm?!  You have confused me again you little rascals. 
The rest of the day went without interruption.  At night, I went to taiko practice and was asked a huge question.  To play at a festival on one of my days off.  Of course!!!  So stoked, I think I have officially become a member of their group called, ‘Happy.’  One letter of ‘Happy’ is for each of the 5 members.  I think, though, that we’ll have one or two others playing with our group on the day of the festival.  I can’t wait, but one of our songs (cadence?) is extremely difficult.  This may take a lot more effort than I can suffice.

September 28th
My first half-day was cancelled, so I spent it at the BOE.  A gentleman from another department came in and asked me to be a starter (guy who shoots the gun) for the Osaki Town Sports Day.  Again, “Of course I will.”  But darn it, it’s on the same weekend as my taiko performance.  So my supposed 3-day super awesome weekend has now been cut to 1 day.  It’s okay though, I get to shoot a ‘gun’ around little kids and make them run.  Nick: +1  
Made some flashcards and then left to eat lunch at home.  After lunch, I headed to another school for the final 3 hours of the day.  I show up and they have, like many others, a blank look on their face.  Two teachers scurry around and make phone calls to my BOE.  It turns out my supervisor forgot to tell me that the second school also didn’t need me today, since they are practicing for their sports day.  Great.  As I leave the school to head back to the BOE, a few students stop me to ‘talk.’  One keeps calling me ‘Macaroni-sensei’ while the others giggle and say ‘Hello’ for the 30th time.  I’d much rather do this than sit at my desk in the BOE.  So I do…I stay for an extra 45 minutes and just laugh with the kids.

After work, I head out for a run and find a really cool road.  It has some good little inclines and I was probably out for 45 minutes.  Finally, I’m running again! 

September 29th
Happy Birthday Kalika!  But, it’s still only the 28th where you are.  Teaching was uneventful, but I made plans to get an iPhone with Mary Margaret today!  But, just as I’m about to leave for Shibushi, I get a call from my BOE telling me to drive to Osaki Elementary.  We have a 30 minute ‘meeting’ about the lesson plans two weeks in advance.  The only problem with this is that barely anyone speaks English.  Had either of us known the other’s language, the meeting would have taken 3 minutes.  Okay, I get it, I should be studying Japanese a little harder.
Mary Margaret and I spend a good deal of time at the Softbank store with the AWESOME Softbank ladies.  They tell me my iPhone will be here in 2-3 weeks and we leave to celebrate a great Softbank visit with Sushi Tora.  It’s my first time to this place that Kyle and Mary Margaret rave about.  Now I know why they rave about it!  It’s another one of those sushi places where the food goes around on a conveyor belt and each dish is priced based on what color plate it’s on.  Probably on my top 5 places to eat in Japan.

September 30th
Happy REAL Birthday Kalika!  I had one class this morning, left to ‘go to the BOE’ and Skyped Kalika.  Had so much fun talking to them and watching them eat the weird Japanese treats I sent home.  Left for my afternoon school, one class during the last period.  Got an e-mail from Mary Margaret that my iPhone had arrived.  What happened to 2-3 weeks? 
We went through all the paperwork: cancelling my AU phone, paying my right arm to Softbank, and then I finally had my new phone.  Thank you Mary Margaret!!!  I really couldn’t have done this without you.  Unfortunately, I had stomach problems all day and promptly left for home. 
Now, the real dilemma.  Do I sit on the toilet with nothing to do, or risk my new iPhone over a ceramic bowl of water?  I did nothing…I’m positive I made the right choice. 

October 1st
All day I got to play Simon Says.  Teachers, 5 minutes before class, ask me, ‘Do you have any games we can play today?’  Well, I could probably come up with something much better if you give me an hour, a day, a few days to think of and prepare something. 
Was going to head out to a singles night, but my stomach got the best of me again.  Ended up chatting with Kyle and Mary Margaret and the okinomiyaki place in Shibushi.  We then proceeded to find a centipede, play a ‘I’m going camping’ game, and then Kyle got the BRILLIANT idea to smash Mary Margaret’s face open.  Really, the spots of blood looked great on the tatami, we shouldn’t have washed those out.  Haha!   All was okay (and an accident), but Mary Margaret’s poor eye didn’t want to be seen in public the next couple days. 
The centipede and bowl that Kyle threw out the window

- Note: As I just wrote this entry (literally, 1 second after I finished writing about the centipede) a centipede walked across my tatami floor.  I jumped out of my chair and got the chills immediately.  I'll post a pic of it ASAP.
Chills...


October 2nd
Tonight, I had a Skype party with my friends from California.  I never knew this could be so much fun.  They stayed up until about 5am, California time.  We read ‘poetry,’ gave toasts, and they made Mike Piazza eat tater tots.  I’ll just leave it at that.

Thanks for keeping me sane guys, you have no idea how much I needed that.

October 3rd
Another sports festival today.  Fairly boring, but we got to leave before lunch since it started raining.  I got home and decided to go for a run.  About 15 minutes in, my left leg cramped harder than I’ve ever felt.  So I hobbled home and hung out at the house.  Skyped Kalika and family at her surprise party.  It was great to talk to a bunch of people and see some on the computer.  After that, I went to bed. 
It seems my days are becoming more boring…I need to spice this up somehow. ;)