土曜日, 4月 30, 2011

Super quick!

Okay, a picture is worth 1,000 words and this is almost 200 photos:
I am busy loving life on vacation!
P.S. This all took place in Okinawa Prefecture and the last few pics were in Fukuoka, Japan and Hong Kong on my way to Australia, so MUCH MUCH MORE to come...

月曜日, 4月 25, 2011

Random Australia Update!

**UPDATE: Back home safe in Japan and here are my pics from Adelaide! **

Okay, so I am in Australia now and even though i owe you a big juicy blog about my week in Okinawa, I wanted to paraphrase an email about these last two rdays in Adelaide, Australia...AKA  "RADELAIDE" !!

Yesterday I woke up after one late night of drinking home brewed beers. I'm staying with an amazing artistic and culinary couple involved in roller derby here. I hopped in a large passenger van (driven by the father of one of the roller derby members) and 12 of us drove an hour north to Adelaide's famous wine country, Barossa. The scenery was GORGEOUS and I took lots of photos...until my camera battery died! But I'm sure as I slowly friend them on facebook more photos will pop up. ANYWAY. After grabbing some delicious bacon and eggs for breakfast, we did wine tastings at 3 vineyards, but the guys brought an entire cooler (called an "eskie" in Australia - "chilly bin" in New Zealand, btw) of beers and since we had our designated, dad driver, we all got really drunk by the time it was dark.

For lunch we had an amazing picnic-style lunch at a lake, with food provided by a nearby restaurant run by a famous Australian cook (like Julia Child-style famous). I ate pheasant for the first time ever! It was baked into a flaky pie crust, and it was delish!

At the end of the night we were dropped off at Bonnie's "homestay" and we had an almost equally amazing dinner cooked by Paul, Kit Cat Krunch's fiance. Then we played drunken Rock Band on PS3 (I played drums of course), and then they busted out an ukulele for me to play! By the time I got home I was so sapped, I passed out immediately!

This morning I awoke to the sound of my sister and others arriving. I got dressed and went out to coffee and croissant sandwich (BACON for breakfast: DAY 3!!! <3) - everyone cooks here and eats such amazing food, and today was no exception. In the morning a ref/roller girl couple "Brain and Foxy) drove my sister, another San Diego coach "Ringer", and me to a wildlife park were we got to PET kangaroos, wallaby, wombat, dingo, (okay, technically we shouldn't have tried to pet these last two through the bars, but WE DID! heh heh!), and even held a Koala!!!!

It was so magical!
After another oranic health food shop-supplied picnic, we went strawberry picking! After all this I was exhausted so I passed out for the last three hours after we got home, woke up, took a shower, and just ate a power bar and some left over potato chips for dinner. Good night world! Adelaide RULES!

土曜日, 4月 09, 2011

人事異動 AKA Do the Office Shuffle!

I've been at this "Blog" thing for almost a year now, so I forget if I've posted about this before. Hope you enjoy! BTW - apparently the word "blog" came from "Web log", when a guy moved the "b" over to make "We blog", thus turning blog into a verb. That's one of those things you've probably learned 5 times and forgotten 5 times.

Every new fiscal year in Japan (April-March) most organizations go through jinji-ido or "personnel transfers". For a government organization like mine, this gets even more complicated by elections, which bring about changes in policy that restructure the entire government. So it is not only "who works where" but entire divisions that are collapsed, reorganized, expanded, renamed, and shuffled around. 
The Governor of Hiroshima, Yuzaki, was elected last September. He is a Stanford Graduate and fluent in English!
Halfway through my second year at the Prefectural Government Foreign Affairs Division, they not only changed several of our members, including my supervisor, and group leader, they also added a wall partition making our office physically smaller, to expand the neighboring room where some new chief of staff was moving his office. Everything had to be rearranged to accommodate this, which meant rolling up our shirt sleeves and moving huge desks and lockers full of over a decade-worth of paper files, all by ourselves.

Along with the transfers come office parties. By office parties, I mean everyone in the office goes to a restaurant and pays between 30 and 50 dollars for some version of an all-you-can-eat-and-drink dinner. This gives everyone a chance to get to know each other in a slightly structured, but less formal setting, and they can be really fun!
One such party, a year ago. This photo was taken by our Director, who was promoted to Chief this month.
Quick side note: The restaurant pictured above is a fried-skewer cuisine place called Hanbei. It is post-war era themed, so instead of a pitcher of beer, you get a tea kettle full! Our oldest member, and atomic bomb survivor, Mr. Tabuchi had never been there before, but since everything there reminded him of his early twenties (including the music, which he seemed to know all the words to!), he probably enjoyed it more than anyone!

The funny thing about these restructures is that they are not application based. They don't even decide based on what subjects you excel in! Basically, no one knows what will happen until the final weeks of March, and since many organizations have buildings in different cities (even different islands, and prefectures!), you can suddenly find yourself with less than three weeks to move to, for example, Tokyo! One of my co-workers announced just a couple weeks ago that he was being transferred to MAZDA to work in their PR department as part of a professional cross-training arrangement, so he won't be back working in the government offices for the next two years! We were all quite surprised.

This year, they also decided to reorganize my Foreign Affairs Division into the Regional Strategy Bureau. That alone didn't affect our office, but it meant adding a fourth, related group to our office, and expanding the physical size. To do this, they moved OUT the neighboring chief of staff, and took out last years wall partition. Since they had also knocked out the old wall behind that the previous year, it meant our office became LARGER than when I first arrived! Here are some pics of that:
One year ago:

 And a few more from this year:

The number of people in my office has grown by 7, and luckily for me, two of the new additions were regular members of my weekly English Lunch, so I know them well. My group has two new women, and a former member of another group in the same office last year, and my new group leader last year was promoted to deputy director! Here is a picture from the end of our office party last week, with some new incoming and outgoing members in attendance:

It is unbelievable to me that this happens EVERY YEAR, but another reason for it is to accommodate new hires. The Japanese school year is on the same schedule as the fiscal one, and for many organizations, gaps of even one month in your scholastic and work record can disqualify you from the next higher pay-scale, so Japanese undergraduates spend the majority of their senior (4th) year job hunting, sometimes even starting during their junior (3rd) year! I would not be the first person to hypothesize that this has something to do with why Japanese Universities are considered notoriously easy to graduate from, once enrolled.
It is also noteworthy that while all of this is going on, people are still working on projects, balancing budgets, and undergoing end-of-the-fiscal-year audits. The whole thing is extremely stressful, and I am VERY glad my position is not subject to these transfers.

Did I mention... because I also split my time working at the Hiroshima International Center, I have to go through this twice as much as everyone else! He's a pic of me saying goodbye to our old director, Mr Kawakita, who has been transferred back to the Government offices after three years here. He has also been a good friend to me, and I hope he comes to visit sometime.
He joked that since it was me (a foreigner), we should hug, and when I actually did, everyone laughed, but then decided that since I did it, they would too. It was a nice way for everyone to say goodbye to those leaving.

That's all for now! I have an insanely busy schedule stating tomorrow, so i will be taking about a month off from blogging. Please fill your time by leaving me feedback and questions for me to work on new stuff when I get back! Muah!

水曜日, 4月 06, 2011

Quick Update

So last Sunday, at my Wendy's invitation, I participated in my first EVER official marathon!

weeeell, the 10k (6 mile) division anyway. ^^

But look how good I did! I don't know if I am proud or ashamed that I didn't train, but I am DEFINITELY GLAD I finished in under an hour. I guess the next step is to start running 10k all the time and go for the half-marathon eh?

In other news:
I got SO MUCH DONE yesterday!
Yesterday was my late shift so before work, I got up, got clean, ate breakfast, did laundry, went to the dentist (I had to get my new filling replaced because a piece came out the night before while I was flossing), went to the Immigration Bureau and had my Japanese visa and re-entry permit transferred to my new passport, went shopping, came home, and made lunch and packed a meal for dinner, ALL BEFORE getting to work at 1pm! That's what Charlie Sheen calls WINNING!
Sure buddy.
 Had a great, productive day at work too, and afterward, came home and prepared the questions for tonight's quiz night which I am hosting with my good buddy Warren! (see previous posts for pictures and references to both!)

Bye for now!