Fedex Sucks!

30 03 2007

Ok, this is just my Opinion,  it is also my blog! So I can rant from time to time. I realize this is the good ole US of A and I have come to learn not to expect great service as in Japan. However some politness and cooperation would be nice.

I had a package being sent via Fedex ground home delivery. Maybe it is just me, but one would expect most people NOT to be home during the day, mostly…

Weds, I’m out job hunting /TCB, a package comes at 2:30pm so the email says. I call customer service, I ask if the package can be delivered after 4:00. The guys say, ok I’ll put in the request for as late as possible drop off. I ask can it be left at one of the locations VERY close ( 1 is 1 block away, the other 10 mins.) to me. No he says it is not a express but a ground so, no. But I will message the office for a late drop off. Ok, cool I think at least that is something.

Next day I get back from an interview just after 4:oopm another email (no note at the door just an email) no one home can not make drop off. This was sent at 12:30pm. Now this is even earlier than the day before !!! ???? Huh!! is that a late drop off!!!???

Ok, I’m cool, I think; tomorrow ( today) I’ll make a point of being back early. I cut my sail short and make it home about 1:30 pm. I see a Fedex truck , down the street before my house. I quickly park in the lot and walk back to the street to meet the guy. The Truck is GONE!!! grrrrrrrr

I call the customer service after I check my email which says they came by @ 10:30 am!!

Are they nice, NO!

Are they Sorry, NO!

Are they Helpful . NO!

They say, it is at the station, I can pickup up from the station ( 1/2 hour drive, plus bridge toll $4.00) or they will send it back!

Fedex Sucks!

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Berkeley Kyudo revisited

27 03 2007

MakawaraI went to Kyudo class tonight. Even though we are going to need to tighten our belts big time I figured I should get at least one class in. I purchased a bunch of equipment whilst in Japan for the practice. It is unknown when I’ll be able to go again. I will go again at some point but the thing is regular is at question. Anyway I figured to get one class in before I cut it. Tonight seemed prefect. I wanted to give them photos from the seminar, also since my Kung Fu class had missed so many classes this month with my travelling, we would start fresh for April.

It was good to see the few that were there, they were surprised to see me and did remember me. That was nice. The class was small not a lot of folks were there. Which was nice really. The Zazen was calming with the group. Then we did a group shoot. My first time, I just followed and did what they did. It went well. After that we just practiced. I got a lot of shoot time in. I was given a few corrections and advice, it was good. There was at least one or two times I got that “feeling” ahh this is what it is about. Not that I hit the traget center, but the focus, the build up of tension, then the release of the arrow and the moment of bliss, calm and relaxing afterward, almost sex-like. I also got injuried. The bow string caught the side of my face one time when I was not turned enough and the string slaped me in the eye. I could feel a knot later and it swelt up. I can still feel the knot there. oh well, I’ve gotten worse from working wiht my Kung Fu weapons.

The evening was short, I got to use my glove and wear the vintage Hakama, which I was worried it was too short, but was just right and got some correction and practice. Most of all I got to not think about being jobless and the rocky road ahead. So it was worth the cost of one class for the peace and distraction from the storm clouds.

There is a big seminar in May, I really want to attend, however, the cost at this time is prohibitive . However who knows what the tide will bring by then. The tides of life go out, they come back in…





Storm Clouds

22 03 2007

storm

Storm Clouds and the winds of change. The tai chi symbol says life is change. Nothing that is good stays good, nothing that is bad stays bad. When something is positive sooner or later it has to turn negative. Fullness turns to emtpyness.

I was right about my job … it is no more.

What will the winds of change bring…





Japan – Misc thoughts n doings

20 03 2007

tree 2

Japan misc thoughts and doings

Only In Japan, would there be a show on the different types of hamburgers and Hamburger places. With big discussion on the deliciousness on each and the style.
This is a full show on comparing them. Food and eating is BIG deal in Japan. There is a lot of great food here. Much of it not what is served in American restaurants

Public transportation seems expensive. However if you work for a company, they pay for your daily commute, VERY unlike American companies. I will need to figure out something about getting around. I would love to have a Harley here to get around, even though it gets COLD! We did find one train line that has cheap fares to and from where we mostly go

station

I went out the other evening to met a guy from Black Tokyo.com and have a small interview with him. Lady Z was not up to going, she was pretty burnt out from the day and wanted to rest. She thought it would be good for me to travel on the public transportation alone to try it out. It went off fairly well , I only asked for direction once when changing trains to get home. The interview went well, the young brother brought his girlfriend along , had I known that I would have made Lady Z come. Kamen, from NY, lives in Osaka for some 7 yrs now, teaches English and Spanish and has an advance degree from a University in the states. He is also much into the Martial Arts perhaps he’ll be a future student once I move over. Funny guy and interesting views.

The trains are great in Japan! Everything runs on time and are clean!

I got fussed at by Lady Zen for opening a taxi door. She says one does not do that in Japan. The driver opens the door from inside for the riders, it is bad form to open the door. Who knew??!

You find American music in the most unusually places that do not really match the place. American Jazz played at several places I would have thought would do some traditional Japanese tunes.

street 1

Went out fro a walk to the local shopping center toady to meet up with Lady Z. I got to see some of the local area vai foot. Clean streets, clean homes. Nice area. I could live around here if it was closer to the water.

street II

This was our best trip to Japan. I felt honored to met and be advised by not just one master, which is a big deal to happen once, but by three in one week is amazing! The only downer this trip was the COLD.

street III

Well, the other is, we did not get all of our cash converted at the airport, thinking we could do it at the local bank here, WRONG! They not do it on a walk-in basis any more. Most places do not take plastic so our cash flow is a problem.

I feel more comfortable in Japan each visit. There are things would miss about the states, but I can adjust. The weather in Cal would be a BIG one. One thing for sure, I really need to bone up on the language before coming over, that will be more than helpful.

dnner

We went out to Dinner with sister and mother tonight. We went to a local place. We had a bunch of small dishes of great food, sake, and some mixed Shochu cocktails.
I have discovered Chu-hi. A drink with Shochu and juice, Mmmm yummy I got some to take home to the states.

I found if I go in the kitchen I can access wifi, sweet!

The area of Osaka we are in has a really nice park(s) and lots of trees around. I would love to see the area in Autumn, the plan 2009 next visit! That will be the last before the move.

park

Everyone is out doing stuff today but me. I felt like staying in and updating the blog and doing some reading. They will bring me home Sushi tonight. It is kind of nice for my male ego to have three women concerned about my well being here, serving me, I feel like “the Man” heheh
————–
We are to go out shopping and stuff with sister and okasan. We had lunch together. There were a few ladies at the table while we were ordering. They got a kick out of all the things that were named as Dame (no good) for me, Shrimp, mushrooms, clams, other slimy stuff..

lunch II

We stopped by the Kyudo supply and pickup a few things for me to take home to the states. As we spoke with the owner we found out the place I went to for Kyudo is famous because of that Sensei. However they are not really open to people just coming in, or is it easy to just walk in and join. Many have complained about that being somewhat closed door. I was lucky to get such a good reception and private lessons for almost free. It was more of an honor than I thought to be treated so well. I will need to send him a gift from the states as a way of thanks.

I wish I had more time, money and transportation, there are still some things and places I would like to go. Like to the Kobe Marina and visit Bill and his new boat. also another American is in town with his wife for her father’s 100 day memorial, we are here for Lady Z’s father 1 yr. memorial. interesting. I did get to speak with the other visiting Californian. He and his wife are planning on moving to Osaka this year just after Oct. He put his boat up for sale. I will make some plans to visit him and his wife before they leave, He sound like a nice guy, I’m sure Lady z and his wife will have lots to talk about as out lives share a similar path.
———————-
Winding down.

Today is our last day, we went to Otosan’s 1yr. memorial ceremony today…
It snowed in the morning. As we had to get up and started early I did not plan to go Tai Chi, which was just as well since I do not think they had it in the snow.

fountain II

We set off early for the ceremony for Dad. We went to the shrine in a part of town I had not been too. The shrine was fairly old and small. The ceiling in the alter room was done by a famous Japanese artist I was told. It was a beautiful array of Phoenixes. The ceremony took an hour. It was not an outstanding ceremony. When I was listening, even though I did not know what was being read/chanted it sounded like the monk was messing up. I find out later that he was, some of the relatives complained about what a poor job he did just reading. We say/kneed through out the hour long ceremony. I was thinking my legs would be good with all the Zazen that I have been doing. However after about 45 min, they starting getting painful. I stuck it out telling myself, Ganbattemas!!

Afterward we went to a hotel for a old style traditional Japanese Kaiseki meal in a very modern hotel. it was all light tasting, but good, along with Sake and beer everyone was in good spirits. The elders who had not seen each other in a while were happily visiting and chatting. It was a good, day although the shadow of it ending soon, loomed over Lady Z and I. Neither of us were ready for this way too short trip to end.

family

So I believe I could live in Japan, it would take some adjusting of course but I think I’d be ok. I would miss the weather in Cal, the very few friends I have and my Sci Fi shows May I can get some type of internet TV hookup That will give me some feeds. I know it is always nice everywhere one visits and living there is different but I think I’d be ok. I have a pretty good feel for things this time, and we’ll hopefully get another visit in before the move. I am not going in blind and have a few plans so we’ll see.

My biggest concern of course is working , money, it is always money! I will need to focus on bringing my Japanese skills up Then I should be able to get a decent PT gig teaching English which will be our base support. IF Lady Z can get some P/T gig as well we’ll be ok.

We decided on live in an Area between Kobe and Osaka. Easy to get to both places from there.

We met up with a few ladies at the Airport. One of which I had been in touch with on MySpace.com. Since she lived in Osaka I figured i’d contact her. She was looking forward to meeting us and brought along 2 of her friends. They where nice we chatted for a while about their travels, and life in Japan vs the States, over lunch and coffee. Then it was time to head out.

airport

This was a VERY good trip, we Hated to leave, even through COLD, now it is time for back to the real world.

Culture shock!

Service in the states sucks!
We were given the wrong item at the duty free shop in SF. When we went to return in the manager offered nothing in the way of an applogie, even though it was clearly their error not even, sorry for your trouble.
Then when we get to the taxi stand at the Bart station we are pushing and pulling our 4 pieces of luggage and the cab driver just sit there even after we come up to the cab. He just yells out the window, where do you want to go? WTF!! In Japan they are out of the car, doors open, trunk open, asking how they can help. I was pissed, and took another cab. GRRRR Only a short time in Japan an I am already spoiled by good service. I will not even go into the time I came back and the Homeland Security Guards are yelling at people to move along faster, great impression to see when coming to America.

It will most likely be quiet around here for a while. Nothing really planned other than a second visit to the HeartChan (zen) pratice group and a Kyudo class visit in Berkeley next week. I do not except it to be eventful enough to write about.

Time to shift focus to sailing now. I have a couple of traning classes upcoming next month and should be hearing something about teaching for the city of Oakland. There is also a sail boat race in Berekely. I was invited to crew on one one the boats, but that will not work out due to some scheduling conflicts, however I will be there for some pictures on Sunday. So the sailing blog will be seeing some action now.

Next big thing I know of for here is a Kyudo Seminar at Sonoma Mtn Zen center in May. It lasts over several days. It should be interesting. So check in for updates…you never know what the tide will bring in…





Da Bomb Baths

18 03 2007

bathThe Japanese have not gotten the hang of Central Heating in all homes.

However they have the bath Down. Japanese baths are the Bomb!

You can set the temp, it will fill the tub and let you know verbally when it is ready. Then when you fall asleep like I did tonight sitting there , it will keep the water hot by adding more to maintain the temp, sweet! Also even in some places where the tub is short, it is still deep, you can sit in it a cover up with water up to you neck, although if you are tall you have to cross your legs, but still, that is a small thing to pay for a nice hot soak!

he shower can be used sitting or standing. Once the values are set as you wanthem. you can just leave it set that way, so on eyou next shower you can just turn on the water value and the mix and temp are already set.

The bath/shower is a seperate small room, The shower is taken outside of the bath tub, then you get in the tub to soak.

The toliet is in its own seperate room. How cilvalized is that ! Nice!

I just had a nap inthe tub for about a hour and the water was still warm and toasty when I got out. This is our last night here so I pampered myself. Acually the wife and mother-in-law pampered me. They prepared the bath. Awww yeah.





Winding down…

18 03 2007

Bamboo sky
Today is our last day, we went to Otosan’s 1yr. memorial ceremony today…
It snowed in the morning. As we had to get up and started early I did not plan to go Tai Chi, which was just as well since I do not think they had it in the snow.

Yesterday and last night we went out to Kobe and hooked up with a couple of new friends. I met with the instructor of Kobe Kung Fu, Sifu J. He has been teaching in Kobe for some 6 yrs or so. We met after his Sat class, and chatted about kung fu, life, etc. He offered to be whatever help he could on me getting set up In Japan. We spoke of doing seminars to support each other. It was a good meeting, he has a good heart seems like. A quiet guy like myself. Afterward he made sure I got on the correct bus to visit Mi-chan’s, who he also knows, and lives very close to. He waited for me at the bus stop, having got there first on his bike, to direct me to the correct condo. As it happened Mi-chan was on the balcony and spotted us and invited Sifu J up for a visit as well.

Kobe II
We stood on the Balcony and chatted about the similarities of being married to a Japanese wives and about life in Kobe and things like how I can get my swords in to the country and misc stuff about Kobe.

It was time to move on. We invited Sifu J and his wife to join us that evening and we all headed off. Mi-chan took me around Kobe on a walking tour of Downtown. Interesting place, lots of small shops, clubs, stores, restaurants, and what not. Sometimes feeling very Japanese, sometimes feeling not at all like Japan, well other than the cuites with the short skirts, high boots or socks and the small streets with Kanji signs. After sitting in the park for a bit, getting a buzz off of Shu-Hi, it all had a bit of surrealalisticness (is that a word) about it.

After awhile our wives joined us. Sister and her husband were suppose to join us, but brother was just back from a cookingweek of being on the road with business trips so was too burnt out. There was suppose to be another International couple, but for whatever reason they choose not to come also. So it was just the four of us.
We went to an Izakaya for dinner and drinks. They played Jazz music as background, it was nice but a bit on the loud side with us right under a speaker. We had good food, drinks, and chatting. I tried a couple of new dishes, yum yum.

Our next stop after a bit of walking is a little bar. We go in for a few drinks and shortly later Sifu J and his wife join us. That was good some more energy to the mix. We guys sit on one side of the table and wethe group discuss, life in American, life in Japan, team work with my Kung Fu and Sifu J’s, misc stuff. The ladies sat on the other side of the table and talk about, I have no idea. They were going on in Japanese and enjoying themselves.
We wrapped up the evening shortly after as Lady Zen and I had to catch the train back to Osaka. We got home shortly after midnight.





Osaka Park Tai Chi II

16 03 2007

It is Friday already, wow the week went fast. I got up early this morning, thinking about if felt like going to the park, in the cold, to practice with the group. Also being on the shy side, I felt maybe I would be intruding. I checked my email after getting awake and there was a comment on the last Osaka Taichi post from wujimon.

He had commented about the different energy of group practice. He is right the chi flow is stronger in a group. So I took that as a sign I should go. Besides it would be my first group early morning park practice, and being in Japan that would make it special as part of this “Zen’s most excellant adventure” So I dressed and headed out.

walkway

I left somewhat early figuring to get my own practice in before hand. I picked a little spot just off from where they would assemble. I was amazed at the amount of people mostly older that were out jogging or walking that early in the cold.

I started my routine of warmups, then went into Sigong’s Tai Chi Palm. Half way through I noticed a few people watching from the other area, from the couple of remarks and stares I guessed they were part of the group. Next I did Sigung’s Tai Chi Sword, when I finished the group had gathered and were starting their warmups. I gathered my stuff and headed over.

The lady I knew, motioned for me to join them so I did. I followed along on the warmups. After a bit I figured out they were doing Pa Lum Gum. ( 8 silken movements). Although somewhat different from the way I learned I was able to follow easily.

Afterward we went into Yang 24. They had music chinese music and narration going through some of the warmups and through the fom. It was their guide I am guessing. We went through the set two times. It was a good feeling to be out doing this with the locals. Lady Zen says they are very use to us Gaijin this this area as there is a exchange school or soemthing in the area. This may expalin why people never bat an eye when they see me.

zazen

Afterwards I introduced myself to the group and was told they are there everyday. I was also taken aside and told something I did not catch at first. I thought she was asking about a movement, or telling I was doing a movement wrong. However after a bit I got it she was taking about doing the sword in the park was not good. Another Auntie also said, the sword in the park in not good to do. She said, it is a collaping sword?, I said yes, she said I want to do that also. I do not think even the Japan police with consider my folding sword a weapon to be taken as threat to anyone, unless I hit someone on the head withthe handle, but I will keep that in mind.

After we ended, I went over to a spot by the lake for some Zazen.

It was a good start for the day.

I am enjoying my vacation in Japan, this has been the best visit. Also way too short. The park here is beautiful I look forward to seeing it in the Autumn one day.

bamboo


News from state side is, there have been layoffs at my company. Not unexpected, seems the force is with me, I have dodged the bullet again. That would be a real downer to hear while on vacation I was sacked, well anytime really but more so whilst on vacation. Who knows what awaits upon my return…

anyway…

worrying about it will not change anything, but my peaceful space and distory the moment…

So for now, life is not only good, but the Force is with me.