Ouch. So much for frequent updates. It's been a week and a half already. I guess when the days slowly slide by and the facts of life don't seem so pressing to report on it gets increasingly difficult to write something of worth. I would be happy to write nonsense for myself but with a few readers out there it seems better to give some content that isn't a complete waste of space.
Over the weekend I was in the city hanging out watching Harry Potter on Friday and then running errands on Saturday. Those errands really didn't amount to much as I can't buy a bus ticket more than a month in advance and getting a reentry permit wasn't possible on the weekend either. So much for all I wanted to accomplish. I did, however, make it to the electronics store to look at ovens. What laid before me were a selection of nice sleek ovens with many features and cooking guides to make the worst cook a gourmet chef. I'm sure there are no lies about the foods you can prepare but none of that I'm remotely interested in. All the lower end models can go up to about 250 degrees Celsius. The catch is that after so many minutes this temperature will reduce 20 degrees rendering high temperature cooking or baking impossible. Perhaps the oven would overheat or is it the innate nature of Japanese to fear fire. The latter was only what I caught in passing from a professor while studying abroad so I can't speak for the validity. Regardless nobody wants a crippled oven. If I want to make a pizza I need temperatures that can go past 250 Celsius. Well for that option I can opt for a more pricey model that goes up to 260 degrees but the benefits don't outweigh the cost.
Faced with these obstacles the only other option for purchasing a proper oven would be to spend 1,000 or more for a legitimate oven but what a waste of money. With three brochures in hand I left the store feeling somewhat defeated faced with the realization that I would have to make too many sacrifices for something that doesn't fit what I need it for. I spent the drive home mulling over the dilemma as I once again started to ponder the prospects of building an oven.
Sunday saw the graduation of the 3rd year students. The graduation was as riveting and exciting as a Japanese ceremony can be. Just when I thought it wasn't possible to bow anymore I was astounded by the countless bows popping off literally left and right. Such formal drivel that has perpetuated every corner of the Japanese mind for ages. The formal aspect of the Japanese language is interesting despite how it encourages such behavior. I'm not sure if there is another language that you can change the politeness factor from 1-10 just by the words you speak. You can't do that in English in anyway shape or form. There is a base level of politeness that streams from our thank yous and other courtesy that can't be increased.
A handful of local representatives from different organizations spoke at the graduation. As with many Japanese ceremonies I at first try to listen for the practice of it but soon see my eyes glaze over from behind my corneas and I start to think how I can warm my feet that feel like they were plunged in ice baths. Now these painful speeches have one redeeming factor and that is finding the people that are falling asleep. You can be assured that heads will nod and slumbers will be invoked by the exciting ceremonies of Japan. Makes me feel somewhat vindicated for not listening. Isn't this the case with speeches in general? Unless it's interesting who is going to remember anything that was said?
This was followed up in the evening with a party for the teachers and parents of the 3rd year students. I had convinced myself I wasn't going but once faced with the problem of every other teacher going I had no choice but to attend. At least I didn't have to drive which meant the opportunity to enjoy some handshakes with those in attendance. You know how handshakes at dinner parties in Japan work. Other than some pleasant conversations with fellow teachers I ended up home in a rather lethargic but peaceful state that was perfect for falling asleep. Blissful unconsciousness having its way with me.
To round things out here I have decided to not buy an oven at all but rather build one. I was unsure of this prospect all winter long after I saw that finding clay would be difficult. After some careful research it looks like I'm ready to drop some money on clay for the sake of this oven I want to build. I haven't ever bought 250 pounds of clay but I'm looking forward to it. Bye bye 120 dollars but you weren't good for anything just sitting in my bank account anyway. While I'm not quite ready to buy I will be moving forward soon. Once I calculate sand costs, some bricks, and a few other materials I will be on the way to earth oven freedom. Over 2 years of dreaming coming to fruition. Even if I spend 200 dollars for materials it will invaluable experience. My undertakings aren't usually the easiest ones but they are satisfying beyond many others. I wouldn't be surprised if I end up on a homestead someday living off the land.
Better not get my hands on old farming and machinery books....