June 27, 2003
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Ever since I came to Japan, I have had problems waking up on time. I decided that it was mostly because I didn't have a clock to look at. It would probably help if I went to sleep earlier, too, but that never seems to work out as well as I would like. Either way, a clock would be helpful. Since I don't really want to buy one or anything, I decided to use my computer as my timepiece.

For a few days, I tried to just look at the clock in the corner of the screen. It's way too small, though. Without my glasses on, I have to get half out of bed and squint. It takes a good fifteen seconds and kind of wakes me up more than I'd like. The solution, since I can't really see, was to make an audio clock.

I sorted out all the music that was too loud or distracting and arranged everything else (about eight and a half hours) by author, into hour-long music blocks. The theory is that I can wake up at anytime in the night and recognize about what time it is by the artist. Because I don't have exactly an hour of each artist, I threw some other things in at appropriate places, then narrowed it down to exactly eight hours, minus about five seconds. I start it before I go to bed, at the appropriate point in the playlist so that it is consistent from night to night, as though I had started at midnight, from the beginning. It's set on repeat, so at eight oclock, it just starts over.

It hasn't exactly worked out. When I'm half asleep, I can't always distinguish between artists, so I've been wrong a couple times. Also, I've been strongly mistaken about who performs some songs, so it sets me off by an hour or more. Plus, during half of the important waking-up-period, the group I chose is too quiet. So although half the groups before it seem to wake me up, I haven't once been conscious to hear the between-one-and-one-half-hour-left-until-class block. I don't really want to change it now, though, because I think that would just throw me off more.

Today we went to Nara. It's about an hour by train. We saw a museum and a temple, met some cool Korean tourists, that sort of thing. It was raining a little. Just a light drizzle, getting everything wet, but not pouring so hard that an umbrella was necessary. There were a lot of stairs around the temple. There usually are a lot of stairs at the temples we go to, and they are always the same kind of stone steps, with foot-wide stone slopes on either side and no handrails or anything.

Like all the stairs here, each step seems about four inches shorter than I would like. I have to take two steps when I go up them or it tires me out, because taking one step harldy gets me anywhere. Anyway, towards the end of the day, there was a big flight of stairs to go down. At maybe ninety or a hundred steps, it was about an average set. Given the weather and the long day and all, I thought I would take a break from walking for a little while.

The stone slopes on either side of the stairs are right at stair-level, no higher, and the stairs are short and deep, so the slope is not much. It was nice and slick from the rain, so I slid down it. I started just standing. At first I thought that it would not be slick enough to keep me sliding, but I actually sped up pretty quick. About halfway down, I noticed I was drifting off-center, in the direction of the stairs. About three-quarters of the way down, I decided that I had no control over this drift, and so I had to abort.

Injuries: A big scrape on my right hip, tiny cuts on hands and knees, a bruise on my right thigh.

I kind of jumped over to the stairs and tried to keep going down them, running pretty fast, because I kind of had to, from the momentum. It didn't really work out, though. The steps were as slick as the slope, and I was running so fast that I couldn't really match my strides with where the steps start or stop. I lost my balace after maybe one stride, and fell forward on my front for the remaining three or four steps. I slid a bit, I think, beyond the stairs. I somehow got my arms crossed in front of me, and from the way I was lying, Patrick, who was at the top on his way down, was almost convinced that I had broken both of them.

I am, of course, just fine. I got scraped up in a few places, and there is probably going to be a bruise on my thigh, where my pocketful of chenge was driven into my leg, but they are all survivable injuries. Alicson and Abel were kind enough to go off buying bandages and disinfectant, and treating my major scrapes. It was good that they did, because I probably would have just kept dabbing them with tissues for the rest of the day. I think that might be considered poor hygiene.

Abel, pictured here with some kids

Abel has been to Japan before, and likely is the best Japnanese speaker in our group. I met him exactly twice before this trip got underway, and he would probably only remember me from one of those times. It's not surprising that we didn't see each other much. He is in the theater department, and that is not exactly where my interests lie. The picture here is from when we went to an elementary school in Kobe. That was a fun trip.