30 September 2010

The first and last cockroach

So I think I got pretty lucky with my apartment. It's on the third floor of Jutaku, teachers' housing. I have the kitchen, a 4-tatami bedroom and 2 6-tatami living rooms, basically it's huge and really cheap cos it's subsidised.
Most importantly...it's pretty much insect free!

Before I came to Japan I'd been warned about so called hand-sized spiders, which I later learned were huntsmen:

Apparently, they've been in my apartment in the past so needless to say I was terrified about the possibility of that happening again. I saw my first one on the wall of a department store in Shimada, it was really far away but still looked massive! Scary stuff...apparently cleanliness was next to insect-less-ness, and once you get small ones, the bigger ones that eat them follow. I didn't take this super-seriously until I found the cockroach..

I first spotted it in my kitchen, crawling along the floor next to the presses, big, black and ugly. That said, I was on the other side of the room, from where it looked just like an over-sized beatle, not too horrible. I ran and returned with a shoe, during which time it disappeared. I remembered after that, that they spew their eggs everywhere if you squash them, and a whole nest springs up. That was a real lucky save!

Our next, and final encounter happened in the hallway. Paranoid, I'd covered the whole kitchen in roach-boxes, round black things have some mysterious negative effect on cockroaches...the photos on the box were less than obvious about it! Either they repelled it or it was going exploring because I found it making a beeline for my bedroom, oh no you don't! I hopped by it and it froze. Diving into the cubbard next to my front door I dug out a can of bug-spray and chased it around, spraying.
Unfortunately, it continued towards my bedroom. The bug-spray had a really limited effect on it..occasionally it fell over with its legs flailing all over the place, but it quickly righted itself and continued on. I had slid the screen door of the bedroom closed, but this was less than fool-proof as it slipped through the side of it. I uttered some profanities at that point..it was pretty late at night and I was planning to sleep in there soon!
Anyway, I reefed open the door to follow it and it sprang at me! Perched halfway up the door when I slid it, it had jumped and pelted me in the arm. I screamed, retreating! It had fallen onto the ground again and I began blasting it with bug-spray. It fell over and I managed to cover it with an upturned rubbish bin, trapping it. Emma 1, Cockroach 0.
Needless to say, I was fairly traumatised. I'd never seen a cockroach before and I had no idea they could climb walls! When I'd finished rocking back and forth and sobbing I realised that the bug-spray was just for killing flies. It wasn't the uber-strong cockroach-killer you can buy...which explained its uselessness!

I spent the next 2 days granting the upturned bin a wide berth whenever I passed it. The original plan was to wait long enough for it to starve to death, but I learned that they can actually live for ages without food. Eventually, armed with the proper spray, I decided to man-up and tackle it. I tilted the bin up slightly and emptied abou half the can under it, like throwing a gas bomb into a trench. No response. Tentatively, I picked up the bin, and there was the cockroach, no less terrifying in its death-huddle, but thankfully, dead all the same.

Since then I've become a complete hygiene freak. I keep all my bins on the balcony, bleach my drains, inject my tatami mats, cover all my plug-holes with wire-mesh and never open the windows.

It's amazing what Japan will do housekeeping skiltz!

29 September 2010

Finally online!

Wow, it's been a while!

Fortunately I didn't manage to beat my predecessor's record of 2 months waiting for internet, but I came pretty close! There were so many complications...what's the name on my phone line? Not mine, not my predecessor's, not Shizuoka Prefecture..it turned out to be my pre-predecessor, who very few Japanese teachers at my school remembered so we had to do some digging in files to find her surname.

Yahoo BB, my internet provider, is trey-ridiculous about the name on the phone line. They won't tell you if you call them so you have to guess and they say yes or no. You can ask for hints but it's at their discretion whether or not they give you them!

Firstly, I applied with the name of the Prefecture and heard nothing for about a month. After harrassing Yahoo BB they finally sent me a letter explaining that the name was wrong...yeah, worked that out thanks! So I applied again and the modem arrived last week, woohoo...2 days of internet before it randomly stopped working.

I then had to wait out the weekend, during which the English speaking helpline isn't available. I called the next Monday to find that the English speaking helpline doesn't deal with technical problems...boo. Had to ask my (amazing, amazing!) supervisor to call the Japanese one, felt so bad! After a long conversation, and I mean like 45 mins later, he explained that they'd exchange the modem...and here we are.

It's been working for an hour so far. Long may it continue..