In this  email a bunch of observations and one funny story. First some things that  have happened. My apartment is extremely damp...all the time. So  much so that some of my clothes have mildewed...now that is humid air. One  white shirt took a real "green beating" so I had to take it to the dry  cleaners. With pocket dictionary in hand I went to one. Well of  course I had to get a membership card for the dry cleaners...again memberships  are really big here. To make a long story short they told me it would take 2  weeks to get my one, basic white shirt done. Uh...sorry that just won't  work...I need it within a week (again improvise with one word English combined  with one word Japanese...both by me)...a phone call to someone and then an  "okay"...one week...have I mentioned that things aren't done quickly  here?   I've seen some great sights the last couple weeks. I had a day off last  week so a couple Japanese girls...women...young ladies I know along with another  ALT went to Nikko. This place is known throughout Japan as a place to see  leaves. Kinda like the Vermont/New Hampshire of Japan. Well, I  wasn't expecting anything close to that, but I was really amazed...and it might  have even beaten the beauty of any of those states...lots of waterfalls too...I  took pictures. We also visited a few Shinto shrines which were a few  hundred years old...even took some pictures of those...well video at  least. A few friends of mine came up  a little time ago. We were in my local McDonald's when a long-haired,  teeth missing (the others were gold), hippee wannabe (I know that isn't an  official word) came up to our table. In a grin that only his mother (or  maybe not even her) could love, he pointed to my friend Rafi and said in what  might have been the only English he knew "You strong, sex,  magician"...after a couple seconds of processing by the four of us we  started laughing...he then walked off. Rafi takes the liberty to remind us  about this and we all laugh...but my question is should he mention that he was  chosen by this man? Almost forgot to mention the fact that this man kept  staring at our table from a far for quite some time. And people say that  there are barriers between East and West...well in a small corner of a  McDonald's in Nakanojo a connection was made. Yes Rafi is in the audience  tonight. Hi Rafi...you strong, sex magician you...but anywho (again that  isn't a typo). One day I was  teaching...imagine that...well in one of my classes six of the students had one  of those surgical masks on. I thought there was some flu bug going around  or something since I only thought they wore them when sick. Turns out they  wear them when they are avoiding being sick too. I guess that little mask  works both ways...in this case the students were going to run in some festival  and they didn't want any germs to get to them. I forgot to mention that the  highschool girls wear really thick, leg warmer, type socks with their really  short skirts. I also found out that they keep them half-way up the calf  and exactly straight with each other by gluing them to their legs  everyday. Guess that is the style now though I am told it is fading  out. The music here consists of  mostly teenage or young adult bands who sound like the Japanese Hanson...so I  rarely turn on the radio. Japan doesn't put their  clocks back or forward...so now I am 14hrs ahead of you if you are on the east  coast of America. So it is 4:10pm on Wednesday here and therefore it is  2:10am Wednesday morning there...I am already half way done with the week...envy  me. A little while ago I saw this  sweater in a pattern book and I wanted it made. Well I found out that to  get it made by a company would cost over $270!! I mentioned it to a lady  at my office and she asked her knitting teacher if she would do it...she agreed  and I got it yesterday. It took her 10days...40hrs to make this wonderful  thing...I'm no (did that on purpose too) knitting genius, but that is pretty  fast. She only wanted me to pay for the material, and to have a picture  taken of the both of us while I was wearing it. She even thanked me for  the opportunity to make a big size sweater since it was the first time she has  made one that big. Gotta love the Japanese hospitality. I'll bring  the sweater home at Christmas.