The Power of a Dream

“Every amazing achievement that we see in this world is a dream come true.”

What does that tell me about the importance of dreams, goals?

Could it really be the case that

What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

Ahhh! Where’s the sandpit?!

Disaster averted

Ahh, the wonders of the internet. What DID we do without it?

It was thanks to the internet that I discovered that all domestic BA flights had been cancelled up until midday tomorrow – including the one that *Twinkle* and her family were due to take from Manchester to London Heathrow, where they would board their plane for Tokyo, in order to be back in time for *Twinkle’s* birthday on Sunday.

If they missed that connection, not only would *Twinkle* have had to spend her birthday in an airport and then a tube of metal, but our Christmas plans would have been off too.

However, thanks again to the wonders of the internet, I was able to speak to *Twinkle*, and then British Airways, for virtually free. What did we do before mobile phones, before, and in particular, what did we do before Skype?

The “I’m calling from Japan” line works wonders. Like a magic spell, it puts the person on the other end of the line into overdrive, makes them want to transfer you internally to what would normally be a premium rate phone number (50p per minute), in order that you pay no more than 1p per minute. They call up their colleagues on your behalf (thus avoiding the queue), and you hear them say “I’ve got someone on the line from Tokyo…” The magic bounces down the next line, continues to work its wonders.

Approaching Haneda airport

The outcome is that a note has been put on their reservation saying they’ll board the flight in London – don’t let someone else take their seats! Tickets have now been purchased for a train that will get them to Heathrow in time; in fact, they don’t actually have to leave Sheffield any earlier than had they flown from Manchester, thanks to the time difference between the north and the south of England.

What a blessing this internet thing is. Absolutely remarkable. I really don’t know what I’d do without it.

(Probably a lot more homework…!)

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Reindeer Fest

Turned out to be a most rewarding party. About 30 people there, almost all of whom were Japanese. Ate, drank, played games (which would have been difficult even if I hadn’t been drunk and having to use japanese…), met some REALLY interesting people; not only the chap who’d just got back from Egypt, but also Sho, who lives a couple of stops down the line from me. Now there is someone who is an inspiration: I will do my best to meet him again. He also happens to be a singer, thus tonight’s Karaoke session was utterly fantabulous.

Once home, I read about heavy fog blanketing the UK, 40% of Heathrow flights being cancelled etc. Decide to phone *Twinkle* who’s due to return to Japan in a couple of days to warn her, and to remind her to buy me some deodorant. Can’t get it over here as Japanese people don’t sweat, due to being brought up on a rice diet. She’s shopping in York, and doesn’t seem to want to talk to me. Says it’s a bad signal. “Sou nan ya” (really…) think I in my unfortunate Kansai manner, but continue to love her ridiculous amounts and thank my lucky stars that we met when we did; perfect timing. Still can’t really get over the fact that I’ve met someone who is so completely lovely.

Needs work on her international-telephone-call-from-boyfriend manner though. I shall have to spank her when she gets back, after she’s spanked me.

My super party present went down very well, the recipient, who I didn’t know until tonight, was very grateful for the hours of work that went in to what was a unique gift. It drew quite a crowd. For reasons of national security I can’t reveal here what it was, but I was mighty pleased. Its so nice to do special things for people, especially when they’re strangers.

Well, I’m tired, it’s been a long (productive) day. Speech first thing in the morning, hurray!

Raaaaaaaaaaa! I love life, it’s so damn exciting!


I feel GREAT!

This is ridiculous. I’m so ultra happy and amazing today that I can’t stop laughing. I would wonder what the neighbour thinks, but it doesn’t matter! Caw blimey, good job I woke up now, not 20 years down the line!

I’ve made some wondrous wonders in the kitchen (like this HUGE pot of soup which is packed full of goodness and will feed me for the next three days), I’ve done some ultra crafty stuff with my mac having discovered this great creative program that was lurking in its depths, I’ve made 100 business cards, each one different from the other, featuring a different photo from my favourite everest photos (not as in mountain but as in ever ever ever), I’ve taken delivery of 6 CDs which have nearly made me fall over they’re so exciting, I’ve read some fascinating articles in my current Japanese read-of-the-day, a magazine focusing on uni students… now I just ned to have a shower and get ready for the Christmas party I was invited to yesterday with a whole bunch of students who I met, funnily enough, for the first time yesterday. AND I remember the names of all the people who told me their names! And i STILL remember my own name.

Crikey, life is so exciting my head’s gonna explode!

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Self-talk, love and death

Last night saw a classic example of Joseph reading the wrong thing at bedtime.

I currently have 10 books by the bed to read. All written in English, most of them packed with positivity and wonderfulness. The book that is feeling the pressure of my little stick-on post-it book mark things is “What to say when you talk to yourself” by Shad Helmstetter. It’s really basic stuff, explaining the self-management sequence that plays a large part in determining whether we attain our goals or not. It goes: Programming > Beliefs > Attitudes > Feelings > Behaviour.

It’s terribly exciting to discover that one’s brain is simply a super complex computer that will accept whatever you tell it, if you tell it enough! A bit like an old fashioned cassette tape. Your ‘program for life’ is gradually recorded onto the tape as you grow up – to change that programming later in life you simply need to record over it with a new message. Alas, the original message was so well-recorded that you can hear the original voices in the background! But, if you re-record your new program time and time again, you will no longer be able to hear the original message – you have successfully changed your programming. This then changes your beliefs, which then affect your attitudes, which in turn determine your feelings, and thus ultimately your behaviour. It’s a simple program. It’s just a case of doing it.

I’m going to be putting this theory into practice in January. An experiment, involving this book, messages tailored to my own needs, my darling mac, and my iPod. Might sound a bit daft, but I see no harm in trying. A bit of brainwashing never hurt anyone…

Anyway, there I was, in bed at midnight, reading my Japanese magazines [I tried manga, as suggested by some people, and as encouraged by my discovery in the rubbish shed of a whole series of the huge weekly volume, ‘Jump’, but found the lack of sentences containing over 3 words very frustrating, give me a whole sentence anyday, complete with ha’s, ga’s and te’s etc] …when I decided to read just a bit more of the aforementioned inspirational book. Well, that was it. I was still awake at 3am, having spent two hours trying to make my brain shut down by listening to the lovely music on the Podgy’s Tokyo Talk [podcast] (Enigma on, I think not! Took me back though…), whilst playing solitaire on my ipod. I swear it’s programmed to make you lose every time.

Thus, today I am somewhat knackered. I went through the speech I have to do on Friday with my private sensei from St. Paul’s Ladies Club, and discovered that nearly all of what I’m going to say is actually complete bollox. Well, we wouldn’t want to scare the teacher by actually talking sense for once now would we? Had a sort of mock-exam today too. That was funny, in a kind of woops-I’d-better-revise type way. Yesterday’s multiculturalism class was quite satisfying too; I managed to write a whole letter again, and, when requested to do so by the professor, give a mini-speech to the class clarifying the position of the Opium War(s) in the UK’s National Curriculum. Thus my use of Wikipedia the night before…

The Society and Culture class was quite funny, if not hideously embarrassing at times. Not only was my trust in the authenticity of the Durex Global Sex Survey ridiculed by the lecturer, but my lack of research on Disneyland Weddings came under fire, with devastating results. Thing is, I’d found a photo of a Disneyland Wedding (see my Japanese blog for that) , and decided to use it as the theme for my mini-presentation on popular culture. It seemed to fit the criteria – fantasy taking over reality, living in a matrix-esque world where image is everything; look behind the mickey-mouse mask and there’s simply nothing there, no deeper meaning. Anyhow, this was all a bit last minute, so I didn’t really figure out exactly what my argument was beforehand. Instead, I simply put the picture on the OHP and started talking about how sad it was that marriage had come to mean so little that one ended up with Donald Duck reading the vows whilst Pluto yellowed the brides train.

Following a few random comments from the audience I thought I’d managed to get away with it, that is, they’d been so bedazzled by the spectacle of Chip ‘n Dale trying to seduce the bridesmaids that they hadn’t noticed that I actually had nothing to back up my claim that it was a sham marriage. Boy was I wrong. It was at that point that Cameron, a fellow exchange student who I don’t know terribly well (nice guy though!), put his hand up and said,

“I actually work at Disneyland, and I’m afraid you’ve got it a bit wrong…”

The shiver that those words sent down my spine were worthy of belonging to a pod of peas upon their entry into the Findus factory. It could only go downhill from there. And it did. Like Disneyland’s Thunder Mountain ride. My lack of research was revealed to the world. I was shown to be a nikumpoop with no hypothesis and no hope for redemption. Tomatoes and eggs were thrown. I was booed off stage, it was terrible.

Mind you, as soon as I sat down I just had to laugh at how silly I’d been to even attempt to talk about something without having done any research. It was perfectly OK though, this wasn’t being assessed, it was merely meant as a springboard for further class discussion. I must admit I really don’t take my studies here half as seriously as those in Sheffield. Might be something to do with the fact that none of the non-language modules count towards my final grade. It is wonderful though to engage in these discussions, without feeling the weight of academia on one’s shoulders. I shall enjoy it whilst I have the chance.

There followed a fascinating debate about love in Japan – why do Japanese men believe in love, when Japanese women only believe in credit cards? One idea floated was that 2 generations have now grown up with parents who for economic reasons spend little time together. Thus, they have no romantic role models to look to. The men, who still have to go to work to earn money, dream of a Hollywood romance, whilst the women, after 5 decades of peace (i.e. husband always at the office), can think if nothing more fun than spending said money on a new outfit for their flea-sized dog (the latest craze). Controversial, perhaps, but it would explain the survey results. The other theory of course is that all of this is complete rubbish, that people in Japan believe in love just as much as they do anywhere in the world. I mean, they do have TWO valentine’s days after all (one for men to do the giving, one for women to reciprocate. The idea was to avoid those embarrassing situations where you find that both partners have bought each other an identical £5.99 box of Cadbury’s Milk Tray).

Surely that makes them doubly romantic?

We also talked about this ridiculous suicide addiction – 27 out of 100,000 Japanese choose this ‘way out’ (vs., for example, 11 per 100,000 in the UK). It’s been in the news quite a bit recently, with children committing suicide “due to bullying” (n.b. this is the media’s take on events).

It’s hardly surprising that kids think that that’s the way to deal with problems like bullying: what happens when some local government agency is investigated following embezzlement claims, or some school has been found to have been teaching the wrong curriculum for years? Why, the politician or head-teacher in the spotlight commits suicide of course! What a great example to set for children!

When these same children see other children committing suicide, and then witness the full force of the media coming down upon the cause of that child’s suffering, they see a wonderfully effective way to deal with the cause of their own misery. Commit suicide and let the media do the rest!

Then of course there’s the loans companies (booming business at the moment. You even have mini, unmanned “loan booths” in railway stations and motorway service areas. They’re quite private so no-one can see who the poor bugger is…). The bad companies (of which there are many) actively encourage their clients to commit suicide, having (unbeknownst to the client) taken out insurance against such a act. It’s a guaranteed way to get their money back! Thankfully, this year there’s new legislation being introduced to outlaw this practice, nonetheless, shocking stuff.

Then there’s the biggest borrower of the lot – the Japanese government! It’s estimated that their debts amount to a staggering 18% of the entire world’s GDP! I think it must have been Koizumi’s weekly session at the barbers that did it.

What am I doing here anyway?

Ah, the sushi, yes, that was it…

[p.s. the negativity will end – when the module does!]

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