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Photos
July 1st, 2007

 

Watching men pee is
perfectly acceptable.
A pretty rainbow. We could only stay in this store for a few minutes and then we
suddenly got sad.
Why do you need a window
in the door?
of Thought this would a cool thing. A standing sushi bar, wow, great idea.
Nope, not a great idea. The food
was around my thighs and hard to eat. It was mostly foreigners and young Japanese since adults knew
it was just a novelty.
It's just pooh. Man to Man & Group?
A 5 question quiz on simple verbs.
 The answers were: Ask, Buy, Clean, Close, Cook. She meant to write
SHUT for Close.
Drain Creaner No, I'll pass thank you.

 

Skit Contest
Monday, July 2nd, 2007

     Three girls wrote and have memorized a clever skit for the skit contest in a few weeks. Last year I wrote the skit and it was very Abbott and Costello, but it was rejected by the BoE. Iím still a little mad at them for rejecting it. The boys were really excited about English and memorized this complicated back-and-forth ďwhoís on firstĒ style skit about the differences in Japanese and foreign cultures. The BoE said it didnít fit into the typical style of skit, even though at every skit contest, the judges tell the contestants to break away from the traditional style. Every year the group that breaks away from the traditional style is the group that wins.

     Anyway, this year I let the kids write it completely and I only changed a few things that didnít make sense as well as cut a few lines that were redundant. Itís really clever and I think it has a chance at scoring or winning. Itís about a boy and a girl who go to a fortune teller, even though the three actors are girls. There are some lines that still crack me up. Theyíve already memorized it so all we have to do is practice it a few times.

     We filmed it last week and sent the video to the BoE. I canít possibly see how they could reject it. If they do I am going to politely let them know how I feel. Iím going to let them know that these girls are really excited about English and now they are sad because it was cut. Furthermore, it would be nice to receive some guidelines about exactly how the script should be. Iím getting ahead of the cart though since I donít think they will cut it (sending out positive thoughts). When we filmed it the English teacher and I played a trick on the girls. The cameraís recording light is very dim so we just left it running the whole time. In between takes we would tell them to relax and dance a bit to get loose. One girl would always dance it up, while the others would only a little. Iím going to edit it somehow to make it look really funny and play it at the school festival in October.

     Ok, new monetary goal. I will pay off my 2nd loan by December of this year. Then next year, I will pay my completely unnecessary federal college loan down, hmmm, letís say $10,000? Thatís doable I think. I will have no major trips planned and can easily send back $1,000 a month. Though I would be happy with paying it down less, but no lower than $5,000. I would like to travel somewhere during the summer (of 2008) and then I will be going to Thailand again in December, but that wonít require a huge savings. Oh wait the Olympics are in Beijing in the summer of 2008, well nix a China trip. Australia and New Zealand are going to be in winter, so thatís out. I could plan my Europe trip then since I have about 4 weeks off. I also have my car emissions tax in November, but that should be less than $1,000 including the weight tax (as opposed to $2,000 for my old car). I can start saving for that early on. This year is the year of the Boar, next year will be the year of money. (Ironically it will be the year of the Rat, which is about wealth).

     Sunday I got so tired of doing nothing that I decided to just drive. I ended up at some sushi place in Koriyama and hung out with a cool Koriyama JET named Chandon. I guess heís no longer really a Fukushima JET since he teaches elementary school privately. Anyway, he bought me a tasty mango iced drink and the worldís tastiest macadamia nut cookie and we chatted about Japanese culture in the coffee shop of the Tsutaya book store near his place. We share some beliefs about Japanese culture. He too can see the negative things and wonders why they happen. We agreed itís not the cultural differences that bother us, itís the underlying attitude associated with them. He will stay in Japan a long time and possibly forever since he has a Japanese girlfriend and he loves the history and culture. I donít think I can stay here forever since I let things bother me too much. Thereís a lot of discrimination and denial and even racism, and it gets annoying to me, whereas he can ignore it and accept it.

     Today the P.E. teacher has a big test for all grades over two periods. It was scheduled for last Friday, but it rained. Iím pretty sure he doesnít like me, or foreigners in general. When he first got here I asked him which school he was at before this one. He said it was hard to explain. Then I later overheard him telling another teacher where he was and it was suddenly easy to explain. It was a big school in town so I have no idea why he couldnít explain it to me. I think those were the last words he has spoken to me since April. He wears his collar up all the time and I have overheard some of the younger teachers saying he is an alpha male. Not only does that phrase translate, it is exactly the same ďah-rue-fah-meh-rueĒ. One thing I do like about him though is he demands silence when students line up after cleaning. Sometimes he will get on the intercom and say the Japanese version of SHUT THE #$&% UP NOW.

     I wish I could prohibit girls from cutting their hair so short. One of my favorite 8th graders had long flowing hair and these dark rimmed glasses and really had a nice look. Iím not saying she was attractive or I was attracted to her, Iím just saying she had a style. But she came in today and had her hair cut short, almost as short as my buzz cut. She looks like a black tip ball point pen. Iím sure itís easier to manage, which is why mine is so short, but she looks odd now. I know her looks are irrelevant to anything, especially me, but still she had style and looked cool.

     I have one student who is a 7th grader and I love her. Not like love-love her, I mean as a student she is great. She already writes English better than most seniors, but that is due mainly to her desire to learn and because she went to a private school for a while in elementary school. When she writes something in her daily journal (they are required to write 10 lines per week and she writes 10 daily) if she makes a mistake I will correct it and then she wonít make that mistake again. She is going to be my start student. Iíve already starting slipping extra worksheets in her journal and she does them and gives them to me the next time she turns it in. If she ever goes to a foreign country she had better change her name since in English it is pronounced Lunar. She even knows what it means. She has more points than the rest of her 30 person class combined.

Computer Time
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

     I got sucked into the land of computer time, which is where you are doing something and then realize itís been 30 minutes or an hour since you looked up or moved or stood up, etc. I was searching the web for something stupid and all the teachers left to go do their after lunch homeroom type thing. As usual the teacherís room was empty for a while. Then I kept typing and searching and later realized my leg was asleep from sitting on it funky, for an hour. Where are all the teachers now? So I looked at the whiteboard and realized there was some big speech in the big hall by some office workers from Koriyama city. Iím sure it was more interesting than I just described it, but I donít know what it was about. I strolled down there and saw all the teachers sitting in the hall listening and then quietly slipped away. I have no desire to sit through a two hour meeting, all in Japanese, about something that doesnít concern me in the slightest. Iím glad I didnít go to the meeting since the board says it was supposed to end at 3 and itís now 3:30.


Green Tea Revisited
Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

     I was in the small kitchen area of the teacherís room and about to get some green tea. Another teacher was in the room filling up glasses with green tea for some visitors. She was pouring the dried leaves from a canister I always use. When she saw me she asked what I was doing and I explained I was getting green tea. She grabbed another canister from the shelf and handed it to me while saying ďhere is the green tea for regular teacherís use, of course you would never use the green tea I am holding since it is the higher quality ceremonial green tea reserved for visiting royaltyĒ. I used the tea from the canister she handed me and it tasted like stale pond water that buffalo had passed through. I can only assume Iíve been using the ceremonial high quality tea instead of the poo tea.

     Oh yea, Iím gonna keep using it.

     I drink two of my McDonald's cups of the nice green tea everyday at school and then 2-3 big 32 oz cups of water after lunch. I only drink the green tea before lunch since it has so much caffeine I'd never get to sleep.


Both Ways
Thursday, July 5th, 2007

     The cultural differences I lash out at, sometimes work in my favor. There are some visiting dignitaries from Tokyo University here from some reason. They came with the board of education. When they arrived some people scurried into the kitchen and began preparing tea (the previously mentioned ceremonial tea) and small snacks. I walked over to ask if I could help and they said no. But they looked really stressed since there were about 7 people visiting and only two women were helping. I asked again and they said it was alright, they could manage. So I said ďreallyĒ and they replied, ďwell we could use help, but you are a male soÖ..Ē So that means I am above doing these minor things and the people who are not above it, even though they are above me in rank, are the women.

     Iíve gotten pretty skilled at walking by the ďgiftsĒ table and subtly picking up two or three treats brought by visiting dignitaries. I donít want to hover and seem like I am shoveling my face, which I am sometimes, so I casually walk by and pick one up and slip it in my pocket. The only bad part about doing it is when the treat is wrapped in some plastic wrap that makes a noise when I pick it up. Sometimes I will cough to mask the sound, but I fear this might attract more attention than just the wrapper sound.

     After school, or rather 5th period, there was a special math class with the 4th graders where the prestigious math teacher from Tokyo University taught. About 20 teachers and officials were in the room with the kids and it was a big thing. Grades 1-3 were sent home so as not to disturb the event. I watched a bit and then left as I was bored. I went to the library and played with some kids, but a few were physically hurting me. They would hit me like they were playing, but it was actually painful. Then I got them back good.

     They ran into the hall and I chased them. Then I stopped and said ďDonít go down to the 4th grade classroom, they are having a special class.Ē The kids did this stupid thing where they pull down an eye (like you would to show something to a doctor) and then stuck their tongues out. Then they ran away and went all the way down to the 4th grade classroom just to spite me. Then they ran INTO the room still squealing. I couldnít see what happened, but I saw the vice principal walking them sternly back to the library. When he got to me I explained that I had already told them to not go down there and if they did to be very quiet, but they ignored me as usual. The kids confirmed what I said and apologized and looked really sad. It was great.

Sick
Friday, July 6th, 2007

     I did two very Japanese things today at school. First I came in around 11:30 (not very Japanese). I was sick last night due to some nasal drainage down my throat. I couldnít sleep since my throat was dry and scratchy and my nose was constantly running. I waited until 9:30 and went to the local clinic. They opened at 8:30, but I forgot. There were a lot of people waiting, but I went right in for some reason. He checked me and gave me the usual medicine which is a bag of powder with some pills in it. You just dump it in your mouth and wash it down. I went back to my apartment and got a bite to eat and rested a bit and then decided to go to school since I felt fine.

     First thing I did that was Japanese was to come back to school and not take the day off. I easily could have and every kept saying I should take a rest. But I will rest tomorrow and Sunday since Iím still broke. I also had mock interviews after school and I didnít want to miss those. The teachers were saying how dedicated I was to come in just for that. The second thing was as soon as I came in I went straight to the vacation time ledger and wrote 4 hours of vacation time. Japanese people receive sick time, but never use it. By never, I mean never. You lose a limb, itís a vacation. Get scurvy, vacation. Foreigners typically think of vacation time as voluntarily choosing to not be here, such as actual vacations. Japanese think of vacation time as not being at work for ANY non-work related reason.

     The doctor said it was just a cold, but that could mean a variety of things. They refer to several things as a cold. Pretty much anytime you donít feel good for any reason, itís a cold. I donít care what it is as long as he had medicine that makes it stop. My nose was running (though mainly my left nostril only), my throat was itchy and dry, I would sneeze and cough a lot as well. I didnít sleep much last night because of it. I would have been alright if I had some NyQuill and DayQuil.

Glad to be Sick
Saturday, July 7th, 2007

     Sounds strange, I know, but I had no money and nothing to do so I was glad to be sick. I'm much better for the most part, but the medicine makes me a bit sleepy, so three times a day when I take it, I went to sleep for a while. At school I counteracted it with green tea, but at home I wanted to waste time by sleeping. So all day today I would sleep or watch TV and then pass out or work on the computer a bit. It was much better than last weekend. Although now everything has that layer of sick sweat to it and that sick smell. I guess I will do laundry on Sunday if it's sunny.

No More 545s.
Monday, July 9th, 2007

     I woke up this morning as my alarm was going off at 5:45 and said ďNo more 545s, I didnít order these, send in the new models.Ē Then I heard myself talking and realized I was in a dream so I went back to sleep, though I didnít realize that I had turned off my alarm. Luckily I woke up again around 7:30 and went to school.

     Then at school I was checking studentsí journals. One girl wrote 10 lines as expected and then attached a few of those little thumb nail sized photos called ďPrint ClubĒ. I looked at the photos and thought ďhey this must be your older sister and some cute friend.Ē Then I read the caption and it said ďthis photo is me and XXX (another girl in the class).Ē WOW you look like you are 25. They had regular clothes and were posed and didnít look like 7th graders at all.

     Since I overslept a bit, it threw me off my regular work cycle and I felt sluggish for a while. Then I drank my cup of green tea (ceremonial tea) and felt better. Thereís a distinct point at which I could feel it kicking in. My brain starts moving faster, I want to stand up and move around the room, I get new ideas, etc. Itís pretty cool actually. Iím glad green tea is good for you since coffee was not so good for me. Although the coffee itself might have been alright minus the ten sticks of sugar I had to put in each cup to make it tasty.

Sleep Talker.
Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

     I really chatter in my sleep. I have for years and I donít know how to stop it. Iím always afraid I am going to have some dream about something I shouldnít and talk in my sleep about something I shouldnít be talking about at a time when I shouldnít be talking in my sleep. You can fill in your own worst case scenario for that.

     Anyway, what I really hate is when I wake up while I am talking and then get confused as to why (or to whom) I was talking. The above mentioned 545 conversation was an example, but itís much worse when I am in a room with other people. This morning, though alone, I woke up and I was angrily talking to someone and then I got up and started brushing all the non-existent ants from my bed. I was nearly yelling ďstop it, get off me, stop itĒ. I had my window open so I can only imagine how that sounded if someone was up at 5am. Iím going to put that down on my personal profile if I ever join a dating service. ďI talk in my sleep and sometimes I act out my dreams.Ē I bet that will drive the ladies wild.

UNREAL.
Thursday, July 12th, 2007

I simply cannot believe it.

I simply donít understand.

Our skit was rejected.

     Itís not possible for me to be any more livid than I am now. Iím not mad that we canít participate and I wouldnít be mad if we didnít win. Iím mad because there is no limit on the number of schools that can participate. There is no 10 million dollar prize. No one wins a trip around the world. These kids wrote this skit by themselves. They spent hours memorizing it and making it interesting. I didnít help them too much, I let them do most on their own. They were excited about English. But their skit was cut for NO #$%&(&$% REASON.

     When I cool down a bit I am going to write a letter to the people in charge of deciding. Itís going to be a polite coherent letter and I will have the JTE translate it to polite Japanese. If I wrote it now it would just spew hate and some offensive slurs. I get so mad when bureaucracy stomps studentsí efforts. That happens a lot in Japan.

[later]

I was wrong.

I can admit it.

     I had faulty information. I thought the people didnít approve the skit because they didnít understand it. I asked several times how many slots were open and I was told it didnít matter, as many schools could go as wanted. As it turns out that means as many schools can apply as wanted. But the skit contest is prefecture wide and only two schools from Koriyama city are allowed to go due to space limitations. Ok, that explains it and I am no longer angry. I was under the impression they rejected it because they didnít understand it or it didnít fit, but I get it now.

Farewell.
Friday, July 13th, 2007

     We had a farewell party with the board of education and all the foreign teachers in Koriyama. It was fun, though I really couldn't afford the $40 fee, and I wasn't drinking. I chatted with a lot of people, but one conversation is worth mentioning. Konan's old principal is now an upper level bigwig at the BoE. I told him about how sad the girls were about the skit contest. He suggested, rather than have them video tape the skits and then get a simple rejection notice, they should perform the skits and see the winner so they know who deserves to go. That's a splendid idea and I hope it works.

Sun.
Monday, July 16th, 2007

     Finally the rain from the typhoon stopped. I had a "doing nothing" headache all weekend and had to get some exercise. I speed-walked around the rice fields this morning and it was nice to get the blood flowing. Some people at the part Friday mentioned I seemed thinner in the face. Maybe the exercise is working. Then I got back to the apartment and typed an email and during said email we had a rather big earthquake. The whole building shook and I was able to see other houses shaking as well. It was nice.

Waiting
Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

     We should get the results from the standardized English test interviews this week. I think most people passed, but I wouldnít be surprised if one guy failed again. His default confused look is silence and mumbling and thatís not good. I taught the other kids to pause for no more than 10 seconds and then ask for the question to be repeated and then if they still donít know just say ďIím sorry I donít understandĒ. Iíve had several students pass and say they didnít answer anything, but they had the structure of the interview down and just said ďthey didnít understandĒ when they were confused. I love Japan. You can pass an English interview by saying ďI donít understandĒ. Hey, Iím not complaining, it works in my favor.


 

Something in the Air.
Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

     In the hall several boys, separately, asked me if I play ďonaniĒ. I knew it was bad since they were smirking, but I didnít know exactly what it meant. Later one kid gave me a mock demonstration and I learned it was masturbation. Groovy, one more word I didnít need to know since I foresee saying it at a bad time. The kid wasnít being rude, just a kid. Oddly talking about stuff like that is more or less acceptable in Japan, especially with kids, even more especially when it is toward a foreigner. Most anything is acceptable toward a foreigner. If a kid were to do that motion to a visiting dignitary he might get a small, polite, lecture afterwards when it was convenient for both the teacher and the kid. But to a foreigner, itís funny.

     Then in the 7th grade class I was acting like an ALT. I donít mind it since last year I didnít go at all to the first grade class and as a result I didnít/donít know the 8th graders level. Anyway, I was in class and when it was over I drew a stickman on the board for this one girl. Sheís one of the top 8 who go to a private school every week and she is advanced in English, but she never writes her nikki (weekly journal Ė though it literally means daily writing). When I see her in the hall I hold a key to my knee which roughly means ďknee keyĒ or nikki. So I decided to draw this as a reminder to her. I drew a small stickman in the top corner of the board as the teacher and the other students were wrapping things up after class. I drew the head, body, one leg and a key for the other leg.

     She had this wide eyed look on her face and I assumed it was because she was surprised I drew the knee-key guy on the board. I pointed and said ďthereís a reminder for you, just for you, look at that drawing everyday and think of meĒ. She sat silent, as Japanese kids do, and just stared at it. I pushed my point ďeveryday I will draw this and you will look at it and feel bad, it will make you think of me everydayĒ. All in Japanese so she really understood it. Still she sat staring with a shocked look. The whole time I was looking at her and pointing at the board. When I looked at the drawing I too was shocked. I had drawn a stickman which a huge penis.

     Think about how a key looks. Itís bulb-like on one end and then elongated on the other. Without much detail like a key hole or the valleys and grooves, it really does look like a penis. Plus the stickman was small so there wasnít much room for detail. I erased it and walked out. I passed her in the hall, but we didnít make eye contact and I certainly didnít do the knee and key thing.

     When I got home I downloaded the FuJET newsletter and it had an explanation of the word ďonaniĒ. Apparently it comes from the Old Testament and a guy named Onan who spilled his seed on the ground. Somehow that was imported and used to mean self pleasure / masturbation. I really wish I didnít know this word since I am already thinking of words it is similar to. Nani means what. Konan is my town. O is a particle in Japanese. Yea, I see problems with that.

[later]

     I have had a small headache for a few days now. Itís not enough to really hurt, but just enough to make me think I have a brain tumor or something else. I canít get rid of it by normal means so I am starting to worry. I even went jogging this morning to really get the blood flowing, but that only helped for a while. Iím going to see what happens over the next few days and then panic.

     The results from the English interview came in and everyone passed. A few students said they were sure they failed because they couldnít answer one or more questions. They did say that they asked for the question to be repeated and then said they didnít understand and I told them not to worry since structure is more important than English ability. I could probably pass a test of Arabic or Hebrew that way. You gotta love Japan, especially when the ďJapanese wayĒ works in your favor. All the kids are happy, the teachers are happy, the administration including the BoE thinks it was my strong, well planned, intensive English classes, but really I was just using the system against itself.

The White Man
Thursday, July 19th, 2007

     I really enjoy the total state of denial Japan is in. Whatís more interesting is not only how they deny their bloody past, nor how they constantly preach how they have always been the victim, but mostly how they show any shortcomings of other countries ESPECIALLY the US. Now I am not trying to downplay our bloody and racist past. The US most definitely did (and some say are doing) some hideous things to other Americans and usually non-Americans. Iím not debating that for a second, what I am asking is what is the point of having the pictures and stories below in a childrenís book about the US?

Well this photo might show one example of interesting sightseeing spots around the US.


Oh, then there is Disneyland which is world famous. We should include that most definitely. Maybe a shot of the area around the Grand Canyon would show the diversity of the land in the US.

But how did America come to be?

Well first the white man came and killed all the Native Americans and ran the buffalo out of their sacred land by building trains and taking over the west.


Then the white man rounded up some free Africans and brought them over for slavery. When these Africans rebelled the white man formed hate groups and killed them by hanging.


 

Later the Africans were allowed to go to school, but the military had to help them since a governor told them to go away.

Who wants to visit racist America? Letís do a home stay.


     Iíve seen this stuff before, but it was in high school books. At the time that sounded absurd, but now it seems to make more sense than this which is from an elementary school library. I couldnít imagine having a book about the Rape of Nanking, the Singapore-India railway (bridge over River Kwai), the Korean occupation, orÖwhat was that other small thingÖ.oh yea, Pearl Harbor. A childrenís book for #$&% sake. Ok class, todayís reading sample will be about ďcomfort womenĒ and ďefficient ways to decapitate prisonerís of warĒ. Yay!! Comfort Women.


[later]

     During lunch I had another discussion about differences in cultures. Today we had this pork chop type thing, which in itself, was tasty. But itís nearly impossible to cut it with chopsticks. I was fighting with these two pencil like utensils and it wasnít pretty. Luckily other teachers had the same problem. Then one asked ďhow do you eat Ďsteakí in America?Ē I explained we use a fork and a knife. This brought on the usual mild laughter. Ha ha, can you believe those savages use a fork and a knife? I guess they canít use chopsticks like our advanced culture.

     I wish they would use mentality in all aspects of their culture. Farmers donít use two metal poles to do farm work, they use a pitchfork or a shovel. People donít rake leaves with two poles, they use rakes which look like forks (and sometimes they sweep the leaves with old straw brooms). Chopsticks are great for noodles and flat or small (non-round) things, but as far as cutting steak goes, anything would be better.

World Record
Friday, July 20th, 2007

     I set the world record for fastest language flub after learning a bad word. Today I was talking about who came to a French Horn concert yesterday sponsored by some local windmill electric company. A teacher said parents and neighborhood people. I said a neighborhood is a little smaller than what he meant so he should say people of Konan, or Konanians. He looked at me and said Konani, which apparently means " a little masturbation" since Ko means small, and we've established the rest. I just smiled and said "nice, that was fast". He was confused so I just mumbled and left.

     After the closing ceremony I drove into Koriyama to get some small time-sensitive errands done. I had to send money back to the US (with a lousy exchange rate) before 3pm, then I had to mail something, and get lunch that wasn't my usual school lunch.

     On the way there I noticed I was behind a big truck on the small curvy road. I tried to pass a few times, but since I'm not a moron and don't pass on hill curves in a tunnel I wasn't able. Then I realized, I don't want to pass. This guy is taking up the whole road. Oncoming cars must stop and get out of OUR way. We are the masters of this road. You there, divert your eyes when you approach King Ryan. Cars were coming up and then wildly getting out of OUR way. We must be allowed to pass. Thou shalt move.

     Look at that, he's taking up the whole road. WOO HOO. All shall stop in my presence. We were hauling butt and I was right behind him for a while. I was free, I was driving like a king (if a king ever drove himself). Quickly jump off the road you foul peasant, WE own this road now!! HA HA HA.

     Then the road widened and my little fantasy ended (with stupid things like that being yelled out the window). Eh, it was fun for a while.

In Koriyama, I had sushi for lunch (the better slightly more expensive sushi) and then got a haircut. I mailed something to someone and finally filled up my car with gas. I still put no more than $30 in the tank and drive as far as I did in the huge Legacy which took $70 fill up, I just don't get there as fast. When I finished I decided to get a car wash from the automatic machine that actually touches the car with brushes. I drive over there and start reading the sign and then I realize it is telling me to get out and completely tape up anything that protrudes from the car. That's stupid, and yet I expected it, I just want to drive up, drop in some money, get washed, then leave. I don't want to tape my car shut.

     You can even see the yellow tape in the lower right hand corner. I was supposed to tape the wipers, back wiper, the mirrors, the gas tank, and whatever else there was that protruded. So I just left.

      I had the bright idea to wash my car at home. When I got home it was pouring down rain. This is great, I will run inside and get a bucket of soapy water and a sponge and soap it up and let the rain wash it off. Brilliant. The sky is completely black so it should rain for a while.

     Oh no. The second the car is completely soaped up it stops raining. Because that is my life. This was after I had run inside and filled up the bucket twice and thrown it on the car, but there is still a lot of soap around the front. I can control the weather. Next time I have some outdoor activity planned and want it to stop raining, I will just soap up my car.

Why there are no guns in Japan
Saturday, July 21st, 2007

     I was woken up at 7am by one of those annoying election vans driving through my town SCREAMING over LOUD speakers about how we should all vote for some guy. It was so loud. For some reason I jumped out of bed and grabbed my camera and filmed it and then I uploaded it to YouTube.com. Check it out and remember 7am. If there were guns in Japan someone would go out and shoot these speakers off the truck. Turn your speakers WAY up to get the full effect.

 

 

 

Lazy Cool Summer
Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

      Monday, time flew by and then the VPs made an announcement that we all need to get out by 5. I actually wanted to stay later since my computer at school has MS Excel and I donít have that on my main computer at home. I have it on my older laptop, but that was in the corner and I didnít feel like rearranging everything. In the end I did move things around and put my laptop on my desk with the big computer.

     Then I spent about an hour redoing the stupid window covering paper screens. Iíve been gluing little pieces of copy paper to cover the holes that appear from air pockets between the window and the paper screen. At some point I bought a roll of the replacement paper, but never got around to it. Then Monday I got tired of there being holes directly into my living room so I took them down and fixed them. I had the forethought to NOT rip the old paper off and start over in case there was a problem. There wasnít, so now I have, more or less, two layers of the paper. One with some holes, the other nice and solid.

     Today the time has gone by really slow. I guess it is because of the fact that the internet is down today, or more likely they are doing some upgrading on the network. About every 10 seconds I open a browser because I have some obscure thing I want to Google, then I remember and close it. Now I am to the point that I no longer open the browser, but I get the urge to every 10 seconds.

     Tomorrow is the new (and improved?) English Camp for Koriyama. I actually think it will be better than before since it is two full days. One aspect of the camp that I loved was how the kids would go to English camp about three times a year and really get to know these other kids from other schools around Koriyama. They made some close friends who they kept seeing at any English event such as speech and skit contests. But this is two FULL days which should be more intense than 3 nights. Plus there is no school so the kids donít have to worry about studying like before.

Back to the Grind
Monday, July 30th, 2007

     English Camp is finished. It was good, but there were some growing pains since it was a completely new style. The next ones will be better. It finished Saturday morning and then I drove back to my apartment and felt sad and alone. I had been through three days of constant excitement with 56 kids running around and 10 of my foreign friends being there, and then I was alone in my apartment.

     Sunday there was a bowling day with the 2nd year JHS kids and their parents and the teachers. I didnít do well and I noticed I never do at bowling. I was living in ďalmostĒ town for most of the game. I would get all but one pin then miss the spare. A few times I got a strike, and then I would gutter. I really wanted something to impress the kids with, but not in Ryanís Almost World. Then they asked me to make a speech at the closing ceremony. It was embarrassingly stupid and I really need to learn more Japanese.

     Today is Monday, as mentioned in the clever title of this section, and I am back at school. Iíve got nothing major to do this week, but several small things that need attention. Iím working on one project that will take a long time, but should be good. That was vague on purpose since I donít want to spill the beans yet. I should get back to that now.

      The power of music is amazing to me. The elementary kids were practicing for some concert in the fall. The song they are doing is some foreign song that I swear sounds like the theme to MASH. Then another part sounds like a part of the Jurassic Park music, but not the part where they are being chased by the dinosaurs, the happy part where they just won or something like that. So all day I kept thinking about MASH and Jurassic Park and then sometimes at the same time. Like a T-REX attacking the MASH compound. The music was faint and in barely audible so I wasnít always aware that I was listening to it, plus they were practicing all day so I thought I had tuned it out, but I guess not.

Insert/Overwrite
Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

     I spent most of the morning translating so much stuff from memos I have received over the year. Then I hit some random key sequence that changed my Japanese keyboard from insert mode to overwrite mode. Since there is no INS key I couldnít do anything. Usually I simply close MS Word and re-open it and that clears it up, but no luck this time. I tried everything and then figured out a surefire way to fix it. I would use Ryan Syndrome to fix it. I figured if I asked some teacher about it and tried to use my computer as an example then it would suddenly fix itself. So I tested it by closing and re-opening MS Word several times and it definitely was not fixing itself. So then I asked a teacher and said ďcome look and I will show you on my computerĒ. Then I opened MS Word and tried the exact same thing I did before, and it magically fixed itself as I knew it would. I have since opened a help request ticket on Answers.com hoping someone else has had this problem in the past. I have had it several times in the past and itís always annoying.

     Well I have good news and bad news. Really itís just good news, but I am afraid I might make it into bad news. I finally got the car tax refund back from the tax office. Well I have a sheet of paper that says I can pick up the money at any post office at least. So that is good news. The other good news is my car tax for the new Kei-Car (really small engine) will only be $65 so I get $330 back. Thatís more good news. The possible bad news is that I am really broke this summer and might have to spend some of it. I could do a week long fast or just eat $1 for a week if I had to I suppose. I had earmarked the money for the last part of my plane ticket back to the US in December. I need to get that soon before the good seats are gone and the prices go up. I think I might be getting some money for English camp which would be a wicked bonus since A) it was fun, B) we got free room and board for three days, and C) I would have done it even if we didnít get paid.

     This English Camp was much different from all the others. Rather than have the kids be taxied there every night for three nights and then do 2 hours worth of activities and then go to school the next day, they had it so it was two solid days of camp, plus most of a third day. There were some problems with planning since one guy was assigned to run the camp and only a few other people helped, but overall it was fun. I want to help plan more of the next camp and I think I will be able to.

 

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