Ok I guess.
November 1, 2008
I got a call from the garage at 7:30am and missed it so then around
10:30am I went out there rather than call him back. He wasn't there so
I talked to his wife and she showed me my new car. It's pretty cool I
guess. It's not the
I wanted, but it is more economical and better suited for the area.
Once I tint the windows and add a few things it will be better. Here
is a photo of a similar vehicle I found:
That actually looks nearly identical to the point I would think it is
a photo of my car except for the fact there is some tinting on the
back window and mine has none. It's the not the smaller (cheaper)
Pajero Mini that I thought, this is a Pajero Junior which is a white
plate with more power. Nearly double the power I think, but also
double the emission test cost, gas tank size, and 5 times the weight
tax. I can't lie down in the back, but that has only come up a few
times in 3+ years so no big deal I guess. It has a nice radio so I
hope the speakers are nice as well. When I turn my radio up slightly
now the speakers crackle so much so that I often wear headphones while
I can't drive it until sometime next week because there's some form
that takes a week to get. It really takes 10 minutes to fill out and
stamp, but if people did things that fast and efficiently they would
get more work and no one wants that. No one except for me. I actually
requested more work recently from the BoE. There will only be 3
classes in the JHS next April so at best, if I were to have every
possible class in a week there would be about 15, but realistically I
will have 3 NT classes, 2-3 classes as an AET, and then 2-6 classes in
the elementary school per MONTH. I go to Ohse once a week which is
great because they use me (though not my activities sometimes...), but
I would prefer to have another school once or twice a week. I really
don't like having 2 days with no classes and then 2-3 weekend days of
Back to the car. I think I get it next week sometime. Monday is a
holiday and Tuesday I go into town for an elementary school seminar
and maybe I will have time to ask if the 10 minute form was finished
or not. If not I will say that I have a car, but I am waiting on that
form and it's really inconvenient since I am renting the loaner. Then
maybe the guy in charge of foreign teachers will ask the other guy if
he could possibly hurry.
Tonight there is a Halloween party, but I don't think I am going. I
realized it would cost a bit more than I have budgeted for the weekend
and I would end up being the old guy in the corner who doesn't know
anyone. Then I would have to find a place to stay and pay to get to
and from said place. Plus tomorrow there is a chance I might go to
Utsunomiya for the gyoza festival. I'm not sure of the details, but I
know it will be about $20 each way by local train and take 2 hours.
Maybe I was
wrong, not likely, but maybe.
November 3, 2008
I went to the local gas station to get some kerosene for the heater.
To get there I had to drive past the garage that has my new car. I
took my camera to get some photos in case the car was out on the lot
and they were closed. Not only were they open, but there were about 30
cars in the old 7-11 lot across the street...including mine. I pulled
into the garage lot to see what was going on and the owner came over
to me. I asked what was going on and he said something about them
having a sale since there was a little festival about 50 feet down the
road. I saw my car had a SOLD sign on it so I figured it was good
business to have some cars marked sold on the lot. I secretly wished
someone would come in and offer him an outrageous amount for it and
then I could get the Legnum. Oh I have an annoying story about that in
a minute. But first...
I asked him how much it would cost and he said he didn't know. That
struck me as odd, but then I figured he had to add in the loaner fee
and maybe the junk fee as well. So maybe that's ok and he had been
busy since it came in so again maybe no big deal. Then I told him I
ordered the parking space form a week ago and I should pick it up
tomorrow at which time I will bring it here and get the car. He said
once I bring it to him, he has to fill out another form and submit
that to the police and then a week later they would tell him if I
actually have the space or not.
So maybe I was wrong about the process. IF the reason the BoE guy said
it would take a week is because HE would fill it out right away and
then HE was going to submit it to the police and all that would take
about a week, then I will admit to being harsh. That makes far more
Japanese sense (not actual common sense) than I had thought. BUT,
there is a chance that the system is twice as absurdly inefficient as
I thought. In that case I have no remorse about saying how
ridiculously bureaucratic the Japanese system is. If it takes the guy
one week to fill it out and then the police another week to say "well
this form says there is a space so then we agree", then wow that takes
the cake. I will know more whenever I get it.
On a lighter note, here are some photos of my future vehicle:
The one at the top of
the page has a tire cover, but otherwise nearly identical.
I'd like to get a grill guard maybe and tint the windows.
Having a full size
spare is cool, even though I have to buy 5 tires for the car.
It's got a cassette
player. I haven't had a cassette in years.
The old 7-11 and the
cars for sale.
November 5, 2008
First let me say I donít care who you voted for or who you
think is the best or worst. I truly care more about the mating habits
of praying mantis that what you think Obama/McCain will do if elected.
I find it funny how people think everyone else is stupid and
uninformed and it is their duty to tell people how to vote. Would you
change your mind if I said ďyour candidate is an idiotĒ, no you would
think I am the idiot for saying that. As I think you are for saying it
I had two classes today with the 5th and 6th
graders, well one each totaling two. For the 5th graders I
did a massive review since many things have slipped through the cracks
and they might not know something they should have learned the
previous year. Iíll take the blame, even though there are other
reasons why they werenít taught various things. I didnít even prepare
one thing for the class with the 6th graders because when I
do the teacher invariably does something else. Heís a good teacher and
his class is really advanced so I never complain, but it has caused me
to not plan anything for it even when he tells me to. Iím glad I
didnít because he ended up having them use the computer to play some
computer games I made.
Yesterday I went to an elementary school observed lesson.
It was really helpful and Iím glad I was allowed to go. There were
some parts of the class I didnít like and wonít use, but I would say I
can use 80% of what she did. She had a new idea on scoring, the
alphabet, phonics, months, and a few other things. Thereís another one
on the 18th and that should be equally as informative.
I went to the BoE and asked if they had the car form ready
for me and they said not yet. Apparently it is a difficult form that
requires several intense mathematical calculations and trigonometric
proofs as well as calculating things along the space-time continuum. I
have to see what happens when I get the form. Will it take another
week or will it be finished when I get it? Pessimist me is banking on
it taking two weeks. I would be unbelievably surprised if Japan was
suddenly efficient with paperwork.
Around the school last week there were parent-teacher
conferences. I really wondered what goes on in a few of the sessions.
For most kids it would be like ďwell your kid is on track for a good
high school. He/she is doing fine and scores above average on the
tests and does all the work.Ē But then there are going to be a few
that are like ďyour child ranks at the very bottom of the class, well
actually the bottom of the school. This is no change from all the
previous terms. He/she never turns in work, never participates, never
writes anything on the tests, and will not be able to go to any high
school except for one that takes anyone.Ē There are some kids at the
school that do absolutely nothing at all and still pass. They graduate
right beside the student that busted ass all year to get the best
grades. They get the same diploma.
Just Wait for ONE SECOND.
November 7, 2008
Iíve mentioned this before, but it never ceases to amaze
me. In Asia itís rude to make someone
else wait, even for a second. Literally one second. For me I donít
like to wait, but I know itís a part of life. Quite often, I might
even say always, when a car is turning the car behind it will do
whatever it takes to pass and not have to stop. Most always when a car
or something is stopped in the road, cars coming behind it will just
go into the other lane regardless of oncoming traffic. The reason I am
writing about this is I was in the parking lot of Xebio (zay B-Oh)
last night. I went to Ohse and then realized I forgot my gym clothes
so I went to go eat and then goof off at the sports store for a while.
When I finished I went to my car and had hoped to sit in it for a
minute or two, but some car followed me and pulled in front to wait.
Then another one tried to pass it, then another one tried to get
around it. There was this big jam because no one would wait for 10
seconds while I pulled out.
I had 2 good classes today. They were with the 1st
and 2nd years of JHS. They were real classes with a goal
and an activity. I found a flaw in both activities, but the timing was
right and the kids were actually speaking and learning some grammar
point. In one I used the video I made for Ohse two weeks ago or last
week. The kids liked it and I want to make more.
I went to Ohse yesterday and had planned two activities.
One was for the 2nd years and it was a ďWhatís wrongĒ grid
where each kid had a problem and time it started and then everyone had
to ask everyone else whatís wrong and when did it start. Then I made
another complicated activity for the seniors and when I got there I
found out I wasnít teaching them. He told me I was last week so I
spent a long time making a few different activities until I had one
that was decent. Then we didnít use it at all. Such is life.
I sent a letter to the BoE asking for more work since I
have so little these days. My plan is to come to Konan 2-3 days a
week, Ohse once, and then another school or schools 1-2 times a week.
He seemed keen to it especially since I will be driving myself and
they will not be reimbursing me.
The absurd car form came in today so I drove out to the
garage and gave it to the guy. Actually I gave it to his father, the
owner, but itís all the same. I wanted to ask about how much the car
is since I donít know yet, but I did tell him it would be ideal if it
was under $2,000 or around it. Itís a nice car and Iím worried that
itís going to be more than I can afford. I wouldnít even know how to
tell him I couldnít afford it, even with the loan, since he put in so
much work getting it. I still want the long white Legnum though, even
it itís not the best car for where I live.
Last Friday I went to a cute Halloween party with the cute
2nd graders. There was a li sync show with the kid that
gets too hyper and causes problems. He did some cool death gothic lip
sync stuff that was odd, but I could respect it. Then there was some
magic stuff by various kids and of course some kids in the audience
would announce ďI know how she did it, thereís a blah blah in the
containerĒ and it would ruin the trick. Finally they did something I
thought was cool, but ended up awful. Some kids drew some pictures and
the teacher gave them away. She held them up and said who wants it.
People went crazy and the artist was beaming. Then some kid got up
there and no one wanted his stuff and it was awkward and stupid. Itís
the same way we assigned students for the elective class last year
when no one got in my line. I was just standing there with no one and
people were looking and laughing.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I went to the car place yesterday around 3 and filled out a billion
forms. I wrote my full address in kanji more than 20 times to the
point I am now a master of doing it. Each time had to be perfect and
if I had made a mistake I would have had to redo the whole form.
Furthermore, no one could write them for me since they were official
loan applications. I should hear something soon, but I think it will
be no problem since I work for the BoE and have been here 7 years.
The funniest thing was all the nonsensical paperwork I had
to do. We donít sign forms (which would be logical and secure) instead
we use a name stamp like you might have had as a child. But we canít
just stamp things, we have to have an official document that proves
that stamp is official. Thinking Japanesely I can somewhat understand
this. However yesterday I had to have a form that proves the form that
proves the stamp is officialÖ.is official. Then I had to have a form
that proves I have a salary and one that proves I am allowed to be in
Japan legally. They all had to be official documents. At one point the
garage owner said ďI think a copy will doĒ and I said ďno way, I have
been through these things so much they always want originalsĒ. So when
he asked the bank guy if a copy would do and got shot down I smiled.
If you are every buying anything like a car in Japan copy all your
official cards like the foreignerís card and driverís license (front
and back). Then get multiple originals of as many forms as you can
possibly imagine. Luckily for me the car shop was across the street
from the town hall.
Sunday night I had a great meeting with the woman that
runs the International Salon (center) in city hall. She helped me with
some Japanese questions I have been having and really answered them.
This is why I hate being taught Japanese IN Japanese, because I miss
things like this. She explained the differences in a few verbs that
are similar and now I totally understand. It was very helpful and I
hope to meet with her often.
So I should get the car this Friday. I heard the car guy
semi-subtly ask the bank guy what are the chances and he said it
should be no problem for the previously mentioned reasons. So if the
loan goes through then the car guy will drive it to Fukushima city on
Friday and then give it to me Friday afternoon. Then I can drive it to
the BoE bowling night on Friday. I might be going back to Ohse on
Friday after school to practice interviews for the national English
test and then I would go straight to the bowling thing.
The funny thing about the car is that I will be paying
more than twice what he paid for it. Granted I know there would be a
mark up of sorts, but the increase is due to fees and paperwork and
fees related to the paperwork more so than any profit he would make.
Thereís the auction fee, delivery fee, tax until May, yearly emission
(Ďshakení rip off), mandatory insurance, transfer fee, and several
others I havenít translated yet. Thatís one reason why I really wanted
to buy something from that friend in Fukushima city. He gives people a
flat fee and doesnít add in all these things. I know these are all
necessary, but thereís no auction or delivery fees with him and those
together are $500. My favorite fee so far is the $400 ďService FeeĒ,
because really what is that? Thereís a $200 fee to register for an
inspection. Hmmm, well I guess the car place that sold me the crappy
rusted frame actually isnít going to do anything. So I no longer have
anything nice to say about them. POO on them.
Later that night he called me and told me I was rejected
because I wasnít Japanese. I could have a co-signer, but the co-signer
had to own land and make X amount per year and I said forget it. Iím
not going to ask someone all this info because the bank is skeptical
of foreigners. He asked if I could come in tomorrow so I said I will
be there around 9:30 to talk about it.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I had one class with the 2nd years (8th graders)
and it was so-so. I gave them a word game like scrabble. There were
Japanese instructions, but they still didnít get it. They would write
words anywhere and I told them sometimes this created words that
arenít English. Finally they semi-understood it and it worked semi-ok.
I need to make a curriculum for them and stick to it. They are
expecting movies every week and other teachers are thinking my classes
are crap if I only show movies.
So after the class I went to the car place and he said the
first loan was rejected because they wanted me to either be Japanese
or have a guarantor. You might think this is merely a co-signer, but
itís more than that. The person has to be like a senator and make a
lot of money and own land and hadnít moved within X years. It was too
much to ask anyone so I said forget it. Then he said he went ahead and
applied to some place called OriCo and we were waiting for the call.
Then, just like a fiction movie, the call came in and I was accepted.
They said they will happily loan me money for less than two years.
They said they came to this decision because I have been here nearly 7
years and work for the BoE and am not really an immediate flight risk.
Plus if I were to leave I couldnít take the car, which they would then
own and could sell. Hey is this some sense of logic in Japan? They
must be a foreign company. Anyway, the loan should go through this
week and thereís still a possibility of getting the car by Friday
before the BoE Bowling Night. Iíve regained some of my faith in the
Friday, November 14, 2008
I stayed until 6 last night at Ohse JHS helping some students practice
for the big interview part of the national English test this Sunday.
Everyone was impressed and surprised since I usually leave at 4:15 and
all the AETs before me had to leave then as well since they took
taxis. I leave at 4:15 because I have nothing else to do there and I
usually go straight to the gym after school. I think the practice
session was helpful and hopefully it will give the students that
little bit of confidence to pass the test.
Today I am going back around 3:30 to help students
practice a bit more for the interview. Hopefully around 3 I will be
getting a call from the car place saying my new ride is ready for me
to ride it. Iím excited since itís nice to get a new car (new as in
new to me not brand new) and the big-little Kei car I am driving now
isnít very big or powerful. It takes a lot to get up hills and it just
feels bulky. So either I get the call and the car around 3 or I get it
tomorrow, but everything seems to be coming together.
After the interview I am going to Koriyama to participate
in the bowling night sponsored by the BoE. By sponsored I really mean
organized since we all have to pay for our own ways. Afterwards, I
tried to plan a party somewhere, but I donít know if that will work
out. More updates as they happen.
Well I heard nothing at 3 so I went to Ohse JHS to help the students
with one last prep session for the big interview Sunday. Then I
checked my phone to see what time it was and saw there was a message
from the car place. I had planned to do interview practices until
about 4:30 and then do laundry and then go straight to the bowling
night, but when I called him he said he had the car and I could pick
it up. So at 4:30 I drove back out there and got it. After all the
paperwork and details I left at 5:30 to make the 45 minute drive
through thick traffic to get to the bowling place at 6pm. I made it
and learned a few things about the new car, one of which being it has
a mean passing gear.
It drives great and I feel like I am in a Jeep. I am up off the road a
bit and I can feel the power. The speakers are my only complaint, but
those can be changed. The only thing I worry about with them is the
door cover is one big piece so it would all have to come off to change
them. The other thing is I prefer tinted windows, but that's something
I might actually be able to do myself. I found a kit with all the
parts and enough tint for a few windows so I might try that myself
later. Today I am going back into town to take part in my weekend
ritual one last time before the big diet crunch before my next blood
Oh I see.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
I looked at the purchase order again and realized why the $1,500 car
sold for $3,500. I also paid for the huge every-two-year $1,500
emissions and overall inspection. Which means the next time I have to
pay for that is November 13, 2010. I don't know that I will be here,
but either way that's plenty of time to save up for it. That would
also explain why it seems so clean and drives so well.
This week will be short. Tuesday I have an all day elementary school
observation visit, then Thursday I go to Ohse in the morning and then
I come back to Konan in the afternoon for an observed class, one of
which I will semi-participate in. I know that I will be in it as a
show piece. The teacher always more or less runs the class and I'm off
to the side. I don't complain since the kids are advanced in English.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I havenít gone to the gym in the past 3-4 weeks. I have tried to go a
few times and just canít. I actually made it inside one time and
worked out for 30 minutes and then had to leave. It was like my entire
being was screaming ďget out of here nowĒ. The other times I get half
way there and then decide I feel bad and go eat somewhere instead.
Sunday I actually made it to the parking lot and just sat in the car
for 30 minutes. That included a little nap, but still I could not
force myself to go in. From January until 3-4 weeks ago I loved going.
I loved the burn of working out. But now the thought of the locker
room and changing and doing the treadmill and working out and
showering, just drives me crazy. Itís frustrating, because now more
than ever I need to get in shape. I have my yearly physical coming up
and last year was a disaster.
It was all my fault for eating poorly so this year I want
it to be much better. It has to be somewhat better since I am on
medicine, but I want it to be 180įbetter.
My next monthly blood test is on my birthday so maybe that will be a
little gift for me if the results are ok. I think I can get good
results if I donít eat something bad for a few days ahead of the test
and exercise at home (or at the gym ideally) before the test. This
past test I had Starbucks coffee on Sunday and then the test on
Tuesday. I think some was still in my system.
You would think living in one of the most technologically
advanced countries would be really easy, at least technologically. But
itís quite often not. Iím trying to fax something to another city
within Fukushima prefecture and I canít seem to do it. I asked the
office lady and she said I canít. I took that to mean I was not
allowed to or the phone is not set up to fax long distance (even
though I know it is). Another example is the ATM network, or lack
there of. I can only use ATMs from my bank or the parent company of my
bank and sometimes I can use 7-11 ATMs. When I travel I have to put
money in my post office account since they have a better network than
the bank system. Plus the ATMs frequently close at absurd hours.
Forget Sundays or holidays and then after 8-9 during the week. As
advanced as they are, they just donít get the purpose of ATMs.
When you live in Japan you have to get used to being stared
at, but occasionally itís just annoying. Japanese people arenít
remotely subtle about it and usually point and stare. Itís usually
like I am a semi-famous celebrity who had some embarrassing sex
scandal recently. People stare and then look away while occasionally
glancing back over. Sometimes itís like I am Tom Cruise or some 12
foot green alien. They get wide eyed and donít even slightly hide it.
We just had a tour group come through the teacherís room and all of
them were staring at me and openly saying ďwow, look at the foreigner,
itís an actual foreignerĒ and then the vice principal said ďyes we
have a foreign native teacherĒ, but they were just pointing and
gawking. Yesterday I drove around looking at auto part places and at
one some Japanese equivalent of trailer trash pointed and stared and
told her kid ďwow he is huge, he looks like a sumo wrestlerĒ while she
was pointing in my face and staring like I was a 12 foot green alien.
I ignore it most of the time, but sometimes itís just like ďcome on
idiot get over itĒ.
Some Random Photos from my Camera
Center" where we have monthly meetings. We call it the Snow White
or sometimes the Snow White Planetarium. The next picture was taken
when I turned around.
idea why this is here.
school lunch from Ohse. Always good and always not enough.
Look at the soup bowl. That's what they consider full. It's tasty
They've raised the snow wall. The wind blows the snow across the field
and you can't see
the road sometimes. The pancaked things at the bottom will rise up and
form a wall later.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
There is one, and only one, distinct advantage to being too tall and
too big in Japan. I went to Aeon Town (a shopping mall of sorts) on
Saturday partially to show my new car around town and partially to
shop. I found some $100 New Balance running shoes marked down to $25
which was awesome since they were exactly my size. Usually I buy 27 or
28 since thatís about as big as shoes get here, but to have some
actual cheap 30cm shoes was a dream. I am using them as indoor shoes
at my main school and taking my previous indoor shoes to Ohse to be my
shoes there. I really donít like wearing sandals during the winter or
when I want to exercise or run around.
Tuesday I went to an open class for elementary school
English. It was interesting, but not as helpful as others I have gone
to. I always pick up new ideas and I picked up several this time too.
One funny thing was that some of us rode with our supervisor from the
BoE and accidentally taught him some new words. He mimics us and has a
good grasp of English. He has learned many things by copying what we
say. One funny thing he knows and uses appropriately (though it in
itself is inappropriate) is ďJesus ChristĒ. He said it yesterday when
water got on his coat and has said it other times. Something we
accidentally taught him was ďthatís crapĒ. Someone handed me an
electronic dictionary and it powered off so I said ďthatís crapĒ and
he understood it and the situation. I said it two other times and he
started using it.
Today during the lunch announcements I heard possibly the
most absurd thing ever in Japan. First off thereís never any ďprivate
self timeĒ. At every possible opportunity someone will be giving
others information. I truly think itís part of the culture to be
bombarded constantly with input. So there are always announcements
during lunch about anything and everything even if itís this day in
history, reading the lunch menu (of the lunches sitting directly in
front of people), or making other general claims of obvious things.
Well today I happen to hear them do a mask count. Japanese people come
to work/school even if they are sick. They believe this small white
surgeonís mask will block all germs and not infect others. They never
get it when half the school is out with the flu. So todayís mask count
was about how many students in each class were wearing masks. It both
made me laugh and didnít surprise me at the same time.
One Strange Day.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
It started when I woke up and noticed the window was a bit brighter
than normal. That means one thing in the winterÖ..snow. ARGH. Itís mid
November why is there snow. Out the window it seemed to be an inch or
so which is no problem really. So I get ready and leave around 7:45am
to head to Ohse. When I get to the car I see that it was a bit more
than an inch. My new snow tires are sitting in the apartment lobby
why would I need to have them installed until mid to late November.
BAG OF POO. Man I need to have them attached before it snows again. I
did get to try out the beast in 4WD though. There is a noticeable
difference in how it drives in 2wd vs. 4wd.
So that was one thing. Then I get to Ohse and see I have
class 4th period. Hmmm, thatís wasteful as usual, but I
guess if the other teachers donít have class thenÖhey where are you
going? One of the teachers had an English class so I asked if I could
go. I would rather stand in a class doing nothing than sit in the
teacherís room doing nothing. So I went and acted like a tape player,
which was fine, and then came back for two periods of sitting. Then in
the 4th period class we did a preposition game that I made
and it was a success.
Then I eat lunch fast and drive frantically back to Konan
because I was going to take part in the first observed class. I get
there to find I am no longer participating because the teacher changed
the plan completely at the last minute. The other irritating thing
about that class was I spent 5 hours helping a teacher make some stuff
for his class and then at the last minute he changed everything and
didnít use me or my stuff. I really stayed late three times making
some stuff solely for his class. Iím not mad that he didnít use it,
Iím mad that he didnít use it and told me by way of Japanese culture.
I always invite Japanese people to things and they agree. Oh yea that
sounds so fun. I will positively absolutely be there. Then at the
absolute last minute they back out for some asinine reason.
He asked me for some help last week and I made something for him. Then
I thought about how I could add something to it to make it cooler. I
asked him and he had the chance to do the Japanese way of saying no,
which is to do something other than immediately say yes. Usually it
involves a tilting of the head and gasping of air and eventually makes
it to ďhmmm that might be a bit difficultĒ. Thatís the vague Japanese
way of saying NO. But he responded with ďyes that would be great, do
you mindĒ which actually means YES in Japanese. So I made a few more
things and he liked them. Then he asked if I could add a few more
things and I did and finally I finished Wednesday night after having
spent about 5 hours on his stuff. I didnít mind in the least, anything
to make Konan look good and English teaching fun.
It was all the same last night, but then today he changed it all. I
rushed back because he was going to ask me things in class and I was
going to respond, but none of that happened. He only used about 10% of
what I prepared and even then he changed it drastically. Actually it
goes back farther than that. In mid October he asked which class I
wanted to teach so I said the 1st years. Then I started
planning a deep intense action packed lesson. At some point two or
three weeks ago I asked when my class would be and he said ďoh
actually you arenít teaching that dayĒ which translates to ďanother
teacher wanted your choice and since you are lower than the Marianaís
Trench you lostĒ. I said ok since that meant a heck of a lot less work
for me, but it still annoyed me.
Then we get to the 6th period class in which I supposedly
had an active part. However, I knew that I wouldnít do much because it
was with the teacher who takes an active role in my English class. By
active role I mean he runs it and I assist. For these observed classes
youíd think I would do more, but no I do less than normal. I did a
cheesy warm up and intro then he ran through some vocabulary stuff and
had the students repeat afterÖ..him. I just stood in the corner
watching as I did last year for his class.
Then there was a meeting where everyone praised the wonderful teachers
for their wonderful job. When we were arranging the seats I moved a
desk for the guy from the BoE and then three for the two English
teachers and myself. When I appeared to be not looking, one of the
teachers moved my desk so it was clear I was separate from them. He
also swapped the desks so mine was an obvious small childís desk (we
were in the 6th grade class room). Then we went around the
room and teachers talked about things they liked about the class and
made various comments. Two or three asked why I wasnít used in the JHS
English class and why I wasnít used more in the elementary class.
Vague roundabout answers were given. I was just nodding and laughing
when others laughed. Then I acted like I was writing notes at what
people said, but I was really doodling and drawing pictures. I wrote
bubble letters of the words ďWanĒ, ďpoopĒ, ďZZĒ, and for some reason ďZŁmeĒ
with the umlats (spelling). I have no idea what that means or where it
came from. It's probably some horrible racial slur or something. Then
I practiced the Japanese alphabet and acted interested.
After the class I walked out and didnít bother to re-arrange the room.
I went to the teacherís room and sat through the meeting where we
clapped for the teachers that had an observed class. We clapped like
they saved some children from a burning building. Then the principal
talked about how great it was and then how there is a party tomorrow
to celebrate how awesome we were. How amazing we as a group were. I
used to love these things, but not anymore. Iím not going to the party
to have three people talk to me and then sit in the corner and be
ignored because no one wants to endure my crap Japanese. No, Iíll sit
at home tomorrow and bask in the non-existent rays of my significance.
still find it odd wearing a suit and running shoes and yet that's
Friday, November 21, 2008
I had more or less forgotten about yesterday when the English teacher
told me a high school teacher wrote (in his evaluation of the day)
that the English on the wall in the English room, that I wrote, was ok
but could be better. One example in particular was ďHow do you say
___?Ē He suggested it would sound better as ďWhat do you say _____ ?Ē
When the English teacher told me that I thought for a minute, smiled,
and said ďoh okĒ. He actually agreed with me and said ďyea I did the
same thing. You are a native English speaker and you wrote that, but
he is only a high school teacher, so why should he think it sounds
better another way.Ē When I taught high school I constantly had
teachers correcting my English. I would get mad occasionally and then
I realized how stupid it was and just went with a smile and ďoh okĒ.
If they pushed further I would say ďno actually itís completely wrong,
but I didnít want to argueĒ. The arrogance is overwhelming at times,
amusing at others.
I Don't Buy It.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday was payday, but
I didn't go into town to send money back. I have no pressing rush to
get money back so I'll do it tomorrow or Tuesday. I went to Koriyama
on Saturday to run some errands, hopefully go to the gym, and then go
to a sushi party organized by Keiko. One of the errands was to buy a
new iPod even though I can't fully afford it. I could afford it now
since it's payday, but later in the month I might have problems. When
I got there I realized I didn't need it, I didn't even want it. I have
an iPod. Granted it's a Nano and only 8gigs, but it's functional and I
just swap things out when I want new music. Then I decided to buy some
other things from another store, but backed out again and realized I
didn't need them. I think I am going to use the money to get another
remote engine starter. That was a life saver last winter and I want it
again. No, I NEED it again. I might even upgrade to the one that
verifies your car is started and the nice model even shows the
temperature of the inside of the car. I still need to see about
getting the windows tinted and I'll be really happy. I might get those
cheesy curtains for that though.
Then I went to Keiko's sushi party and it was fun. I got there a bit
early so I helped set up some. I cut some seaweed sheets into smaller
bits. We hand made sushi for a while. She put so much effort into the
party and it was a huge success. There were about 8 Japanese people
there, some I have seen before others were new to me. We
naturally split into English and Japanese groups. Some of the Japanese
made comments like "oh no I didn't know this was an English party" so
they chatted in Japanese the whole time and we at the other table poke
English. There were some Koriyama ALTs there such as Kathy and Angela,
then Angela's husband who I had just met that day. Also making an
appearance was Barbara, who lives in Koriyama while her husband works
for some company. They are both Danish from Denmark. I should become
better friends with her so I can visit Denmark sometime and get all
the tips. Finally, making a grand entrance, came the Dave-Megan-Zinnia
trio. Zinnia is 9 months old and just starting to walk around. I think
she occasionally recognizes me as uncle Ryan, though she still cries
when I try to hold her. I can make her laugh a little sometimes.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Letís see, this week I turned 37 which was uneventful. Wednesday I
went back and talked to the older lady who speaks English and we
chatted a bit. It was good this time because her husband was in the
basement the whole time. Heís super nice, but he speaks no English so
itís always more Japanese than English when he is there and itís
exhausting. Then Thursday I went to Ohse for 2 fun classes and after
that Megan and Dave had a Thanksgiving gathering at their apartment.
It was great food and good times. I thought we were never going to
actually get to eat because each person had to take their own photo of
everyone in a few different poses.
Iím not complaining per se, itís just a pet peeve of mine.
With digital cameras, it literally takes a fraction of a second to
duplicate the image and email it to someone, and yet whenever there
are several people with cameras they each have to take their own
photo. This time really wasnít so bad, I was just hungry and the food
looked (and smelled) good. The worst was when I came to Japan in í98
and studied Japanese. There was a group of 45 foreigners and 45
Japanese people. When we did big events with everyone and had some
finale group photo there were literally about 90 cameras. I have a
photo of a security guard in the middle of a street with about 30
cameras around him. It was a little sad.
One funny thing about Wednesday that I just remembered was
that there was a teacher meeting during 3rd period in the
principalís office. Any teacher that was not teaching then went into
the meeting, minus me. A minute later, a salesperson came into the
teacherís room and announced who he was and why he was there. Talk
about lousy timing. Then another one came in, finally a 3rd
one came in. They could only give their little speech to the librarian
and then they had to leave and drive all the way back.
I canít decide what to do with some birthday money I
received. I was going to use it toward an iPod, but I had the same
problem I had on payday. I just donít crave it like I thought I would,
maybe because I have one now. Itís just a Nano so itís smaller, but it
works. Then I thought about getting the nice DSLR camera I want, but
it too seems unnecessary. I think I am going to get a cheaper version
of the nice camera. It will be nice having a DSLR.
Tonight I have a year end NT party with Konstantine,
Julia, John, and a guy from the BoE. Iím going to stay in town so I
can drink. Iím looking forward to it since I havenít been out in a
while. Then tomorrow there is another Thanksgiving party at a Koriyama
JETís house in town. That starts at 4 so Iíll only have a few hours to
kill in the morning and early afternoon.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
The party Thursday was quite filling. The NT party last night was a
blast. Our supervisor from the BoE came and drank with us and he is
even more of a hoot when he drinks. I hope he come can to another one
in the winter some time. After that me and two other NTs went to a 2nd
and 3rd party and it was good, but expensive. We went back
to the rock bar with a live band and then to Monkís, the jazz bar.
Both places were good, but expensive. I donít know why I went back to
Monkís since it had a $12 cover on top of the $5 drinks. There was a
band and 3 people there as usual, I donít know how he stays in
In the morning I woke up in the hotel and had the huge
breakfast buffet then I walked around town and looked around. I went
to Aeon Town which is a shopping center and looked at the Nikon D40
DSLR. I swore if it was one yen over $450 I would not buy it. It was
$499 and I bought it. Itís only 6MP, but MP is just a myth to get
people to keep upgrading cameras. The real power is in the lens. If I
can zoom way in and take the photo at the high resolution Iíll get a
better shot than using a 10MP camera. Plus DSLRs use filters and have