Friday, October 01, 2010
have been about 5-7 semi-big earthquakes in my area just within the
past week or so. That’s a little more than usual and starting to
scare me a bit. It feels like the geological tension is building and
releasing more and more. The big Tokyo quake is due soon and I’ve
heard it will be definitely within 20 years. I think it’s already
overdue. I mention this because we are sitting in a teacher’s
meeting (where they are reading memos to us) and a semi-big one just
hit. It only shook for a second, but it was sudden and then leveled
off whereas they usually build up a bit and then level back off.
have a class with the JHS seniors today, but for some reason they are
2-3 weeks behind in their regular English class so I can’t do any
of the lessons I have at the other schools. I have already reviewed
what they know so far many times, so doing that again would be lame.
I really don’t know what to do with them today.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
didn’t do gyoza night last Friday since so many people were going
to the Nagano JET Soccer-Football tournament. It’s not both, just
we silly Americans call soccer football. It actually makes more sense
to call it football since our version of football has nearly nothing
to do with the foot. Ours should be called “touchdown” or
anything else really. So anyway, I’m going to try to do gyoza night
this week. We did have Mexican night and then watch ZombieLand, both
of which were fun. Hopefully this time we can do gyoza making and
then eating. I even bought two frying pans in hopes of speeding up
the cooking process.
Having Trouble with Updates.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Working to resolve the issue,
but all my programs were on the crashed HD from the old computer.
I Truly Don’t Get It.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
school festival is this weekend, well part is Friday and the rest is Sunday. I
will come to it even though it’s my sixth (well 5th last year I went to Ohse). The reason I don’t want to attend is it is literally
the same as every year. There are a few teensy tiny changes, but all the songs
and dances are the same. I simply can’t watch the same thing over and over
again. It’s like watching Indian Bollywood movies where there’s one plot that
they duplicate in every movie.
thing about the festival is that nearly all my classes were canceled this week
so students can prepare for it. I truly don’t understand how unimportant
academia is in Japanese schools. Literally anything can override a lesson.
Sports are probably the number one thing in schools. Anything sports related
will easily take over a day or few. My classes have actually been cut when a PE
lesson took too long and dipped into my class time. A student ran to the class
and said “X sensei said that we are just going to have two periods instead of
the one planned.” There is no response other than “oh that’s fine, yes of
course”. Any other response shows how ignorant I am to their advanced ways and
how inconsiderate I am for not understanding. Another in a long line of things I
truly do not understand.
something else that just came up, though I have mentioned it before. I showed a
short TV show to my JHS students since it’s school festival week and no one
gives a toot about studying, well more so than usual this week. So the show was
a comedy, but the kids didn’t laugh as much at the funny bits as they did at the
absolutely positively NON-funny parts. There was a man talking about something
in a completely not even slightly amusing way. They were on the floor the whole
Today I am
getting ready to go to the dentist for part 3 of 4/5/6 of a root canal. So far
it hasn’t hurt terribly, but has been annoying. Partially because in Japan they
spread it over 4-5 visits and partially because it’s so far away. There are
others that are closer, but this guy speaks English well and I like that with
My diet is not
going well. I have slipped far more than I have stuck with it and I feel even
fatter than before. I need to have one week where I don’t eat stupid stuff. Just
7 days of eating correctly, but that would mean I’d have to take my own lunch to
school since we usually have 1-2 crappy things. Today’s crappy thing was a big
loaf of bread with sugar all over it and that was a good 1/3 of the meal. I ate
the soup and salad thing and literally finished in about 2 minutes. Other days
have a big bowl of rice which usually equals half the meal or some other general
pre-mentioned I might stop eating school lunches to the lunch lady at another
school and she absolutely could not comprehend the thought of that. Why on earth
would I do that? What would I eat instead of lunch? Why would I even imagine
such a thing? I expected the over-reaction and just said I was thinking about
it, but not sure yet. Japanese people cannot believe rice is not the perfect
food. I’m not diabetic, but this page explains a lot about rice and bread.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
the most absurd thing in the history of all things, but it epitomizes the
mentality that annoys me so much here. I was having lunch at a certain unnamed
school. When a certain teacher finished her lunch and went to put the tray and
bowls into the crate/box/thing she noticed the two spoons in the silverware
container were turned in opposite ways, one point left and one pointing the
other way. Rather than do what I assumed to be basic common sense and drop her
spoon in either way, she flipped out and started acting confused. Then she said
“which way do the spoons go?” Another teacher came over and suddenly became
The resolution is
simple. Turn one the same way as the other. End of story. But no, as usual,
things that are inconceivably unimportant to me are mountains in Japan. After a
few minutes 3 teachers were looking at the spoon case and another teacher went
to ask the lunchroom staff which way the spoons went. I simply could not
tolerate this absurdly ridiculous pointless discussion. When I finished my meal
I went over and turned one spoon the other way and put my spoon in. The teachers
gasped at me and mumbled something then followed suit. I can’t even begin to
understand this way of thinking. Honestly, I couldn’t even begin to make
something up like this. It’s like I live in the Twilight Zone sometimes.
I just got
back from part 4 of 4 of the root canal. The whole ordeal was far less painful
than I imagined, but having to go 4 times was annoying. Still it might have been
better than a single 2 hour marathon procedure. That would have sucked. Tonight
he finished off the drilling parts and capped the tooth with cement. Next time
he will take a mold for the crown and then once or so after that he will attach
it. I think I have about 2 more visits until I’m finished. Now it feels and
looks totally normal, like a regular tooth.
I’m going to
visit Hong Kong in November, around my birthday. A friend is having an
international day and needed some Americans and knew I and two others were
thinking of visiting HK so we combined both ideas. I’m also going to be secretly
observing the school system to see if I would like to teach there someday. He
has a great program similar to JET, but minus all the things that suck. Plus the
pay is about double. So more updates on that as they come.
At Ohse JHS
yesterday they were learning “must” and “must not” so I made an activity about
the differences between US schools and Japanese schools. There were T-F
questions such as “In the US you must take off your shoes before entering the
school…T or F”. Most of the students believed the shoe thing was universal and
were surprised to learn that not many (if any) other countries do that. Then
there were questions about school lunches. At first students would laugh at any
difference between cultures since that’s what Japanese people do when something
is different. Then, as we talked about school lunches, they started getting
jealous at things such as 1) you don’t have to eat the school lunch, 2) you can
get more of something or less of another, 3) you can get 2 milks and they can be
various flavors, 4) You can start eating when you want and finish when you want,
5) You can eat as much or as little as you want, and most of all 6) you can get
ice cream when you finish eating. In the end about 3/4ths of the class said they
wanted to go to school in the US. Then we had lunch and everyone ate the same
amount of the same thing. We started and ended at the same time. It was the same
as every other day.
I am in the
process of opting out of all my school lunches since I am trying to lose weight
and avoid white rice, bread, and sugar and all of those make up about 70% of
school lunches. As it is now I eat about half the already pathetic portion of
rice given and always give away the heartburn-bread so my lunches are rather
sad. Furthermore I don’t drink the milk, but Konan still (after 6 years) charges
me for the milk I have never once drunk. I’m just going to bring a few pieces of
chicken, a small salad, and some almonds or something and maybe the pounds will
fly off. It’s funny how people think the school lunches are super healthy here,
when in fact sugar coated bread is most likely not on any food chart. Not eating
rice in Japan is actually quite difficult.
Total Waste of a Day.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Today I am at
Konan and it’s a complete waste of a day. There are no classes, just prepping
for the school festival and some pre-festival stuff in the JHS. This morning
they are playing basketball in the gym and I was told that I would be
participating when I arrived. I quickly responded with “sorry, I will not be
participating.” The correct answer would have been to say something like “oh,
hmmm, well, that would be a little difficult, hmmm, well, I don’t know if I
can……”, but I no longer even attempt to talk in circles and give roundabout
answers to certain things. I don’t play competitive sports and I especially
don’t do it in front of people and I doubly don’t do it in front of students. I
look stupid running around doing things wrong, missing goals, and generally
looking like an idiot. I instantly lose any respect people had for me when I
play sports, especially when some reward is involved.
So I told them my jaw
hurt from the root canal yesterday (which in fact it does not because the
dentist is great), I also said I had a knee injury (which was true 20 years ago)
and finally I told the truth, I simply don’t play sports like that. Then when it
was approaching time for the teachers to play against the students I simply left
the gym and watched the elementary school prepare. I participated once about 4
years ago and it went exactly as I imagined, however I did not expect one thing.
The teachers were the “shirts” team so we had to wear this pullover color
jersey. Said jersey was a JHS student size and stopped above my belly and was
skin tight. It was overall humiliating and I vowed to never participate in that
The teachers kicked
the students’ collective butts at basketball, with no thanks to me not
participating. There are three young teachers who are really into basketball,
really athletic, and really competitive so they stomped the kids hardcore. The
seniors put up a good fight, but 20+ years of experience won in the end. It was
nice. I wished I were able to get out there and join in and maybe slam dunk it
occasionally, but I have come to realize my limitations and stayed away from the
gym. I knew they didn’t like it, but I absolutely loathe competitive sports in
front of people.
I’ve been wandering
around the halls doing nothing really. Just watching the elementary kids prepare
for their skits on Sunday and wasting time. I have some computer things to do,
but I will do those things after lunch. I might opt of the school lunch later
today after I prepare for that long discussion. Seriously it’s just an “oh, ok”
answer, but they have to drag it on and on and on.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Today I came to Kozu,
the small elementary school with 21 kids TOTAL. Usually I have at least 3
classes and sometimes 4. Today I had 2. So after lunch, for about 4 hours, I
will just sit here doing nearly nothing. Although in all honesty, I did know
this long wasted day was coming and prepared for it so I got some things done in
the morning. I have some more things to do, but I get so sleepy in the
Well now it’s 3pm and
all the kids just left so I have nothing to do for an hour and 15 minutes, but
it ends up being the longest hour and 15 minutes in the history of the world.
Well maybe if I were going to be executed and they said it would be in an hour
and 15 minutes, that might feel longer, but there’s so little to do here and
this computer is so amusingly slow, tat everything goes by so slow. That was a
I haven’t opted
out of any lunch officially yet, but I told the lunch lady at Ohse I would
stopping in November. I’ll also tell them I will eat in the teacher’s room since
I am sick of sitting with 7th & 8th graders who just giggle about stupid things the whole time.
Tomorrow I go to Konan
to have 4 hypothetical classes. I say that because today is a holiday there
since Sunday was the school festival. That means Tuesday morning will be devoted
to cleaning up the gyms and other parts of the school so assume, even though I
see classes on the schedule, that some will be cancelled and used for stupid
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
The school festival
was Sunday and I went for the morning and left around 1:30. It was literally the
same as every year which is hard for me to enjoy. The most annoying thing is how
inefficiently produced it is. I understand the kids do most of the planning and
execution, but still some things just don’t make any sense. Placing
walls/desks/blockades/etc in places that will clearly be in the way is common.
Having 2-3 fast upbeat performances and then something really deathly slow and
boring just makes me want to scream. There was one thing like this that made me
laugh, but it sucked for the students doing it.
They were doing the
obligatory presentations on how terrible the Nagasaki and Hiroshima (unprovoked)
bombings were. They always focus on how terrible the mere thought of using
atomic bombs is, but never mention anything about how Japan was working on its
own atomic program. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_nuclear_weapon_program . So two kids gave speeches about the environment and then Nagasaki. Then the
teacher running the projector computer accidentally skipped ahead to the 1st grader’s presentation which was a high energy soccer skit. They were dressed up
really cute and the music started blaring and they came bursting into the gym
clapping. All the parents started cheering and clapping and the teacher said
some things on the mic to get everyone up and into it. Everyone was on top of
the world. Then they realized they had skipped one more presentation about
Hiroshima and had the kids go back to the hall to wait. The girl went out and
talked about Hiroshima in the lowest and most uninteresting possible voice
imaginable. It was the longest 10 minutes in the history of the world. Everyone
was talking full volume constantly since they were so bored. It was a mistake,
but they could have easily fixed it. Put all the presentations in ONE folder and
name them 1-Hiroshima, 2-Nagasaki, etc. Instead they had them all over the
computer and had to search for them each time, all the while we were watching
since it was on the projector.
Another annoyance was
a teacher said he wanted to show the video I made with the seniors in the gym.
Wow, that’s great. He said they were showing it now so I went down to see how it
looked and see the parents’ reaction. I went to the gym and couldn’t find it so
I assumed it had finished. Then I saw it in the back of the gym in a small
corner being projected on the wall. Seconds later kids ran past it and tripped
over the projector power cable so it shut off and stopped playing.
The final annoyance
was how they never use the person who is most qualified for something to do that
something when it is needed. For example, a few years ago when the teachers
changed in April we got a semi-famous teacher who is well known for being a
great soccer player. He coached or played on some big regional team and is great
at soccer. So did he coach soccer when he came? Nope. There was already a soccer
coach. A fat lazy teacher who sat in his car smoking and telling the kids to run
laps and then practice by themselves. We lost every game and possibly never
scored once. The annoyance this year was that they asked some teacher with ZERO
video experience to make the opening video. He had to learn Windows Movie Maker
and he made something that looked very beginner. Everyone here knows I make
videos and knows I can do a much better job, but he was asked. Had they even
said I could assist then I would have made something awesome and given him full
credit. That has happened several times where an expert at something isn’t
chosen and the actual worst possible choice is chosen.
Ok, so then
around 1 I started to go home, but stopped on the way to go to the picnic for
the place I moonlight at occasionally.
I've found a way to update the site, though it is slower than the old way. So maybe I can make updates faster than I have been these past few weeks. Although it is apparently changing all the font sizes to something stupid.
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