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Getting Worried.
Friday, October 01, 2010

         There 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.

         I 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.


Gyoza Revisited?
Tuesday, October 05, 2010

         We 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

         The 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.

         The other 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.

         Here’s 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 time.

         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 medical stuff.

         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 crappy thing.

         I 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.

Ho-Hum.
Thursday, October 14, 2010

         I witnessed 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 equally confused.

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 again.

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.


 

4 Hours.
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 afternoon.

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 run-on sentence.

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 cleaning.


 

Festival.
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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