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Japan is soooo GREEN.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009

            When I reconnected with someone on Facebook recently and she found out I lived in Japan she said the standard phrases: ďOh wow, Japan is such a magical place, the people are so kind and polite, it must be amazing to live there. I saw a report recently that Japan was one of the greenest countries in the world (referring to environmentally friendly).Ē Well letís just see how green they are. Here is a rundown of the memos on my desk since Friday:

1) A handwritten newspaper of the events for December.
2) A handwritten newspaper of the events for December from the student council.
3) A typed newspaper from the homeroom teacher of the 7th graders talking about things they did
     during November.
4) A typed newspaper from the homeroom teacher of the 8th graders talking about things they did
     during November.
5) A typed newspaper from the homeroom teacher of the 9th graders talking about things they did
     during November.
6) 2 copies of a chart showing whatís happening each day of December from the lead teacher.
7) The menu for December (not a menu as in we can choose, just what we are having).
8) A 10-page Łber-secret memo on the results of the recent tests for all grades.
9) A memo on ďhow to NOT catch the fluĒ. It does not mention circulating the air in the rooms.
10) A copy of this weekís schedule.
11) A copy of this weekís events day by day.
12) A 2nd updated copy of this weekís schedule.
13) A 2nd updated copy of this weekís events day by day.

14) 2 separate newspaper articles relating to the school and/or Fukushimaís education system.

            All that since Friday and itís a fair summary of what I get on Tuesdays. Usually there are 3-5 memos on my desk, but around the first of the month there are more. There are 23 sheets (13 + the 10 page one), but multiply that by 60 for each one. That includes all the teachers, all the administrators, all the staff, and multiple copies for each classroom (minus the test results). Everyone who is part of the group must be informed, even if it in no way relates to them. Thatís 1380 copies that were made in Green Japan over 3 business days. Hereís why I laugh at this:

#1 through #13 could be put on a web page on our internal server and we could read it on our screens.

#14 could either be NOT copied or copied once and enlarged and put on a bulletin board.

            However, these suggestions A) make sense and B) take away a job from someone of copying and distributing all the memos. I truly and sincerely believe we have a paper quota that we must meet every week/month/year. It makes no sense to copy this much stuff. Whatís worse is that when we have a staff meeting and each get 50,000 copies regarding the meeting, they are then ALL READ TO US. Put them on the server and let us read them (be read to) from there. There is actually one meeting in March where we do read things off the server, WHY canít we do that for all these things?

[end rant]

            Yesterday I went to Kozu Elem (coe zoo) (28 kids) and had 3 classes. One was good since it was 1-20 and I have a good plan for that, but the two others were so-so. Well the one I planned completely was good in the sense that the kids really used the target language in context and really remember it. The other one used that stupid worthless English Note(book) that the Ministry of Education forced on people. I know people like to complain about things like that, but I can usually see both sides. Our textbooks arenít perfect, but I have no real complaints about them. They teach things like ďyou mustnít do thatĒ which is probably correct English, but I never say that. But this English Note book is awful.

            Yesterday we did ďdirectionsĒ so I pre-taught the stuff and had told the teacher we donít need the EN and I would prepare everything. So I get there and all the kids have their EN out and are ready to go. I teach part of it and then decide to appease him by doing an exercise from the book. I asked if he had the CD so he put it in and pressed play. The people started talking full speed about where to go. It was (in Japanese Ė Find the person and follow the directions to his destination) then in English (Hi, Iím Bob. Where am I going? Go straight- Go straight-turn right-Go straight-go back-stop. Where am I? I couldnít even follow it and we had no idea what to do. Then we had to sing a stupid, stupid chant that was also too fast. Clearly when they wrote this they used their own advisors with no actual teaching practice since itís not even close to a good resource. Furthermore, it is designed to replace the foreign teacher. If I am there all I do it press play and pause on the CD.

            Today I am at Konan with one whopping class. Itís the demon class, but I am going to try to have them play with my foam letters. I fear they will put them in their pants or throw them or steal them, but I am trying to be optimistic. Iím also going to have them write letters on other peopleís backs using their fingers. Next week I have another class with them and then a 2 hour class on the 15th. They are going to make Christmas cards that day which is usually the only thing that keeps them calm. Doing crafts I mean, not specifically Christmas cards.


      The lead ďdemonĒ wasnít there so the class went relatively well. I might go so far as to say it was the best one yet, though still not good by normal standards. My standards are low for this class. When we were trying to start class one group to the left were just chatting away. The teacher said be quiet a few times and then the class leader of the day also said be quiet a few times, but they couldnít hear that because they were chatting away. They werenít being rude, just chatting. Two girls even had their backs turned to us. Thatís pretty standard for this class. The teacher is a nice guy, but not strict and it shows. Some teachers are nice, but firm and they always have great classes. My current all time favorite class is the second grade at Tadano Elementary. They have a great teacher who reviews what I teach on days Iím not there. She is really preparing them for the future.

Sunday, boring Sunday.
Sunday, December 06, 2009

            I had to come to school today for an observed class day, even though Iím not presenting nor do I have anything to do other than type this. I donít entirely mind coming in on Sunday since Iíll get Monday off, but I donít really like driving all this way for nothing to do. The worst part is there are only two classes and then I think all the kids go home. Yes, checking the board now and it shows grades 1-6 leave by noon and the JHS kids stay until 4 doing club stuff. I wish the grades 1-6 kids stayed since there are some I like to play with. Iím not even going to say hang out with, since they are playing and Iím joining in or playing with them. Thatís a perk to this job, most of the time I am just playing with kids or acting stupid in class (while teaching them). I rarely have to be serious.

            Since some families brought both parents and may not have a grandparent to watch their younger children, there are some young kids running around. Their older brothers and sisters are reciting folk tales from Konan that they have memorized and many parents are here watching. Some of these younger kids are running around screaming and completely disrupting everything, but no one says anything. There are no punishments or consequences here and this is apparently not rude behavior. Iíd like to have a kid just so I can loudly say ďRocky Jr, sit down and be quiet, itís rude to run around yelling like you are an ignorant rude child with no caring parents. Come over here and sit down and be quiet and stop disturbing other parents, that would be rude.Ē They still wouldnít get it. Iíve actually heard parents tell their kids it was ok to stare at the foreigner (me).

            Speaking of serious, one serious thing, which is stupidly annoying and I hate it completely is that we use name stamps instead of signatures. Of course the name stamps arenít cheap and we need 2-3. Itís a total pain and the world comes to an end when you lose it, which I HAVE. I faintly remember taking it home in some bag, but I have searched everywhere and it is not at home nor in my desk at school. Now I am going to order 3 to have one at home, one at school, and one at the Board of Education since they use it to stamp stuff for us all the time.

            Thereís a prime example of why I donít like it. What if someone steals it and uses it to do something? You canít do that with a signature, but you can with a name stamp. Someone said that Japanese people use kanji and if they signed things with kanji people would be able to easily copy it since it would just be lines. Well that argument is garbage since we too can write in block letters, but we sign using a cursive script. Furthermore, you can write kanji in a cursive script, thatís what some famous calligraphers. Kanji could easily be written in a way to resemble a signature, or people could write their names in hiragana which is all flowing curvy lines. But they use a name stamp because they always have and no one wants to stand out and say ďhey, maybe this isnít the best methodĒ. Here's a chart showing kanji written first in computer font block lettering then progressing down to the impossible handwritten style which could easily be a signature. "But you can't read it." You can't read my signature either. It's an 'R', something like a 'y' then a tail.

            Wednesday I went to Tadano and had 4 classes which went well. The 3rd graders played with some foam letters I bought and then look at a Christmas drawing with letters hidden. The 5th graders played the ever popular review game called Typhoon. The 6th graders did a country game called ď__ is famous for ___Ē. I didnít want to teach that since itís useless for them now and they actually learn it as 8th graders. I get really frustrated when I am given a topic to teach and sometimes directions on how to teach it by people that donít even speak English. I could never in a million years imagine having a Chinese or Greek exchange teacher and giving them a plan of A) what to teach in the order I chose and B) giving them a detailed plan of an activity to use. Especially if I donít speak their language. I imagine I would say ďhere are some things we want them to know. Could you develop a year plan and submit it to me?Ē But Japan is not about the end result, they are about the process. WE made a plan and WE followed through with it. Whatís the end result? Who cares, we made the plan and followed it through. Letís pat each other on the back and say well done (although we did nothing in the end).

            Iíve had to use the book I hate a few times recently. Again, thatís like having a foreign teacher, who natively speaks the target language, come to your school and stand by the CD player and press play and pause. I wouldnít mind if it were the greatest teaching aid in the world, but it is actually flat out awful. They recently did an Australian voice and it was like a Jim Carrey imitation of Steve Irwin. There were some exaggerated ďGíday mate, letís put a shrimp on the barby, is that a kangaroo and a koala?Ē Well not that bad, but really insulting and Iím not even Australian. The argument FOR the book from someone was that the kids really enjoy listening to the funny voices and that makes them like English. AHA, another example of Japan not caring about the end result (fluency) and only caring about the process there (no one feeling stressed).

            Then Thursday I went to Ohse and had 4 classes in the morning and left after lunch. The 4 classes were 2 of 1st and 3rd grades. For the 1st grade (7th graders really) I made a conversation like the one in the book and copied it twice on a page then cut the pages in half using an exaggerated cut like a cartoon paper. I made 12 conversations and duplicated them so there were 12 unique ones and 12 copies. Then I had them walk around and make pairs and read through each line seeing if it matched. For the 3rd graders (9th graders) I made up something on the way to class more or less. One side of the class was red and one was white and they had to make questions to ask the other side. The question was a missile and they were attacking the other side. It seemed to be planned out and went well. I left early to search for my stupid name stamp.
Photo: Previously mention foam letters.

            Friday I went back to Kozu for the second time in one week which was strange. When I got there I greeted all the classes as usual and said ďlong time no seeĒ and they laughed. It was a special day and they had observed classes 5th period. I taught from that stupid English book again, but used a second period to play my own dice game that the kids loved. They had to roll a special die that I made with six countries on it. Itís a box I made about 2 inches square or maybe bigger, I forgot how big an inch is. Itís a folder cut up and folded into a box then the images are glued on and finally it was wrapped with clear tape. Apart from stepping on it, they could throw it around and not break it. Then I had my observed class teaching ďsportsĒ to the 3-4th graders. We also reviewed days of the week, months, and 1-20 and they remembered it all.

            After the observed class there was a Christmas cake workshop with all the students and their parents (mostly mothers) in the Home Ec room. The cakes were good and had nothing stupid in them like shrimp or raisins. One type was a fruitcake and the other was a chocolate cake. Someone brought their 3 year old son and he was running around being loud and disrupting everything, but thatís apparently acceptable. For a while he was running around with a big knife and I just avoided him. His mother saw it and smiled and said nothing. WOW, I cannot believe the differences in child raising techniques. He didnít get hurt and put the knife down, but I think that was the 1 in 100 chance of him not getting hurt.

            Last night I had a small movie night, but it wasnít planned very well. That was completely my fault, but next time I will do better. We watched ďA Christmas StoryĒ with Ralphie and Randy and the Daisy Red Ryder Pump Action BB Gun on the projector. Then I showed them some videos I made and some other things. Keiko brought some pizza and Barbara brought a salad, but I think the salad had something in it I am allergic too since I have had a weird feeling since I ate it. I am allergic to Lecithin and it causes me to get slightly short of breath. I felt like that last night, but I am mostly better now. The new thing I have is a dry throat. I get like that easily in dry air. I should be able to get over this with no problem if I keep my throat moist.

[Afternoon 1:00ish]

            Now we are having a teacherís meeting. I assume it will last about an hour. At the moment the principal is reading a memo to us. So we get duplicates of all the memos and then they are read to us. They pulled down the screen and are projecting the memos that were copied and distributed and are being read to us. I wish someone would give me a shoulder massage and translate everything that is being said into my ear. I mean since we are being absurdÖ

            Iíve been productive today. I went to a classroom to watch one class do the folk tales for about 5 minutes then came back and worked on various computer things. I made another ďThere Is Ė There AreĒ worksheet. Where Ďthere areí for images nearly identical and students have to explain each one and find the two that match.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

            I went to the hospital for my monthly check up and the results werenít great. Thatís a bit odd since last month they were much better and I had eaten Indian food late the night before and had Starbucks a few days before. Yesterday was a school holiday and I stayed in and ate vegetables all day, but I think I might know what caused it. I missed a few pills over the weekend and then Monday I did take a lot of cough tablets. Not because I had a cough, but more because my throat was dry and starting to get sore. Oh well, maybe I can start eating better and get in shape. Thatís going to be my singular goal of the year.

            When I got to school the principal said there was a new student in the JHS and he would only be here for two weeks. He wanted me to meet him and talk to him, which seemed odd since I have never been asked that before. I went into his office (the principalís office, the new student has no office) and said konnichiwa and he replied ďHello, I lived in England for 6 yearsĒ. BOOYA. Wow thatís a shame heís only here for two weeks, it would be fun to have someone to chat with natively. Heís really going to be bored here I think. He was telling me about his weekly schedule and he said it included Latin, French, English Grammar, and several other regular school classes. Here we are learning ďthere is, there areĒ. So yea, heís going to be bored, but hooray to his parents who have set him up for success in life. If he can speak English, French, and Japanese fluently, he can get any job he wants in Japan.

            Oh, while at the doctor I had him look at a rash on my foot which appears to be something called Zoster or also Shingles. Itís a small patch of redness that doesnít itch, but clearly isnít right. He suggested I come back on a different day and see a dermatologist which is what I plan to do during the winter break. I might also go to a dentist and have them look at this gaping hole where a cavity fell out 5 years ago. Yes, thatís sad I know, but it doesnít hurt. I feel like I need to have it looked since itís clearly not right.

           I should be able to make a bigger update tomorrow since I go to Konan which means lots of sitting. I have 2 classes, but one is 2 hours. It's with the demon class, but they are making Christmas cards so maybe they will be quiet for a while.

Gregor Samsa.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

            Yesterday I went to Ohse and was more or less paid to read Kafka for much of the day. I had three classes in the morning, but two were the same and all three were review. For the 1st years (7th graders) we played a battleship style game use ďCan You ___Ē. Students would randomly pick 10 spaces and ask their partner ďcan youĒ and then choose an activity from the left and a timeframe from the top. If it was a hit they would reply ďyes I canĒ and likewise, ďno I canítĒ for a miss. For the 8th graders I made a Read & Do game where some students read a description of a scene and other students had to recreate it. It was for ďthere is / there areĒ and preposition practice. It went great and was fast paced which is what I think you need to learn a language. When you donít have time to remember you canít speak a language you end up just speaking it.

            Regarding KafkaÖ.hmmmÖ.maybe I am not as deep as the story, but it was only ok to me. I felt like it was good-great at the beginning, but fizzled toward the end. When I flipped the last page I was stunned to see I was at the end. There was some conflict and some problems, but then he just died and his family got on a train and started talking about their daughters young nubile body. Hmmm, what? Maybe the ending had to do with his situation in life and just giving up or it being hopeless. Plus I couldnít reallstupid statuey figure out how big he was as an insect. Sometimes he couldnít fit through the door, but then he hid under the couch quite a lot. It wasnít a bad read, though it was written in what í15 or í20 and in German so Iím sure some things were lost in translation.

            Itís the end of the year which means itís time for any left over money to be spent and that usually means on absurd completely unneeded or overly excessive construction projects. One year they built a wood deck that connects the two buildings at Konan. It was needed, but they built it to survive a nuclear war. It sits on a 3 foot deep concrete slab and is bolted to it about every 6 inches. This year it means they installed a previously mentioned statue in the middle of the kidsí play area. Not only is it a stupid location, the statue is a boy riding a pelican and choking it to death. It truly looks like a joke statue making fun of something, but itís real. Also they are building a small bypass in a really tight curvy area of the road to Konan, thatís needed, but they are only working on it with end of the year money so they built half this year and maybe the rest next year. It literally juts out and just stops in the middle of a grassy area. A few years ago they built a tunnel that bypasses a cwasteful Japanese construction spendingurvy area. Iím no engineer, but it seems to me that they could have easily gone around the mountain and built a bridge connecting two areas, but they built a costly tunnel instead. At Ohse they are redoing the pool. I asked the English teacher how often the pool is used and he said about one week during the spring. Same with Konan and the fabulous new indoor pool, which gets maybe 2-3 weeks usage in the spring. It would make sense for it to be used in the winter (being indoor and heated) by local senior citizens for water-aerobics, but since it makes sense the idea was laughed at.


Starting to get sick of the nonsense.
Friday, December 18, 2009

            Iíve been putting up with certain stupid Japanese behaviors for nearly 8 years and itís starting to take its toll. I find myself getting more and more vocal about some things that make no sense. Today it snowed heavily and I got to school late. I called on the way and explained it. It was mostly my fault for leaving at the last minute of my window of departure times, but also because everyone was driving ultra-slow. So I get here and the vice principal is walking around and sees me and comes to my desk. He points to a note that says 21-konan and explains that there was some communication with the BoE and they said I was to come to Konan on Monday instead of taking ďspecial studyĒ leave like it was marked on the schedule. Iíve already made plans that involve other people on Monday, PLUS, and this is the big thing, I have no classes. You want me to drive in this blizzard for an hour to come out here and SIT on a day which should be a holiday? NÖNO.

            So I quickly said, without even listening to what he was saying, Iíll just take vacation time. He scoffed a bit since Japanese people never take vacation. Not even if they are sick, or if their wives are giving birth, or for any reason really. All the teachers are going to drive out here everyday during the break and SIT DOING NOTHING. They get a week off around new yearís, but all the other days they will be here sitting and playing solitaire or doing some of the redundant unnecessary paperwork.

            He mumbled at the idea of me taking vacation time, but I kept saying ďso I should drive out here in the snow just to sit all day? That sounds wasteful.Ē Thatís a very non-Japanese thing to actually say since they donít find it wasteful at all. For the Japanese, when the group is a whole it is the strongest so they constantly want everyone to always be there. Maybe in case we are attacked by another school, we will be at our strongest. For me, it makes less than .00023 of a fraction of an atom of one bit of sense to drive here, or even just be here in the case of having perfected teleportation, when there is nothing to do. If I have to be somewhere thatís not my apartment, I would prefer to be doing something at some school or even the BoE. I donít actually want to be at home, just not here doing nothing.

            I am really getting vocal about how stupidly wasteful some things are here. I could never in a million years imagine having a Japanese exchange teacher come to a high school that I teach at in the US and saying ďoh you only come here once a week and we should really take advantage of your native speaking voice and insider tips, but the fact is we are so fluent in Japanese that we donít need your services. Just sit at your desk ranting in your blog all day or read some Kafka or surf the web using our extremely limited and highly restricted web connection.Ē Thatís what happens to me at half the schools I go to. Yesterday I had 3 classes out of 6 periods. The English teachers went to some other classes during my free periods and I have told them several times I would be happy to go to all 6 periods a day, but it was decided that my time would be better spent cutting out and folding truncated octahedrons rather than doing anything in the classroom. Iím really getting annoyed at how little they care about wasting my time. Especially when nearly no one that graduates can make a comprehensible English sentence.

            Another annoyance is a cause of why no students can actually produce English. They are good at receptive skills such as reading or listening (to a degree and it must be almost identical to the target sentences they learned), but they canít actually produce anything. Thatís because they never have to actually produce English. They repeat it quite often, but I could repeat Arabic or Greek most likely. Their listening skills arenít really that great either and thatís because itís a horrific monstrosity if a student feels slightly uneasy about learning English. To counter this many teachers just give them either the answers or such blatant hints that they can figure out the answers. Yesterday I gave the students a listening gambling quiz. I would say some hint and they would write their answer then make a bet then I gave the answer. This worked great for most, but a few times the teacher would give them absurd hints. For example, one hint was ďthis is a machine that is used to talk to people. You have it in your house. ď I read it a few times and some groups got it, but some didnít. Then the teacher started making a telephone gesture with his hand. WELL DUH? Why bother listening if you are about to get the answers. Then the kids started looking at me while I spoke, then immediately to the teacher for the mega-hint. So then I tried to make a scene about it and say ďsince he GAVE you the answer you get only half pointsĒ, but that didnít work since he did it almost every time. Not to spite me, just because thatís how things are done in Japan. Itís more about the process of getting there than the end result (fluency).

ramen mixing drill            There have been times in elementary school classes where I had to shush the teacher several times. For a while in one grade I was doing a listening quiz before each class. There were 5 words and I would say them in English. Students were to write either the English letters, the alphabet of Japanese letters that were use for phonetic sounds, or the Japanese meaning. Invariably the teacher, who is nice and caring and I like her, would give some absurd hint. If I said ďdogĒ she would make the dogís voice. Then I started subtly saying ďok no Japanese, donít say any Japanese, no one, not one single person, at all, no oneĒ trying to imply that the students shouldnít say the answers if they knew them, but I would also ask the teacher ďok senseiĒ and she would say ok and do it anyway. Itís like telling someone ďdonít breatheĒ. They might say ok, but they will breathe anyway since thatís what you do. Photo: an industrial drill attached to a boat propeller that is used to mix ramen stock at a nearby ramen shop. It was as loud as it looks.

            Twice this week there was a teacherís meeting at a school and it would have made perfect sense for them to send me home early, but they donít care about wasting my time. Once was at Ohse on Monday and the second time was at Tadano Elem. At Ohse I was just stuck there in the teacherís room while it went on, but I left at 4:30 while they were talking. Then at Tadano on Wednesday I thought she was sending me home when she said ďwe are having a meeting now so happy new year since I wonít see you until then.Ē But they had the meeting in another room so I had to sit, alone, in the teacherís room for an hour and 15 minutes. Hmmm, just send me home for the love of all that is sacred.

            Tonight I have a Christmas party to attend and I need to bring a used gift to re-gift (thatís the actual plan which is smart I think) and some food. At these things people always bring crap like drinks or bread or salad and then you have no real meal. Iím going to try to bring something of substance like a casserole or quesadillas or some meat product. I have some tortillas and I made impromptu quesadillas last night and they were good. Itís not really Christmas-like, but it would be filling for 10 people. Maybe Iíll make 5-6 and cut them up into triangles.

            Earlier today that new student that speaks fluent English gave a violin recital during the break between 2-3 periods. He was amazing and I assumed he was gifted, but when I asked him later about it he said that he wasnít gifted at all. In England at his previous school they had to give recitals often. There he learned Latin and French and often gave speeches as well. Here students barely learn English and never have to stress themselves out with the horrid thought of using what they learn. They semi-learn instruments as well, but only give small recitals playing simple things as a group, rarely solo. Heís going to be so bored back here where the standards are so low. Iíve never heard of one person advancing a grade for excelling nor anyone being held back for not doing anything. Everyone graduates together, itís just a waiting game.

Festive and Quaint.
Sunday, December 20, 2009

            I went to a nice party on Friday at Megan and Dave's apartment. Their daughter Zinnia is getting more friendly towards me which is nice.  The party had about 10 people or so and there was so much good food. It was a better mix than last year. I forgot the aforementioned re-gift. I got in late from school on Friday and had to rush to prepare my dishes for the night and then leave early to walk over there (since there is no parking anyway). While there I gave Keiko my gifts which were the photographs of her recital. She put in so much work I couldn't just give her a DVD of all the photos which she would then have to sort out or print. Instead I put each performer's shots on a CD with some other group related shots. I even scanned the cover of her program and put that in the CD case with the student's name on it. Then I set up a new domain name for her which is www.keiko-piano.com. She already had a site, but the URL was wicked long and complicated. She was happy. By the end of the night I was not happy as I ate way too much since it's always good food there. I had a piece of incredible pumpkin pie and some awesome cookies. I plan to copy her hummus recipe too. The whole night was festive and quaint.

So Productive.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009

            I had a fajita party last night with about 7 people over. We ate through a good 20 or so of the tortillas John gave me recently. I still have 30 left so maybe I will have a quesadilla night soon as well. Before that I got so much done. I mean for one day I got literally more done than I did in the month preceding that one day. There were things that I have been putting off for weeks, if not months, and I managed to knock most everything off the list, at least all the big stuff. Here's what I did:

1) I sent two big boxes of old used books to a bookstore in Tokyo.
2) I sent a big box of stuff to the US. Things to keep, but aren't needed here.
3) I bought a needed kerosene heater  (and bought kerosene).
4) I bought 100 new year cards which are a required kind thought thing here.
5) Had the oil changed in the Pajero Jr.
6) Had the snow tires put on ( a tad late ).
7) I paid for all of 2nd term for Tadano lunch money and the extension school.
8) I bought all the needed things for fajita night (though we ran out of chicken early)
9) I paid the wicked late water bill and got the auto-withdraw form.
10) I bought a cheap room lamp and weight scale to remind me of my grotesque obesity.

           Today I did a few more errands such as laundry and picked up some cards that Tadano students made. I'm about to go back out and say "I did a good job" to the BoE which is required. It seems like having 26 people constantly disturbing you would be annoying, but it's apparently crucial that we each say the exact same line to the head of the BoE. Then I will eat dinner with the yoga teacher that I might be interested in as well as a few more minor things. I also put my big computer back in the spare room since it takes up too much space in the main room. I had planned to get some new glasses, get a roof rack for the car, possibly tint the windows, and a few other things, but those will have to wait.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

            It's been two weeks of winter vacation and I've stayed busy for the most part. There's another week, but people will start coming back from their vacations so it won't be as lonely. So far I've gotten so many little things done that I had been putting aside for months. I listed most above, but I've gotten even more done since then. This week I downloaded a trial version of Adobe After Effects and I have been watching some videos about how to use it. I want to buy the program which is for special effects and motion graphics, but it costs $800 so I'm going to play with the trial version for a bit and then see what happens around next payday. I know I can't afford it, but I can wish.

           Tonight I went to a party at the Mexican place. There were all of two people there including me. I ate the dinner and had a few drinks while watching Japan's version of Ultimate Fighting, K-1. It was boring so I ended up leaving about 9:30 and riding my bike home in a blizzard, which was not fun in the least. There was some major fire or accident somewhere since all the fire trucks passed me while I was on the main road. I'll probably go to sleep early and not even watch the countdown. I remember when I cared about that. Something I am looking forward to is getting some new year's cards tomorrow morning. That's a Japanese tradition I like and I sent out 120 or so. All my current teachers at my two JHS's and one to all teachers at the two other schools since I didn't know their home addresses. I also sent some to various students and one card to each grade at some of the schools. I don't know how many I will get, but I am looking forward to it.

         But in general, staying here alone over the break was not a good idea. I had no money so no real choice, but in the future I will plan better. I plan to really make some changes this year. Not too many, just a few big ones. Mainly paying down (or off) my big school loan and losing some serious weight. Getting to at least 100kg would be great. This year I'm not setting 50,000 goals I won't keep. Just these two. Engage warp engines, make it so number one.


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