Tuesday, February 5th, 2008
I had my follow up health check today. Oddly, I went alone. I think
the nurse had something to do, which is fine since there was no reason
for her to be there this time. Anyway, I didn’t eat after 6 last night
and exercised a little this morning. Then I took the blood test and,
the title gave it away, the results were much better. One this was
perfectly inline with the standard limits, and the others were getting
really close. I got another month’s supply of medicine and plan to
keep working out as hard as I have been. It would be nice to be thin
(thinner) for a summer. It’s been 10+ years since I was. Wait….ah…I
mean nearly 20 years. ARGH. I guess it was around age 21 when I gained
weight, maybe slightly before that.
February 6th, 2008
The two 8th grade teachers (the grade to which I am
attached) are meeting with a travel representative to finalize plans
for the senior trip to Osaka and Kyoto in the spring. That’s pretty
much the first thing the seniors do in the first term and the rest of
the term is dedicated to preparing for the sports festival. Academia
comes later. Anyway they are meeting with the guy and, even though I
am attached to that grade, I am pretty sure I’m not going. The reason
I say that is not that I am being negative, it’s because they won’t
give me a straight answer.
I will ask if I am going with them and it’s always, “we’re not sure”.
Well the thing about that is you can’t ask a travel agent for prices
and reservations and just say “some people”. They want real numbers.
Did you include me in that number, if so say “we are planning on you
going, but there may be issues with ____________”. That’s a totally
different answer than “we’re not sure”. Since the Japanese are vague
and non-confrontational I have recognized that as meaning “no, but we
don’t want to say that”. I will be happily surprised if I get to go
I went to the gym last night and my weight is down to 104 kilos, which
is about XX depending on the daily exchange rate. My current goal is
100 kilos which is about 220 pounds. Then I will readjust it to
something else like 95. They said my ideal body weight is 76 kilos
(167 lbs) at my health check, but that is absurd. I would fly away in
a wind storm. I’ll be happy around 90, maybe 85. 85k = 187 lbs, 90k =
198 lbs. There’s also a matter of a local Koriyama marathon that I
actually might be able to enter. Then I have to climb Mt Fuji again
(did I just actually type that…..) since I didn’t make it to the top
because I was so fat and slow. I was a fat greasy slab of stretched
out stench lard. Man that felt good to say (in the past tense).
February 7th, 2008
The “no more paper spoon” campaign is still going strong. We had
pudding today and used the regular metal spoon that we used for the
other meat-soup product we ate. Using that same spoon always made
sense to me, but until now we always had to use separate spoons. I
didn’t know why, nor did I really care. So then the student council
launched a rebellious campaign to stop the use of them because we have
such a “green” goal in mind. Two funny things about that are:
1) They sent out about 10 memos to all the teachers letting us know
each step of the way.
There’s a huge paper poster on
a wall with our demands “No More Paper Spoons” in Japanese.
2) it was never rebellious. The SC had to politely ask
if the it would be remotely possible for
the lunch staff to allow this change.
They met a few times, then the lunch ladies met
and talked about it, then the
administration met with the LL and the SC. Finally it was agreed
that this would be acceptable. The SC
couldn’t do this without making sure it was ok with
everyone. I’ve always thought a
Japanese riot would be like “we are not going to tolerate
this anymore, we demand a change (if
that’s ok and convenient with all parties involved and
all the paperwork has been
During lunch I pushed my milk off to the side as usual. At the end of
the meal I asked a teacher if she wanted the milk. She immediately
started to laugh and said something like “ha ha ha, do I want a second
milk…oh my I can’t believe such a thing”. To me that was completely
absurd as it was a yes or no question and I didn’t ask if she would
loan me $600, but to her it must have been a variable (since we are
only allotted one milk each) and laughing was the only way she could
respond to my question. Everyday they give me a milk and everyday I
put it off to the side and I think everyday it goes back to the
kitchen and probably gets thrown away.
February 8th, 2008
Paula had her observed class like all the other Native Teachers have
done since September. It was interesting and she had some ideas I am
going to implement. Most of the things I learn from the other NTs
require massive change for my school and vice versa. Since there are
1-2 classes per grade (of 17 to 22 kids) as opposed to 10-12 (of 30+
kids) at other schools, things obviously go different. One thing she
did which I liked was to have the kids learn little skits and perform
them in class. Ones that are learnable and presentable wholly within
the class period.
After that we all (minus John whose wife just had a baby girl) went to
lunch and chatted about our futures. Our boss, who was at the observed
class as well, mentioned in the traditional Japanese way of being
vague and never really getting to a point, that teacher's salaries are
going down and the number if staff is going down and changes will be
made in the future. I can't imagine how tight things are when they
currently don't heat buildings until the insides reach near freezing
already. He also mentioned some regular teachers (who get a fat on
month salary x 4.7 bonus) are complaining about how our salaries
aren't going down. Here are some things they failed to remember:
1) we don't get the
2) we don't, nor have never, gotten a raise. One teacher makes the
same as she did 10 years ago.
3) we aren't from here, our families live far away. We are fish out of
4) we aren't here on a permanent basis.
If a Japanese teacher
came to the US, I would expect him/her to make more money than other
teachers at his/her level because of these 4 things.
Then I went to the gym for a powerhouse leg workout. I'm still losing
weight, little by little, each time I go. I'm also feeling better and
the best thing is the BoE is pleased with the effort I have made to
get in shape and improve my blood tests (which they did and will be
improved even more next time. But the reason I mentioned the gym was
that I noticed Japanese people do this irritating thing there as well.
I usually notice it at coffee shops or restaurants. There will be a
line of X number of people and someone will come in at the end of the
line, see the line, then go drop their bags off at some table and get
back in line. I feel like we do that in the US, but someone physically
goes to hold the table. That's probably moreso because their bags
alone would get stolen, but still. So it mildly irritates me when that
happens, but I have seen people mark a table then not even get in line
for a while. There is also this thing with hazard lights. If you get
near a parking space, even if you blatantly cut in front of someone,
as long as you put your hazard lights on it means you are about to
pull into that spot.
Well at the gym what I noticed was a woman put her drink on a
treadmill and then walk away. Not a big deal I guess, maybe she is
going to get water or something. She went to stretch on a mat and then
get some water, then the bathroom, back for a bit more stretching, and
finally on the treadmill. The only reason I noticed was that she is my
girlfriend. I don't know her name and we have never met, but in my
secret fantasy world, we are dating. I don't stalk her, just steal
glances at the gym. I would say she doesn't know I exist, but everyone
always stares at foreigners so I know she ahs seen me. Then later
another woman marked a bike and did a few other exercises before
coming back. The annoying thing was the bikes were full, except for
the one she "reserved".
Then I had dinner with Paula and Yuya, her hubby. We went to this
really tasty ramen shop in town, well actually on the way to my place.
It was really tasty and I will go back, though not too much since
ramen is fatty. I made it home around 10ish and went to bed. This
weekend is a long weekend with Monday being some holiday. I've got a
lot of things to get done.
February 12th, 2008
So far since I joined the gym and started the new medicine I have lost
weight every time I go to the gym. I started around 107 kilos and now
I am down too 103. My current benchmark goal is 100k which is about
220lbs. That’s still too fat for my body type. According to
my ideal weight is 180 which sounds a bit better than something in the
160s like the J-scale wants, though it still seems lower than
realistic. I’m going to shoot for 200lbs and then decide from there.
When I reach 200 I will have a big drunken party with cake, beer,
fried chicken, and the works.
It seems like I have been away for a year. From school I mean. I
had Friday afternoon off, and watched Paula’s observed class in the
morning. In the afternoon I went to the gym and did some errands.
Saturday through Monday (national holiday) I stayed in and did some
intense programming. Not mental programming, but computer programming.
It was intense for me, but nothing really special. For a period of a
few hours on Sunday, I didn’t leave the chair and then could barely
walk when I tried to stand up. Monday I went back into town and worked
out again. I thought the gym was closed, but it was open until 6.
Oh another thing I did this past week was laundry. That seems not
worth mentioning on the surface, but when I explain further you will
see that in fact it’s still probably not worth mentioning.
The only reason I did mention it was because I did said laundry at the
Laundry-Depot in Koriyama. It’s actually right beside the gym, as if
you know where that is. Anyway, the wash cycle was about $4, but it
was a big load, and then came the best part, the drying cycle. It was
only about $3-4, but it was totally worth it. A side bonus was that I
put a dryer sheet in the mix so my clothes smell nice. A double bonus
was that I put the other dryer sheets on the dash of my car and when I
turned on the defroster, they slid down and made the whole car smell
like magical fluffy flowers. But seriously, having my clothes
thoroughly cleaned and then dried within an hour is a great deal and I
plan to take far more stuff there in the future. I can’t imagine why I
wouldn’t like washing them and then hanging them to dry for 3 days in
my cold apartment.
Today I have one class with the 5th grade class. We’ll
probably do more of my computer games. Tomorrow I have 2 classes as
with Thursday. Friday is just one. Granted there are some other
classes I can go to as an ALT, but they require no planning and a lot
of standing. Payday is just over a week away at which time I will once
again send back nearly half my paycheck. I think I am going to pay a
bit more towards my school loan and then start putting some in
savings. When I pay more than is due they extend my next due date. As
it is now my next payment isn’t until August, even though the interest
would keep piling up. I would like to get it about a year in advance
in case something comes up where I can’t make payments for a while. I
would at least have a year’s cushion. Then I will start putting shed
loads of money in savings.
So…in conclusion, there’s not much going on now. Well there’s
some drama with the job, but I think that will be ok for another year.
I’ll decide what I want to do later. At times I want to stay for a
while, and other times I want to leave now. At its core it’s a good
job and I enjoy it, but I often think I should let someone else try it
since maybe they would be more effective. I also have visions of
wanting to move on and try something new. There are a few kids I would
really miss. I’m afraid if I voluntarily quit and get another job, I
might wake up one morning and panic that I made a huge mistake. But on
the same note, I am a big proponent of things having a clear ending
3rd Term 3rd Years.
Wednesday, February 13th, 2008
There’s not much that is worse than the seniors in
their 3rd term, especially the closer we get to graduation.
They already have their acceptance letters into the high schools of
their choice and it’s their time to have fun after 9 years of “hard
work”. I put hard work in quotes because there are no consequences and
the “hard work” is more or less optional. Something that compares to
the 3rd years in their 3rd term is the 2nd
years. They are in the “have fun” stage since they have moved on past
being a new first year and don’t have to worry about being a senior
yet. Something that IS worse than the 3Y3T is dealing with high school
seniors in their 3rd term. They are already accepted in a
university or have found a job and are just having fun until then.
Though the worst, perhaps, would be 3Y3T at a technical high school
which is quite often where people go that can’t get into the other
schools. When they have their job offers around early February, they
can turn into nasty lazy rude #$%&”&$-s.
I’m showing Goonies to my 3rd years and most are just
walking around the classroom talking and ignoring the movie. It’s
really disrespectful (in their polite way), but it’s a fact of life. I
can get upset about it or just let it go, either way it’s going to
happen. After about 15 minutes into it they do get quiet and start
paying attention. I’ve timed the movie to take place over 3 weeks and
also timed where I am going to pause it each time. Luckily there are 2
places that are semi-suspenseful and make good cut offs. What’s even
better is they are both around a full class period. The first is when
the Goonies say “hey look a secret tunnel, where does it go?” and the
second is when they slide down the secret waterslide and then turn and
see this amazing old ship sitting there. I cut it right before they
show the ship. The Goonies all have this look of amazement on their
faces and the kids want to know why. It’s great.
I had another class with the 5th graders and we played
more of my computer games. I make a few each week and the kids seem to
love them. I plan to make many more and redo them all so they all have
timers and no bugs. The kids always find anything I missed. This time
I asked if the kids had any requests and two told me about ideas which
I have deemed possible and will start soon. I am also in the process
of making a farewell video for the farewell party for the seniors in a
Thursday, February 14th, 2008
Yesterday was the first day in a while that I didn’t weigh less than
the previous time at the gym. But that was a technicality since the
previous time I hadn’t eat breakfast or lunch and this time I had
eaten lunch and drank some water before going. I need to do something
at school like walking up the stairs or some mild exercise. Either way
I am losing weight in a regular healthy manner.
Something else that is regular is the pattern I have gotten into
at the gym. It just seemed to naturally happen and it feels right.
Sometimes I can’t get into a pattern or it feels wrong, but this one
seems ok. I leave right after school on Tues and Thurs and don’t even
go home, I just drive straight there. I get changed and start around
6. I work out for 2-2.5 hours including warm-up bike and “cool down”
treadmill”. I don’t really cool down since I am walking fast for about
30 minutes. Then I go back and shower and change back and then go eat
somewhere. Usually I have sushi since it’s cheap and lots of protein,
though the rice isn’t the best thing to be eating. But since my
metabolism is raging I figure it’s ok. Then I drive back and listen to
some audio lecture which lasts the same amount of time as my drive
Last night I probably shouldn’t have gone to the gym. Or more
specifically, I shouldn’t have left Konan. There was a blizzard when I
left and it was worse, and darker, when I came back. It was so bad at
parts that, even though I could see a car’s brake lights about 1 kilo
in front of me, I couldn’t see its tracks in the snow directly ahead
of me. For a good potion of the trip I was navigating using the snow
of the side of the road as a marker. When I got back the stairs were
already covered with snow.
Even though I used said stairs and made big foot prints (a foot deep)
this morning they were gone and it was even deeper. The woman who also
lives in the building unfortunately left before me and made footprints
that came up above my knee. I took pictures since it was so absurd.
Luckily I started my car from inside my apartment so the heater had
melted much of the snow on the car or at least made it easier for me
to push it off. I’ll try to post some of the other photos I took
Here’s the irony of the day: I’m on a wicked diet and
losing weight like a hound dog chompin’ on a junebug, but I have a
mound of chocolate
from girls for Valentine’s day. It’s called Mount Choco. I’m going to
have to stretch it out for a while or give some away. If you are
wondering, I just made that thing up about the hound dog. I doubt it’s
a real phrase, but it sure sounds southern. More so if you say it like
“haun dawg chaw-pin owna jewn-bug”.
|It's over 3
feet, but it includes snow that has melted some and packed down a
bit. So far we've gotten well over 6 feet.
that I shovel daily otherwise it is impassable. Which means I
February 15th 2008
I know I mentioned at some historical point that I was going to stop
commenting on how much snow we get, but I have to say one thing.
Yesterday we got more snow than I have ever seen in the history of all
things. I cleaned the stairs in the morning as mentioned above. Then
when I got home I had to shovel a path to get into my parking lot. I
had to shovel quite a bit for about an hour. My car could have plowed
through it, but I wouldn’t have been able to open the door since the
snow was at least two feet high. It feel into my snow boots a few
times. All this was from one day worth of snowing. I had to shovel the
stairs yet again as well as a path too the door. I went ahead and
shoveled an area for the lady that lives in the building since she
would have had the same problems. It’s to the point that I have to
shovel snow every time I come home. Not just clear a path so I don’t
step in snow, but shovel it so it doesn’t fall into my knee high boot
as I walk.
Today I have two classes as a Native Teacher and two or
three as an ALT. I have tons of other things to do as well so I won’t
mind the light load. Yesterday I had no classes and only went to one
for a few minutes. I was thinking about going to the gym tonight to
work off some of the chocolate I was forced to eat, but I think I will
just go tomorrow morning and make a day, or morning, of going into
town. Sometimes I wish there was a train that came to my town so I
could go into the city without a car. Overall it is convenient, but
sometimes it would be nice to have no car to worry about.
I had a few language goofs today. One was:
Can I get the key to the cases of soy milk?
The soy milk cases in the hall.
I need the key for the cases of soy milk in the hall, for the English
For the English room. I need the key to the…ah wait…vomiting milk.
hmmm….anyone have any idea what that means?
Me: I always get these confused, the key for the cases of the
stuff that goes in the heaters.
Ah, the kerosene.
Blah blah…I was close. Kerosene, soy milk, and vomiting milk are all
Me: uh huh, yes really.
Kerosene is toe-oh-you, a baby vomiting milk is toe-nyew,
and soy milk is tone-you. They ARE similar and even more so in
Japanese since they are slurred and sound identical. When Japanese
people say they sound completely different, they mean the kanji is
different therefore they are completely different words. They are
similar times infinity.
The second goof was when I asked a class to write down
what arouses them. I said it over and over and should have seen their
faces. They had that look of “I can’t believe he just said that” which
I have seen so many times before. The reason I didn’t recognize it was
that it is in fact similar to the face of “I am over reacting because
that’s what we do in Japan”. It’s often hard to tell when I made a
language goof and when people are just reacting stupidly. One example
was when I told a teacher I was going to Tokyo and she acted like I
was going to walk on my hands to Tokyo. I was merely going there like
millions of other people have. I don’t know why they react like that
occasionally to things that should warrant no reaction. Anyway, I was
trying to ask the class what “inspires”, but I used the wrong reading
of some verb that blah blah blah who cares.
The reason for that goof and many others is I use an
online dictionary called jisho.org (jisho is Japanese for dictionary).
This site is fed by Jim Breen’s massive online e-dict with literally
millions of entries. It’s a great online dictionary, but occasionally
there are vague entries. For instance, the word “but” can be
translated a dozen different ways, but the dictionary might just list
them all as “but”. So you see that and assume the first entry is the
most popular and use it, but that’s not the case. Luckily I usually
ask a Japanese teacher if a certain word is correct for a certain
situation, “but” sometimes I don’t.
Sunday Working Sunday.
February 17th 2008
I am at school, “working” on a Sunday. I don’t entirely mind since we
get Monday off and I had nothing to do during the weekend. If Saturday
and Sunday are considered the “weekend”, why do we say we start the
week on Sunday? I always say I start the week on Monday because, and
this is a stretch, that’s the actual day I start. When people say “I
need this by the first of the week”, they mean Monday. But when you
ask someone directly they say “oh yea Sunday is the first day of the
week”. I don’t get that. I refuse to acknowledge that.
Today we are at school for an observed class and some
presentation by the 8th graders about the school trip that
I still don’t know officially if I am attending. The elementary school
is having their ski day where they ski down the small slope behind the
school. Their parents came and there are about 300 people gathered
around the slope. Most are family of the kids. Well I guess all are
family since who else wants to watch elementary school kids ski down a
200 foot slope and then take 30 minutes walking back up. We get
tomorrow off for coming in today. I was going to go into town and work
out, but tomorrow is the one day of the month the gym closes.
I’m just sitting here typing even though the other
teachers related to the 8th grade are scurrying around
preparing for stuff. I keep asking if there is something I can do, but
they keep saying there isn’t. I know there is, but I don’t know what
needs to be done ergo I can’t defy their politeness and help anyway.
Maybe they don’t want me to attend the meeting because the parents
will ask exactly how many people are going and there is a chance I
will understand them say “everyone except Ryan”.
As a point of clarification, today is the same day a year later as the
"okama" language goof. There are some parents here for the
presentation and others came to cook outside in the big kettles. I
will post the language goof from last year below. Remember I didn't
have this one again, I have learned my lesson on that, we are just
reminiscing. Oh I spelled that right the first time.
Where can I rent a homosexual?
English Teacher: Eh, you want to rent a homosexual?
Me: Sure, but just for a day.
Him: Why do you want to rent a homosexual for a day?
Me: For cooking.
Him: You want to rent a homosexual to cook for you?
Me: Yes, and it would need to be a big one.
Him: Why do you want to do this?
Me: For the international festival next year.
Him: And the homosexual would do all the cooking?
Me: Sure if it is big enough, I think I would only need one.
Him: Why do you need a homosexual for the international festival?
Me: It would make it easier to have one big one rather than a
few smaller ones.
Him: I have no idea where you would rent a homosexual. Why don’t
you ask your friends?
Me: Oh, well I figured you could ask whoever rented them last
Him: Who rented what?
Me: Last week when the three homosexuals came to the school.
Him: When? On the PTA day? Did you ask people if they are
Me: I asked the vice principal and he said they were
Him: Who were?
Me: The three outside.
Him: I don’t remember who was outside.
Me: The lunch ladies.
Him: Three of the lunch ladies are homosexual?
Me: They were using three to cook lunch.
Him: Let me ask the lunchroom chief.
Him: Did you rent three homosexuals last week for the PTA day?
Her: Yes, didn’t you see them? We used them to cook lunch.
Him: What?! No I didn’t. Were they male or female? Where did
you get them?
Her: Male or female? You can’t really tell. I mean they are both
Him: Last week you rented three homosexuals to cook lunch?
Her: Well we don’t call them homosexuals, we just say kettles.
The word for homosexual is Okama. The word for kettle or pot is KAMA.
To make things polite in Japanese you add an O or sometimes GO. For
some strange reason when I added the O I didn’t hear the other word,
probably because I didn’t play the conversation in my head first. I
was just trying to speak and practice Japanese. The best part was when
the lunchroom chief misheard it as well and thought he was saying
kettle. When I redid the conversation in English, after the laughter
subsided, he still didn’t know where or how much they were. I want to
use the kettle to cook a huge low country boil for next year, and I
would provide my own help…
Things May Be Closer than they Appear…
Thursday, February 21st, 2008
Oh yea it’s payday. Maybe I will take some vacation time after lunch
and run into town to take care of some things. Oh no wait I can’t
because I have English interview practices after lunch. Argh. But
other than that I wouldn’t be missing any classes. I mean I do have
some scheduled but…and this is going to be hard to believe…they cut
some today. I never complain out loud since that’s not the Japanese
way, but it usually bothers me. Especially today when one of the
classes was with the 5th graders who are my favorite kids.
Yesterday and this morning I saw some of the 5th graders
and their faces were all happy and smiley and they said “Yay we have
English today”. Then I get to the teacher’s room and someone tells me,
ever so politely, “oh the P.E. teacher wanted an extra class to
explain blah blah to the 5th graders so your class was
cut.” They didn’t even ask me if it was ok or if I had something big
planned. It was simply “English is low on the priority, especially a
required-elective forced on us by the BoE, and anyone, even the
maintenance man, can use your class time if they need it.” Things like
that make the next paragraph easier to chew.
A fellow NT told me that she heard some rumblings of the
chance that our Native Teacher program might not be renewed THIS year.
Like from August I could be jobless. That’s not really in my life plan
right now. Pretty much leaving next year would be the earliest I could
mentally prepare for it. This year would be way too sudden, though
typical of the Japanese style. I flip between realizing it could be
time to move on and wanting to stay for several more years. For me, a
fair compromise would be leaving next year. I really want to see the 5th
graders become JHS students, and one more renewal would do that. We
wouldn’t be told until after March and sometime in April. Either way I
am going to start putting more money in savings rather than sending
overpayments to my school loan. Even though I really want to pay that
down, I think it’s more important to have some financial cushion to
fall back on.
Tomorrow the local historian will come by and watch the 7th
graders practice the folk tales skit. I’m so glad he is coming by
because they aren’t taking me really seriously and it’s so hard for me
to get them to practice. When their teacher told them he was coming by
tomorrow about 7 kids came to me in the teacher’s room for some last
minute questions. The last minute questions were not last minute at
all, they had never started memorizing their parts and suddenly they
had to. We are also going to start making the big background art for
the performance. It’s going to be a big thing for me and the area as
well since the reporter is coming by next week. My favorite part is
watching them suddenly realize they should have listened to me early
Maybe Next Week.
Friday, February 22nd, 2008
I had a little language thing today, not really a goof so much as a
misunderstanding that could have been resolved much faster if I had
known someone’s first name. Let’s join the broadcast already in
Where can I get the large paper that the 6th graders use
for their graduation art?
Office Lady: They are doing it this year.
Me: Never the less, where can I get the big sheets of paper?
OL: It’s in the printing room under the sign that says “big
sheets of paper”.
Me: Touché, I will go there in a now like manner.
OL: Why do you need it?
Me: Hashimoto sensei is coming by later and I want to show him
what we have done.
OL: What are you going to use it for?
Me: We will draw castles or backgrounds.
OL: I doubt he will care or have time, he will be in meetings
with the principal.
Me: Funny, I thought he was coming here for me.
OL: ha ha, that’s funny.
Me: No, I really thought he was coming to see my class.
OL: We are talking about Hashimoto [something] sensei right?
Me: Sure, I guess, whatever. Hashimoto sensei. The guy that
comes by the school sometimes.
OL: He’s coming by to see you?
Me: Yea, he said he was going to come by this week sometime and
I’m sure it was today.
OL: I don’t know why, he’s meeting with the principal about a
Me: Really? I don’t see him as a P.E. type person. I thought he
was a rice farmer.
OL: Nope, he was a P.E. teacher.
Me: Really? This is news to me. I just thought he was a local
farmer. He seems too old to be a P.E. teacher.
OL: Well he’s retired now and just advises about local sports
Me: No offense, but that is the dumbest thing I have ever
heard. I am positive he is a rice farmer, I saw him riding his tractor
around [some area].
OL: That doesn’t sound like him.
Me: He said he was interested in my class today.
OL: He was probably lying just joke with you.
Me: He seemed so serious and really interested. I really can’t
believe any of this.
OL: Well we can ask him when he gets here later.
Oh I heard he wasn’t coming today, he is coming next week instead, but
I still need that paper.
OL: No he’s here now meeting with the principal.
Me: What the #$%&? Are you kidding me?
OL: No, he’s in there now.
Then I storm to the door of the office and knock, which
was really rude, then I open the door and see the principal talking to
Hashimoto sensei, a different Hashimoto sensei that in fact was a P.E.
teacher and now sets up local meetings. The fact I nearly stormed in
along with me suddenly realizing what happened made me look like I was
drunk and a moron. I just mumbled and left.
My class with the kids planning the folk tales skits in
late March went ok. I told them they had to have their parts memorized
by today and no one bothered to make any attempt. Well one girl
memorized her parts, but no one else did. This part didn’t surprise me
in the least since learning English usually stops at the door. I’ve
never had anyone do anything at home that was English homework
related. Today the local historian mentioned above was supposed to
come watch the class and I was really counting on that, but then he
couldn’t make it for some reason. Luckily next week he is coming and
bringing a reporter from a local newspaper who is going to write up a
story and take some photos. That is really going to make the kids get
their acts together. I was secretly hoping it would embarrass some
kids this week and cause them to do better, but no such luck.
Sunday, February 24th, 2008
I said that I would no longer comment on how much snow we get since it
was almost a daily thing, but in the course of 24 hours between
Saturday around 5pm to Sunday the same time, we got around 2 feet. I
have to clean the stairs pretty much every time I use them other wise
they form a slide and I slip (onto the soft snow). Well this time I
decided to head out around 5:30pm on Sunday and go get some dinner. I
thought about just walking over to the local convenience store and
seeing what they have, but for some reason I chose to drive at the
last minute. If I hadn’t chosen to drive, the other lady that lives in
the building couldn’t have left this morning. When I got near the car
I realized there were no more stairs. I had to completely re-dig a
path to the stairs and it took nearly an hour. If I hadn’t done that,
I don’t know what the lady would have done. There was no other way to
get to the cars.
The reason there is so much snow in front of our apartment
and specifically around the stairs is because the building is poorly
designed. There’s no polite way to put that really, it’s just a bad
design. It would have been easy to fix too. The way the roof slants
causes the snow to build up and then dump directly in front of the
building, completely blocking our way. However, no snow seems to pile
up behind the building because the roof slants differently that way.
It’s not like it suddenly started snowing 10 years ago and the roof
wasn’t an issue when designing it. It’s always been a snowy place
because we are up in the mountains and surrounded by mountains.
Wasteful As Usual.
Monday, February 25th, 2008
I have 9 classes this week, though I will only go to 7. Of those 7 I
will only plan 5 of them. Of those five, one will be a practice for
the folk tales (with a newspaper reporter visiting), two are movies,
and two are some actual lesson plan. Most teachers have about 12-15
classes per week, but the guy that came 7,000 miles to sit in a
teacher’s room only gets 5. The sheer inefficiency of how I am
underused is one thing that is tilting the scale to the “just one more
year” side. I can’t believe I actually ask for more work. I tried to
put it in my contract when I was a high school JET since they used me
so pathetically. I went 3 months without one single class and from
April on my second year to July of my third year (15 months) with only
99 classes total. Most ALTs would have about 99 classes in a month.
Today the seniors watched the 2nd part of
Goonies. They really got into it and were cheering and even squealing
in the scary parts. I stopped it perfectly to build the tension for
next week. The characters all turned around and said “Oh my God what
is that” and then I paused it. The class begged me to show just one
more second, but I said they would have to wait. I have to make an
activity for next week since the last part only lasts 20-30 minutes I
Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
I got the official word that the presentation I worked on for a few
weeks won’t be able to be shown at the farewell party on Friday. It’s
not he end of the world since I can show it in class, but I wanted to
show it during the party since so many students would see it. There
are two reasons why I’m a bit mad that I can’t show it. Reason one is
because the other grades are also putting on presentations or
performances, and those are going on for 20+ minutes. There should be
a time limit. Reason two is that, even though I told them I would be
doing something long ago, my presentation (like my schedule) was
placed at the bottom of the list. When the other groups said they
wanted to do something, they were added at the top and that pushed
mine down and then off. I understand I shouldn’t be at the top, even
though I said I would be doing something early on, but I don’t think I
should naturally be at the bottom either.
I had one class today with the 5th graders who
are still my favorite class. I think it’s because of their teacher and
that he teaches them English a lot. I really wish I could see them as
JHS students, but I think I will only be able to see them for one
term. I don’t know if our jobs will be here after next year or even
this year. Anyway, in the class we played my computer games and the
kids loved them. I need to make more since I no longer have to work on
my farewell presentation. I was putting the finishing touches on it,
but I’ll just take my time and show it during my own classes. I might
still try to do one thing during the presentation, but it would only
last about 1 minute.
The internet at school makes me want to gash my eyes out.
It’s turtle slow and if more than one person is using the network then
it’s slower than a tree growing. The two things that really cause my
blood pressure to skyrocket are 1) any page that is remotely useful,
even educationally useful, is blocked. 2) Sometimes it just stops. It
doesn’t lock up or crash, it just stops. I will click around and it
says it is refreshing, but it’s really not. I’ll have to close the
window(s) and start over. I should be glad that we have the internet
and can use it, but come on folks this is 2008.
The 8th graders are rehearsing for their (too
long) presentation on Friday. I watched part of it and saw them
playing piano, guitar, and singing, but not necessarily in relation to
each other. It was “together”, but I don’t think they could hear each
other and well…it needed work. I tried to offer some tips, but they
were shot down. Actually the recipients nodded and acted like it was
useful, but then continued with the way they do things. One way was
the absolute most inefficient way to scroll through a PowerPoint
Let me see if I can give you a proper example of how Japan
is a land of contradictions. I’m going to give you two scenarios and
you have to choose which one would be considered rude:
Leaving your mobile phone on your desk while you are in class. Having
the ringer volume set to full. Having your voice mail setting set to
“never”. Having someone call you and assume you are running for the
phone, but caught in some temporal distortion so they let it ring 983
Me sitting at my desk typing out a quick message to a friend quietly.
This is a tough one. One is considered rude and the other
is perfectly acceptable. Go ahead and think about it for a while.
(Hint: the answer is the one that makes the least possible sense).
Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
I worked out last night and then went to Milky Way with Paula. I ate
way too much and was in agony after it. It was awesome. I was really
feeling bad and I guess my stomach has shrunk so I doubt I will be
overeating like that anymore. Also when I ate too much chocolate for
Valentine’s day I felt nasty, actually sick for a while, so I doubt I
will be eating like that anymore as well. Before I didn’t feel
anything and constantly overate, so I would keep eating. But no more
of that, no sir, apart from losing weight, eating less saves me money.
I’m trying to figure out my summer plans. If I still have
a job, I think I will aim for going to Thailand to take that course
and get a CELTA. I hate saying that without the word “certificate”,
but the C stands for certificate so it would be like PIN number, which
is redundant. Anyway, the whole thing will cost around 3 fat, or 3
large or 3 grand, whichever means $3,000. Maybe more depending on
where I stay and how much airfare costs. It would be helpful if I
continue teaching English as a foreigner language in the future, which
is something that could be considered possible. As for being
considered a possibility, this is something that could be. If I don’t
have a job I could still do it and use their option of “Train then
Teach”, but I am thinking of Hong Kong first and Thailand later.