Monday, June 1, 2009
big thing of first term is tomorrow and Wednesday. Nothing academic
related, this is about sports. A student’s sport or club activity is
far more important than mere classes or anything academic. The big
sports thing tomorrow is called ChuuTaiRen in which all the JHSes from
around Koriyama take two days off and compete against each other in
every sport. It gets all the way down to one winner in each area. We
could do well in volleyball and maybe tennis, but probably not in
baseball or soccer. There are so many terds that go out for the
baseball team since that is so popular here and everyone wants to be
the next star. There are some good players, but overall many of them
strikeout, miss pop flies, and generally run around like chickens with
All of this stuff takes place in Koriyama right near my
apartment. So here’s a quiz for you, what do you think they want me to
Drive to school, which takes about 35 minutes, ride back with the
principal to right around my apartment (35 min), watch matches all
day, ride back to the school (35 min), drive home (35 min).
straight from my apartment to the various matches and not come to
school at all.
The answer is easy if you use my method of how things
always work in Japan. Think of what is logical and makes sense, and
then think of the opposite. They want me to drive all the way to
school, sit for an hour, ride back to town with my principal, then
ride around to the sporting events (which are semi-nearby), then ride
back to school (passing my apartment), sit for 5 minutes, drive back
to my apartment. I can’t think of anything that would be more
inefficient and annoying than doing that and therefore I plan to take
vacation time so I don’t have to worry about that stuff.
On a different note, I was about 15 minutes late today. I
had planned to get up early (5:30am) and go jogging around 6, but when
the alarm went off I instinctively snoozed it. Then I thought I had
turned it off so I reset it to 6:45. Then I hit snooze about 3 times
and got out of bed at 7:20am which is usually when I am getting ready
to leave. I finally left around 7:50 and traffic was bad so I got here
late. No big deal since I called on the way and explained it and
because I have no classes today (or really at all this week). Well I
have two although one is with the hell class so we won’t actually do
anything. I don’t actually see the other class on the schedule for
Friday so maybe I only have one class this week. That’s fine since my
classes at Ohse will be big and grand.
Last week the kids learned “how long have you been _____”
so I am going to make a detective game this week. I am going to have 4
students accused of doing something and the others have to question
them about. I don’t have the details, but I need to make some fun
classes like I did at one time. They have been somewhat paper based at
Ohse recently and that’s not good. I want to get back to the full
sized board games where kids walk around the board and throw a big box
for dice. Things where they are having fun and forget they are
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I watched some games
yesterday and came back around 4. Then I did some other things and
later thought about either going for a jog or getting some dinner. I
got a little sleepy around 6:30 and stretched out on the couch for a
few minutes. I woke up in the same position an hour later feeling
thoroughly rested. Hmmm....wait, it is 7:20 now, but why is it so
bright? I looked at my computer clock and it said 7:20AM. OH MY GOD, I
slept 13 hours straight without moving or waking up. Was I that tired?
I Need Fiber.
Friday, June 05, 2009
I thought I was happy with my internet service. It’s billed as 50Mbps,
but due to my location in relation to the junction station I only get
about 3-4Mbps. I always assumed that was normal and it’s usually semi
fast. Then someone from NTT (the phone monopoly) called and told me
about their fiber service. I said please send a fax and they did and
then I said I would think about it. Then they called back the next day
and the guy started talking full speed as Japanese people always do. I
asked if there was someone who spoke English actually to get him to
say no so I could say “well I don’t understand so I’m hanging up now”.
But he put some attractive sounding girl on the phone who lived in
California for a year and she answered all my questions. The big one
was about how my current service was dependent on distance from the
junction station as well as weather and how many people were using it.
With fiber it’s a direct fiber connection that, according to the girl,
should be around 100Mbps most of the time.
Eh…..frickin WOW. I get 3Mbps now and this would be nearly
30x faster? Good lord, yes I will take that. The oddest thing is that
it’s going to even cheaper than what I am paying now. I guess that
makes sense because it is through the NTT monopoly and they already
own all the lines and what not, whereas my current provider has to
rent everything from them. I think the price even includes phone
service. I wouldn’t even care if it were slightly more expensive than
what I am paying for now if I could get anywhere near 100Mbps. Heck
even 50M would be awesome if it actually connected near that speed. I
can remember having a 150 baud modem and saving for months to upgrade
to a lightning fast 300 baud modem. Then there was a 14.4K modem which
was insanely fast, simply unheard of. This fiber line is approximately
300,000x faster than my first “fast” modem. Wow. Let’s cross out
Camped & Stuffed.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Camping was great for the most part. We ended up leaving later than
planned since we kept forgetting everything and had to drive all
around town finding stuff. On the way it was slightly raining, but
cleared up for most of the trip. It was only Sunday morning that it
started to rain again and the spot we chose was windy so it was
basically crappy Sunday. Next time we are going to get a better spot
and plan a little better. We had plenty of food though, we actually
over planned on that. I was still eating low country boil stuff
through Sunday night.
Today during the lunch break (after eating) kids went out
into the school yard as usual. There were three boys who heard the
bell that signaled it was time to start cleaning, but chose to play a
bit more. When they finally decided to come back they were late for
cleaning and it had already started. Their teacher walked by just as
they were coming in and fussed at them for a minute. But there’s no
punishment in Japan is there? Well this time there was and it was
great. She made them stand there during cleaning so people would pass
by and ask what they were doing and they had to explain over and over.
That in itself was great, but then she went a step further. She fussed
at them a few more times and finally said “you want to play during
cleaning? Fine, go play.” She made them go back out to the yard and
play soccer while everyone was cleaning. Everyone was looking at them
wondering what they were doing and you could tell playing was the last
thing they wanted to do. It was so painful, but I loved it. They are
good kids, but they were testing their limits and got shut down.
That’s why I love that class. It definitely wasn’t the one I always
Friday, June 12, 2009
I had two interesting things
happen with the Japanese language itself on Thursday. I went to Ohse
and had more classes in one day than I do at Konan in one week. These
classes were reviews for an upcoming test so I played a popular high
speed game called Typhoon. Basically 4 students, one from each group,
come to the board and quickly write the answer to whatever problem I
give them. This time it was to make a sentence using grammar points
they have learned in class. One of which was “__makes me happy.” So I
would say it and they had to write something original like “soccer
makes me tired” or whatever. They weren’t supposed to use “happy”
since that was the example in the book and too easy, but some kids
forgot that and did anyway. Another example for another grammar point
uses “this pen is 1,000 yen” so when I said go the students wrote as
fast as possible which caused them to smush some things together. One
girl wrote “the pen makes me happy”. The boy beside her was copying
what she wrote, but made a mistake. He wrote “The pen is makes me
happy.”, but the pen and is were a bit too close to each
The other happening was about
how Japanese is hard for me to learn. I always learn something and it
is explained by a smart educated Japanese person. Then later some
other smart educated Japanese person laughs and says “we never say
that at all, that is completely wrong.” Sometimes I explain where I
learned it and/or offer written proof and then the stories changes to
“oh well in this specific rare unexplainable situation, we may
consider using it.” Ok whatever. So Thursday at Ohse during the above
mentioned game, there were 4 groups and a student wrote Group 1 –
Group 4 on the board so no one took too much space. In Japanese small
groups like this are called Hans. [The leader of the group is
called a HanCho which is where the English term Head Honcho comes
from.] But Japanese phonetically changes the pronunciation so
things are easier to say. Group 1 is “ippan” (E-pahn), group 2 is
“nihan” (knee hahn), group 3 is “sampan” (sahm pan), and group 4 is
The sounds change depending on
the position of your lips, so when you say ni (knee) your mouth is
open and can easily continue to han. Knee-han is easy to say. If you
were to say “san” and then “pan” it involves some funky mouth
movements. Not too much, but enough to cause an issue. So “san”
changes to “sahm” so the mouth is closed which easily continues into
explosive “p” sound. Wow, what a linguistics bit that was there.
Anyway, we got to group 4 and I asked which one it was since neither
sounded really correct. The teacher said it was “yon pan” (yone like
bone + pahn). Ok, that’s groovy let’s continue.
Then I played the game in
another class with another teacher and got to group 4 and said yonpan
and was told that yonpan was incorrect and the correct way was yonHan.
I explained that yonpan was what the other teacher had told me, but
teacher 2 insisted it was incorrect. Then I had another class with the
original teacher again and when we got to that part I pointed out
teacher 2 said it was wrong, so then teacher 1 insisted he was right.
Then he asked the class which was right and no one knew. How can I
learn the language if Japanese people can’t even agree on it?
Over the years some people have
mentioned casually in passing that I seem to have a problem with
authority or I don’t follow the chain of command properly. I can see
why they would say this, but it’s not actually the whole truth. I
don’t have a problem with authority per se, but I have a problem when
the powers that be ignore something that seems so blatantly clear and
obvious and won’t explain it. I always try to follow the CoC first,
but when I get ignored a few times for stupid reasons I tend to go
around the chain to accomplish what I think needs to be done. That
sounds more powerful than I mean it, but it’s the best I can do now.
So the situation I am referring
to here is regarding a book I went out of my way to BUY and DELIVER to
a certain student by a certain date. There was a time sensitive
deadline and I wanted the student to get the book well before the
deadline. I took the book to a certain school and followed the CoC by
giving it to a teacher and thoroughly explaining what it was and when
the book giving needed to happen. Then today I found out the book
wasn’t given to the student because the instructions weren’t clear
(please give this book to student-A today or tomorrow). They were in
both English and Japanese….hmmm…so next time I will go around the CoC
and simply give the book to the student since the deadline is tomorrow
and now there is no time to use it.
I have no classes today and I
am in a bad mood. Wow that’s surprising, me not in a super chipper
mood. No seriously though I’m usually in a better mood, but today I
had to drive 40 minutes out here to do nothing but sit here all day
playing on the computer. Teaching English in Japan, where you are paid
well to pursue your own interests and play with the kids, oh IF we
have some free time we might have you teach an occasional class or 2,
but you won’t have to do much. I actually want to do a lot more than I
do which is really odd. I have never had a job where I continually
asked for more work.
During lunch I had two little
spiffs with people. I’m just getting tired of certain things and I
can’t get over them. First I was helping them set out the dishes and I
was making a real effort to do it right. I put the soup bowls by the
main plates on each tray. After a few someone gasped and pointed. It
was a gasp that one would expect if I dropped my pants and started
mooning everyone while slapping my butt. It was a real gasp of shock.
Why did she gasp? Of course, because I put the soup bowl on the left
side when it was supposed to go on the right. The gasping part was ok,
but it was when they laughed and commented that I never seem to learn
the right way. I mumbled something about why I could never seem to
learn that which was because I think it’s about the dumbest thing in
the world to worry about. There was awkward silence for a bit.
Then when they were putting
food on the plates and milks on the tray I said I didn’t need an item
with yogurt in it nor did I need any milk since I don’t drink it. I
was told all the trays had to be exactly the same and no one could
have special treatment. That wouldn’t bother me since it is very
Japanese, but then I noticed a tray with a teacher’s name beside it. I
asked what this was and I was told it was a special dish for a certain
teacher because she doesn’t eat potatoes. Hmmm, so she gets special
treatment and a marked tray, but I can’t? So I pushed on and got my
name marker and put it beside a tray and took the milk away. GASP. “No
we can’t do that.” Look, we are doing it. There look. “No she can’t
have potatoes so we make a special dish for her.” Right I can’t have
milk or the yogurt stuff so this can be my special dish.” “No no all
the trays must be the exact same.” Except this one right, this one has
her name and no potatoes. So this one is different? How about if mine
is the same….
It never worked. Her tray was
ok because she couldn’t have potatoes and they were being nice by
picking them out and putting her tray off to the side, but my case was
different. I could have milk, I just chose not to drink it. Well
that’s true I could have milk although it was fly straight through me.
And for the record she simply doesn’t like potatoes, she can eat them
with ZERO side effects. I would have been happy with them simply
making the connection of “oh yea, well we are supposed to keep all the
trays the same, but since she gets here late we make a special
exception for her.” But each thing was completely separate and
compartmentalized to them. My case was part of the whole group and I
couldn’t stand out. Her case was a special thing they did as a favor.
I couldn’t get them to see both cases were the same.
I was reading someone’s blog
about Japan and then I read an entry he made about negativity from
foreigners in Japan. He said he stopped blogging for a while because
he was too worried about being too negative about being in Japan. It
made me think about mine and how some people email me saying I have an
immature outlook on Japan. The thing is, for some reason many people
wear emerald glasses when they think about Japan. When old friends
find out I live here they invariably say “wow that is awesome, Japan
is amazing, the people are so polite and the culture is so rich and
amazing, do samurais walk around with swords? Do you see the shogun
everyday? I bet your apartment is a castle and you defend it before
going to school? How do you get to the magical fantasy land of Japan?
Do you fly up into the heavens on a magic carpet?” Ok that was a bit
of a stretch, but everyone thinks it’s a magical place. In actuality,
the Japanese people are just people. People are kind. People are
cruel. People are polite. People are racists. The Japanese simply put
a high value on the appearance of how things look.
The other thing is that some
people feel by never saying anything negative, that makes you a
positive person. Well that’s stupid. There are several things in the
world that are negative and it would be stupid to put a positive spin
on them. One final thing I noticed was he said “life is what you make
it”. That’s pretty naïve. You can do things to change your life MOST
OF THE TIME or you can whine about the hand you were dealt, but you
can’t simply “make your life different” by choice. I mean by that
logic people who are starving or abused want it that way. Homeless
people are just lazy and people that die young had it coming. That’s
stupid. What people really mean when they say this is “MY life is
great and I have constantly tried my best so therefore that MUST be
the reason why my life is great, other people with bad lives just
I don’t hate my life here nor
do I hate Japan. There are several aspects of the culture that I don’t
understand and really want to know why they do things. By typing my
feelings here uncensored I can keep a record of what happens and how I
felt as well as air out my thoughts and slow them down. I have had
some people explain why things are done a certain way and that was
really helpful. I should really find a way to get over some things,
but I keep using logic as my basis for everything and they use
personal relationships here as the basis. It’s so hard to get my head
around that. I keep going back to logic as a foundation and then
different cultures have different spins on it, but at it’s core
everything should be logical in some way. It’s really not like that
here and that’s difficult for me to understand and maintain.
Was it Really That Funny?
Saturday, June 13, 2009
I had to come to Konan on
Saturday morning for 3 hours to help administer the national
standardized English test. I really like this test since it’s clear
and easy to understand and there are no stupid tricks like the
Japanese test for foreigners. That’s a whole different rant in itself.
So I’m driving out here and I realize my tank is empty and the empty
light starts coming on occasionally. Then it’s on the whole time and
the bar thing drops below E. Since I am past all the gas stations, or
at least the ones that don’t have bank hours (9-4 ridiculous), I
choose to keep on driving. I made it to school, gave the test, then
left. I decided to not back track and try to get to the gas station
that is semi-on the way home. I make it there and I pull in to the
full service station and say “1,000 yen” since that’s all the money I
have to spend at the moment. Once I get into Koriyama I can go to the
place that takes credit cards. The attendant looks at me and says
“fill it up”. I said “No, 1,000 yen”. He replies “eh…what…fill it up”.
I said “NO, 1,000 yen only”. He starts laughing hysterically and yells
to the guy in the office “this guy only wants 1,000 yen”.
it wasn’t THAT funny. Had I been naked, or dressed like Yoda, or asked
to pay in pubic hair then maybe it would warrant a laugh like that,
but I went to a gas station and said 1,000 yen worth of gas please. I
have done this many times before with other varied amounts and never
been laughed at. WHY IS THIS FUNNY? This is exactly what I am talking
about above. WHY IS THIS FUNNY? I seriously cannot understand at all
why this would be funny. There was no sign that said “we only fill the
tank up, don’t ask for 1,000 only”. That would be funny. THIS IS NOT.
Monday, June 15, 2009
So I am dead broke. I mean like I have never been in my
life. So far my time in Japan will be remembered by constantly being
poor and/or thinking about money. A fraction of it is my fault, I
admit that. I have had to send a ton of money home over the years to
pay off various loans, most of which are paid off. My current issues
are with the car. I pay $300 a month for the loan, plus 60 or so for
gas, plus $500-$2000 per year in various fees and other nonsense. But
I must have one due to where I work and where I live. This month I was
already in the hole a fair bit and then got a few bills that were late
and really expensive, then I had the $350 car tax which really broke
the bank. It has forced me to eat a lot less and watch what I spend.
The problem is this week I can do nothing apart from come to school
and then go home and stay inside. I’m so tired of being broke and have
tried multiple ways to “make my financial life different”, but nothing
has worked yet.
I went to the supermarket on Sunday and spent my last $30
from my credit card on food, so I should be set for the week. Friday
is payday which is good and so far I have no outstanding bills so I
might be able to save a bit although I think I just jinxed it by
saying that. I’m in the habit of eating light so maybe I can spend far
less this month on food. I’d like to put a little away and not touch
it, but I’m not going to say how much so I don’t jinx that. A few
times I said I was going to save X next month and then I magically
bills that were exactly what I planned to save, exactly. The only good
thing I have seen about this $300 car payment is that once it finishes
I plan to keep making it to savings and build up a nest egg. I have
never had one yen more than my paycheck in the bank at any time in
Sick of it, and Eager...
Monday, June 16, 2009
I am sick of things just not
working. I call it Ryan Syndrome sometimes since things seem to work
fine for everyone, but when I try something it just doesn’t. I’m not
whining about how the world is against me, I’m just confused as to
what I am doing wrong. The newest thing is a web technology called
AJAX. You’ve seen it, it’s where you click a box and the page changes
without refreshing. It works fine on all the computers I have access
to, yet when I try to create a file that uses AJAX, it simply doesn’t
work. I copied an online tutorial verbatim, but nothing. Just doesn’t
work. I have no idea why not. Sometimes when I am programming stuff
things just don’t work. Then I redo them from scratch and build right
back up to the exact same place I was before, and it suddenly works.
The eager part refers to me
getting a 100Mbps fiber connection this Thursday. Even if it is merely
twice as fast as my 50Mbps connection which is always around 3.5Mbps,
I would be happy. But if it were anywhere near 20 or 50 or even
remotely close to 100 I would absolutely go insane. I’m not getting my
hopes up due to the aforementioned issues, but I’ll know more
Thursday. If I am connected to iTunes or YouTube or anything like that
I can’t do anything else on the web. That one stream completely hordes
my entire connection. I’m really looking forward to it.
In about 1 hour I get to go
back to the hell class. I’m going to try to bribe them with some Ryan
Dollars I made for the JHS kids last year. Some kids from this class
saw them last year and begged for them and since I no longer use them
in the JHS (nor teach there really) I might as well use them as a
“shut up and stop showing your penis” tool. I don’t know how to use
them, do I give all or none if the class is quiet or just some to the
quiet kids. Maybe I will give them all out if the kids are quiet. I
can draw some things on the board and erase one each time the class is
We have all the windows open at
school since it is such a lovely day. You know the best thing about
having all the windows open? There are no screens. Anything that wants
to fly in the school can and has done so. There are some bees and
flies buzzing around now. In the peak of summer the flies are crazy
swarming. It’s really awesome. I know I sound like I am being
sarcastic, but I’m not. I love it when flies attack me, though bees
would be better. A huge swarm of killer bees flying around and chasing
me then violently stinging me until I die in excruciating pain. That
would be a nice day.
WOW. The demon class was much
better. I drew four faces on the board one happy, one so-so, one sad,
and one in red crying, and only erased one. When I did they went nuts
and were screaming “EVERYONE BE QUIET. OH DEAR GOD, SILENCE YOUR
MOUTHS.” They still got loud sometimes, but I would grab an eraser and
walk to the faces and they would get quiet. I also did the fun prank I
do when teaching about insects. When I got to spider I asked if they
wanted to see one, which they did. Then I pulled out a cup I had with
three rubber spiders in it. I peered in and then threw it at them.
They squealed and scurried around and then laughed. It wasn’t a usual
hell class and I actually enjoyed it. The teacher even left for a
meeting halfway through.
There was an observed class
today and I watched it. It was for the student-teacher of English and
she did the usual job. Nothing to write home about, but not bad.
During the class the kids had to walk around asking other people
various things in English. I noticed one kid who is usually quiet and
ends up getting left out a lot. This time I noticed he was doing
something I used to do often, looking like you are in the middle of
something while actually doing nothing. First I saw him see someone
across the room and run over to the other person and so I looked away.
Then I happened to glance back and saw him doing nothing in the
corner. Then he walked over to two other people and waited until they
finished and laughed when they laughed and acted like he was writing
something. Later I saw his paper and nothing was written. A few other
times I noticed him walking around writing or running to another
imaginary person. If you weren’t on to him you’d think he was actually
I did that a lot at previous
corporate jobs I’ve had. I would walk around with some papers and
mumble while looking concerned. If I was lucky I would overhear
something about some client or job or something related to the company
and later ask someone about that or mumble something about it. I would
do this when I wanted to walk around or hang out with some pals that
worked in another department. Then again I got laid off from one gig
so maybe they were on to me.
I signed up for Twitter and have no followers. Well one minute into it
I had a follower. Your Horny Kitty. Seriously, how did he/she/it get
me one minute after signing up? One minute. It could have been less if
I signed up at :59 seconds and YHK got me at :01. Amazing. Off to a
great start. No idea what I will tweet about, but my name is samuraian.
Letdown of the Decade.
Friday, June 19, 2009
I finally got my Fiber Optic line hooked up. The installer tested the
connection at 88Mbps which is insane. I couldn't connect so I had to
call tech support and he helped me. Finally I am connected and flying
through the web at a speed of 2.5Mbps. Wait, wasn't YahooBB 3-4 and
this is a fiber line? Yea, this is more of a let down than Matrix 2 &
3 were. My old ADSL line was faster than this? I can't believe it, but
it seems that way.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Got paid on Friday so I can breathe (and eat) again. I pigged out all
weekend since I am starting a month of purity. I don’t have a catchy
name yet, but I am going to eat right everyday and exercise hardcore
until July 17th. So it’s not a true month, but we have a
farewell party that night and I am going to drink for sure. FO SHO.
Sorry. So yea I ordered a pizza over the weekend and that was tasty,
but expensive. It’s around $30 for a large pizza which is really about
the medium size I’m used to. I also ate out at various other places
and generally didn’t care what I ate. I just took my weight here at
school and it is 111.5 kilograms which is roughly 245.815422 pounds,
but that’s just a general estimation. My goal is 100kg for now and
then ideally about 90 or slightly less. 90kg would be 198.416036
pounds, again very rough estimate. Really just losing some fat would
be fine. I hope to gain some muscle.
My plan includes a fixed number of weightlifting reps to
do in a week as well as X number of minutes to exercise either in the
morning or at night. If I keep a written chart of it I will be less
likely to cheat or slack off. If I were a king about 300 years ago, I
would have died by age 30. I say that because I love eating and
lounging around and hate exercising. Even though I know when I am
physically out there walking fast or whatever, my brain releases
endorphins that make me feel great, I hate getting ready and finding
my outfit and leaving the house and all that stuff. If I were a king
and had several wives and all the food I wanted, I would gorge myself
and surely be a goner. I’m going to pause now and make a calendar
chart to track my progress.
It’s been decided...by us, not you.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I had something happen that I won’t comment on, but I will relate
another story that is the same. Next Monday all the Koriyama AETs are
going to another elementary school to do an international day. It will
be a load of fun as they always are, but there was a bit of
Japanese-ness in the planning. A foreign AET planned most of it and
she did so in a way that really maximized the time we would spend with
the kids. Her plan was changed because there always has to be some
Japanese mark on something planned*. It was changed to something that,
as expected, makes far less sense. Then she was told “it has been
decided, this is final, we can’t make any changes.” Basically that
means “we are doing it our way regardless of how nonsensical it may be
so don’t use your silly foreign ‘logic’ on us.” The way they changed
it involves far less contact with the kids and we will all be in an
odd booth setting in the gym.
The * above was to highlight some other instances of the
Japanese mark. 1) When I was planning the winter meeting (not my idea
for the stupid name) back in February, I had everything planned for
maximum activity time, but the plan was hijacked (at the last minute
in true Japanese style) and marked. The Japanese mark on the planning
was to go over the instructions for an excruciatingly long time to
make sure everyone was completely comfortable with it, even though we
then had no time to actually do it.
2) When I did an international festival 3 years ago and we
sold Jambalaya, there was a woman walking around telling us to be more
Japanese. She worked for the international center and kept telling us
to stand in front of the booth and say the Japanese standard
shopkeeper phrases. We were supposed to say “welcome to our booth,
wouldn’t you like to try some Jambalaya?” in Japanese. We refused
since it was an international festival and she said the people would
become disoriented and confused if they didn’t hear those phrases. We
were selling food in the food section of an international festival.
How hard is that to figure out?
3) The whole katakana language in itself. When I teach
kids English I have to use this language to spell things out since
Japanese is so limited phonetically. There are two ways to spell
things in katakana, the correct(ish) sounding way and the way they
choose in Japanese (the wrong odd way). Some words are ok, but most
sound stupid. “What time is it” could be written naturally as “wa-taim
izet” which I did for a class, but the teachers laughed and told me
the correct way was “watto tai MOO e-zoo e-tto”. No actually that is
nothing like natural English, but that was less important as putting
their Japanese mark on English. This is how WE speak English so please
teach it that way.
4) Another written language is called Romaji and it is
solely for communicating with foreigners and yet there is a battle
going on with spelling. There is a correct way that actually sounds
like what is written. For instance shi sounds like “she” and
tsu sounds like the first part of “tsunami”. The underlined things
are spelled using the Hepburn system which is correct. The Japanese
put their own mark on it and created another version called
Kunreishiki (coon ray she key). Basically this is the wrong version
since si is supposed to sound like “she” and tu is for “tsu”.
If you are communicating with foreigners and there are other letters
that would correct create these sounds, WHY use wrong ones? Because we
gotta mark our territory.
5) Sometimes the mark is ridiculously huge like when I
heard some students say 7-11 was a Japanese company. As in it was
founded and started and the first store was in Japan. I later learned
other Japanese things included the airplane, the computer, Microsoft,
Disneyland, the alphabet song (the English one), the car, and
Guess who is really frustrated and in a bad mood today? I
was nearly late because my car was out of gas and I couldn’t find a
gas station in the city (IN THE CITY) that opened before 9am.
Seriously, what is this 1903? Cars drive to work. Cars need gas. Work
usually starts before 9. I had to go to this small place way out in
the country that opens at 7am. ATMs close at 5 on Sundays and 9 other
days. ATMS. WHY would an ATM close?
Funny, then #$&# You.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I had one class today with the elementary first graders about colors.
It was ok, but most had already learned colors in kindergarten so this
was an odd review for most and new for others. Anyway, after the class
I did this stupid thing I always do around kids which is walking down
a fake staircase as I left the room. I closed the door and walked down
it and the class erupted with amazed laughter. Some JHS 7th
graders who were in the hall saw me do it and laughed in a “that’s
stupid” sort of way. I explained that the kids loved it in the class.
The three girls then said “that was perverted”. Which in fact it was
absolutely NOT perverted. I did a fake staircase walk as I left the 1st
graders room, that was all. So this annoyed me a little, but then we
were walking down the hall and I said the kids thought it was amazing
so I do it after class. Then they started squeal-laugh-giggling and
loudly say “that was perverted Ryan, it was perverted” IN FRONT OF
SOME PASSING FEMALE TEACHERS. Of course I had a look of “I don’t know
what they are talking about”, but what other look would you have in
that situation? The teachers looked at me with an awkward glance and
that whole thing made me feel stupid. Mainly because the stupid girls
said I was being perverted which implies looking up skirts or
something, but what I was doing was NOT #$%&-ing PERVERTED.
Perhaps I have overstayed my welcome at this school.
Luckily I will be getting two new schools in August and only coming
out here twice a week. That will really give me a lot less exposure
here which will be good. I still have fun at Ohse and I think it’s
because I only go there once a week.
Last night Chloe had a Japan trivia games night. The game
board she had was difficult at first, but then got interesting. There
was something with the dice where you could move to your space based
on ANY combination of the dice. You could add, subtract, multiply,
divide, or use either of the die numbers to get where you were going.
Oddly enough there were several times when someone couldn’t move at
all. Then you collected cards about prefectures in Japan and later had
to challenge other people to try to win a whole region. A few regions
together added up to 15 points. It took a lot longer than we thought.
Sunday, June 27, 2009
It’s been a while since my last confession. Michelle came
to visit me and her old town for the weekend. It was quite natsukashii
(nostalgic). She was a JET with me for 3 years in Kawamata city which
is near Fukushima city. She would come in to visit me and other people
3-4 times a week so we became pretty close. Then we did FuJET and AJET
together and co-wrote the Kanji Survival Guide.
Now she’s in Nagano for 3 months since her employer (the
library of congress) has sent her and someone else over to do quality
assurance on something they are having built here. She has explained
it four times, but I can’t seem to remember. Something to do with
books for the blind or visually impaired.
Anyway, we went to Fukushima city and reminisced about all
the old places we would frequent. Then we drove out to her town and
she saw many old friends and ex-students. We ate Indian at the place
in Fukushima city and then came back for some Gyoza. Oh it was good
and I got my fill for a while. She plans to come back in mid-August
for a town festival in her old town, that way she can see nearly
everyone she knew when she taught there.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Yesterday we had an international day at Chloe’s school. I usually
love these things, even though they insist on doing them their own way
which is almost always the most inefficient and non-internationalizing
way possible. I mentioned stuff about that above as you probably read
or more likely, skipped. It went ok, but the things I was annoyed at
in the planning were actually annoying at the execution of the event.
Playing with the kids was fun as always, but there were so many things
that simply didn’t make sense.
We got there around 8:15 and the first activity was 9:20
so there was a long wait. First we went to a classroom and did our
introductions. There were two AETs in each classroom in the 4-5-6
grades. In our classroom there was myself and a Canadian AET. We were
in a 6th grade class. First we sat down and they asked us
odd questions, usually in Japanese. Then we did a short introduction.
Then we sang a rainbow song I had never heard of nor sang. Finally,
here’s the annoying part, the students went on with their regular
English class and we assisted. They were learning the Three Little
Pigs, though, as expected, it was the Japanese version of the story.
There was a father pig, and mother pig, and oldest son pig, a second
son pig, and a youngest child pig. The wolf first tried to blow down
the house of the straw, then the house of the tree, then the house of
the brick. We read it and the kids listened and then class was over. I
really wanted more casual talk time, but the teacher had her own plan,
which had little to do with internationalizing.
Then we went into the gym and tried to talk about the US
for 5 minutes. There were 8 of us and we each seemed have our own
little agenda. Some people had a good presentation while other’s seem
to drag on and waste time. Mine wasn’t really that effective. I
brought a big huge 52 oz cup to show the different sizes. This was
supposed to be ok, but we only had 5 minutes and a small black board
to put stuff on and we had to move around the gym. Plus the other
groups were loud so we had to become louder to compensate. We ended up
just tossing a football around some to get the kids moving.
Then they interviewed us, but since they were 1-2-3 grades
it was just “what name”, “whar furom”. Some kids were crying, others
not participating, some just wandering around. The 1-2-3 grades got
two hours, but the 4-5-6 grades only got 45 minutes. Then of course
there was a 10 minute break before the 25 minute break between
classes. For lunch I ate with a 6th grade class and it was
nice, but the teacher constantly pushed kids to ask me questions. I
really don’t like talking while I eat, but it’s one of those things.
They also asked me stuff in English. When I finished the teacher asked
me to sit in the middle of the room so all the kids could look at me
easily. Yea that falls into the “#$%-that category. I just slid around
in the chair and talked to various groups and made jokes about their
name if possible. One girl was named Yuuka, but the way you say floor
is yuka so I would point to the floor and she would laugh. We had
curry rice which really made my day.
Then there was 5th period where we did the
whole “introduce your country in as little time as humanly possible”
game again, 6 more times. That last until about 2:30 which is when we
were supposed to leave, but then there was some presentation about the
school. Wow these kids are going to talk about the school in English?
Nope, it was just in Japanese and I really don’t know why we watched
it. It was nice, I guess, but it was just a presentation in Japanese
about the school and how it’s different from all the other schools. By
different I mean exactly the same. Then there was another presentation
about something else, finally one about a mythical story where they
found some dinosaur bones. Then they made a tunnel for us to walk
through as we leave. Hmmm, what happens when 4-5-6 graders make a
tunnel? It’s about 3 feet tall. So we bent over and passed through for
a while then got tired and just stood up and started doing high-5s as
Oh, coolest thing about the whole day…there was a second
grade kid name Raian, which is what my name is in Japanese. He even
had the same kanji I use whenever I use kanji, which is really never.
But when he said his name it was Ryan. He seemed like a cool little
I have no classes today or tomorrow and yet it is crucial
I drive here both days. They seemed a little weary about me taking
time off last Friday. I felt a little bad, but could have easily come
in if I had any classes. On Wednesday last week I found out my new
schedule for August onward. I knew the schools, but not the days I
would be going there. Mondays will be Ohse JHS and/or a small
elementary school nearby. I think it will be a week on and then a week
off for the ES. Tuesdays will be Konan. Wednesdays are the new ES also
near Ohse JHS, Thursdays are Ohse as they are now, Fridays back to
Konan. It’s about as good as I could ask for I suppose. I pretty much
take care of the whole area from Koriyama city to the lake, and I
drive myself which saves them money. I really have been meaning to
ride my bike to Ohse, but it was either been raining or I had a flat
tire or some other preventative reason.
this chair would totally cheer me up. Or more appropriately, it would
"chair" me up.