Last updated 6/18/09



Monday, September 29, 2008

A million points

This is from failblog.org, but if one of my kids had written this, I would have given full credit, if not more than full.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The state of our fate

Apologies for the minority of Japan-related posts.  In truth I've been kind of lazy and irresponsible as far as taking pictures.  I just often have this fear of looking like a tourist.  I also seem to have lost my USB-camera cord, so I'll need to get a new one.  

Anyway, here is something I read today that kind of alarmed me, and I wanted to share it.  While I sometimes hesitate to criticize France because of my sister's affinity for it, I often cannot contain my disdain for certain aspects of its culture and people.  I think it's mutual - French folk are not known for their love of Americans - a fact I hope my sister doesn't have to learn when she travels there for the spring semester.

I'm usually fairly protective of our US government, because it is ours.  These days, however, there are few excuses for many of the blunders that are being made, and I am increasingly forced to don the veil of the skeptic.  And the state of our nation is the result of nonpartisan, or perhaps I should say bipartisan, failings.  

We are becoming France, but worse in many regards.  I do not think this course is irreversible, but it is certainly alarming.  And it really is more extensive than this article suggests.  The growing power of American secularists and their assertions that religion has no place in government are frighteningly evocative of European values, especially French.  

Certainly every country has some value to the world, and France is, of course, no different...its history is not entirely disgraceful (at least no more so than many other countries) and its people have made many contributions to the world, particularly in the fields of art and science.  One France is enough for me, though.  God save the USA.

Pirate Attack (Pirates +1)

There's not really anything funny about this story, but it does hint at pirate supriority in reference to the Eternal Battle.  Don't see many stories about ninjas these days, which either means they're all but extinct or they're doing their job really well.

"Pirate attacks worldwide have surged this year and Africa remains the world's top piracy hotspot, with 24 reported attacks in Somalia and 18 in Nigeria this year, according to the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting center."

Scoreboard:
Ninjas: 1
Pirates: 1

Killer Fashion

I was just at the grocery store and the girl ahead of me had these ridiculous fingernails. I can only assume (and hope) they were fakes. They were about a half an inch, blue, and looked to be encrusted with some kind of fake, diamond-esque gems. I was seriously taken aback.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Metallica...

I was excited about the new Metallica album. Really, I was. And it was on sale. So I picked it up. It is what I would call another disappointment. Don't get me wrong, it sucks no where near as 'much as St. Anger, but it is definitely not what critics seem to be making it out to be. The single "The Day That Never Comes" isn't bad, and there are glimpses in other songs that are promising, they just never seem to bring it all together. Most of the songs just seem like a bunch of riffs they thought were cool in jam session thrown together. A little editing would have helped out a lot. I'm not against long songs, but the songs length needs to be necessary. Length for lengths sake just doesn't work. Definitely give it a listen before picking it up.

Note: Haven't posted in a while do to the amount of work I have been pretending to do. Will be posting again with more frequency.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Stupid Tea

Green tea tastes like grass to me.  Not that I know what grass tastes like, but I imagine it has the earthy, weedy taste that green tea possesses.  I decided to do a little research on it today, and damn there are a lot of kinds of green tea.

Well, at least green tea I can deal with.  It's mugicha that I have a problem with.  The taste, the smell...I mean, I just can't understand how anyone could be thinking "Mmmm, I could really go for some barley juice right about now."  That's essentially what mugicha is - it's barley tea.  Yuck.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Japanese people say the darndest things

[Edit 4:28 PM (JST - Japanese Standard Time)]

You've probably seen examples of the often funny things that Japanese people say or write (don't get me wrong, this isn't limited to Japanese people).  Well, of course I've heard and read some off-color remarks in my time here.  I'm always on the lookout for signs/shirts/etc, but they're not always as easy to find as one might think.  Either that or I'm becoming dangerously used to bad English.  Anyway, I just wanted to quickly share a few of my recent favorites.

The other day I was talking with one of the JTEs about clean-up at the school.  Japanese schools don't have custodians - the students are expected to clean, with teachers supervising.  She mentioned that it's tiring to manage them, especially when there are too many students and not enough jobs.  I told her that it's probably better to be a manager than a worker, though...at least managers have power.  At that she laughed kind of maniacally and replied "Yes, yes - I need power!"

For my first lesson, I assigned all my first-year students a homework assignment.  They had to write a short self introduction.  Many of them have been the same kind of thing so far: 
My name is so-and-so. I like (sport,food,etc). I am (age) years old. 
But some of them have stood out.  Here are a few excerpts I kind of liked:

"Please teach me intelligible English class."

"I like fruits pain apple."

"I don't like English because I like English but I like English."

"I don't play the game."

First off - don't worry, I won't teach you intelligible English class.  I don't think that it is physically possible.  Second, the girl obviously meant that she likes pineapple, which is a fruit, but damn...pain apple sounds really badass.  Maybe a good band name?  Pain Apple.  Third sentence, I have no idea, so I won't even try.  Fourth - I really have to appreciate that one.  We need more people who "don't play the game."

[Edit] Just remembered another one I liked.  During one of my classes, the students had to give oral presentations about different aspects of Japanese culture.  One girl was talking about games and activities at Japanese festivals, and trying to give a simple description of each.  For example, there was this game kind of like horseshoes, where people try to throw a ring onto a little stand.  My favorite game/explanation, however, was "scooping goldfish."  She had a little cutout of a fish in a bowl and another of a little net.  While demonstrating with the cutouts, she explained.  "Scooping goldfish is...scooping goldfish."  I love these kids. 

Not everything is amusing, though.  Every so often I'll hear or see something quite moving, often because of an earnest attempt to convey a simple but important idea in another language.  There's a boy in one of my classes who is deaf.  He's really bright, though - he's in one of the upper level English courses.  One of the first lines in his self-intro was, "I can't hear the noise."  Damn.  I don't know, something about that just really gets me.

On that note, I'll end for now.  I don't really want to take away from that with something light or silly.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ugh

Nothing witty for this entry - my gas has been turned off again for reasons unknown to me. Damn, I hate cold showers.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Rivetting News

CNN headline: Big snake found in road

Simply amazing coverage. It's not even a little bit of a waste of your time. I love the American mass media.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Not-so-convenient stores?

I have to say, compared to Japanese convenient stores ("conbinis"), American ones just can't really measure up. That is one of the little things I like about being over here. You can pay bills, buy tickets for sports events, concerts, etc, buy many kinds of liquor, household supplies, and if you buy something that needs to be heated, the clerk will personally microwave it for you.

And tell me this - can you buy 4 liter jugs of liquor in a convenience store back home? I think not (although someone may correct me - maybe I just wasn't looking hard enough).


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Master of WTF

So some upfront warnings about this post: it's not related to Japan, it is related to video games, and I may use foul language.  Yes, actually I'm quite sure I will.

So every once-in-a-while the mood strikes me to play an old game. You know - an oldie but a goodie.  Recently I've been playing this old strategy game called Master of Orion.  It was pretty unique for its time, and in some ways is along the same vein as Civilization-type games, but in space.

The game has a little bit of a learning curve, and the graphics are none too special, but that doesn't usually phase me.  After a little online research and toying around, I quickly developed a feel for the interface and how the game works.  Then, all of a sudden, I lost.  I have to say, this is one of the most frustrating, "WTF" losses I have ever experienced.  And I wish I could say it was isolated, but it seems to randomly happen everytime I play this game, so I need to frequently save so that I can reload if it happens (and when I reload the random game over usually doesn't come until later).

So let me paint a picture of the experience:


1. Ah, title screen looks good.


2. Ok, getting into the groove. Have my starting planet and a colony.


3. Hey, things are going pretty well.  Got myself another colony.  No sign of aliens yet.


4. Soon I'll have a whole em- wait, what the hell is this?  "Identify this class of ship"?  How the hell should I know?  Ok, looks like a Banshee?


5.  Another? Geez, I don't know...looks like the Enterprise to me. Ok, how about Dark Star?


6. WHAT? Are you f&*king kidding me?!  I couldn't ID some ships, so I lose?  What the hell kind of strategy game is this?  So, like, a bunch of ships secretly rolled up to my planet and since I didn't know what they were, they raped me?


7.  Oh, so a bunch of guys in robes took over my planet.  Great.  Awesome.

Seriously, this happens to me at random points in my games, and I have no idea why.  I've looked it up on the internet, Wikipedia, and checked out some online strategy guides for the game, and there is NO mention of this phenomenon.  You'd think more people would have complained about or at least noted this shit.

Gah!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Go Straight for 3 blocks, then keel over and die.

More updates coming soon, I promise. However, I have learned something about being a teacher: while I thought that lawyers and consultants and their ilk work tough hours, I had failed to consider the fact that for a teacher the clock is irrelevant. Sure, you can go home, but those papers you have to grade, those tests you have to make, those lessons you have to plan - they do not cease to exist between the hours of 8:00 and 5:00. This is good work experience, but damn. Now excuse me while I get back to planning a lesson involving a town of a my own design and giving directions. Yes, students will need to learn how to direct me from the Taco and Pizza Restaurant to the Hospital.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Special Presentation

Took me long enough to get to, I know, but here's footage from my first night here. Brought to you by Creap, which I discovered is not coffee as I thought, but actually instant cream. Mmmm...?


video

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Something you don't see everyday

If someone would be kind enough to caption this for me:

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thank God for Gas

Never thought I'd say anything like this: Thank God my gas is back.
That means tomorrow I can take a hot shower.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Foiled!

So I went to the grocery after work and bought a number of chili-related items, hoping to stumble my way through a Japanized (read: bastardized) version of the delicious cuisine, sine' chili powder or chili sauce. I found some spice red peppers and tabasco sauce that I was going to muck around with, though. Anyway, get home and try to melt some butter in a pan, but my oven won't light. Neither will my bath-heater-thing. Guess my gas got turned off.
Sure enough, I got a couple bills today, and one (from what I can tell) is from the gas company and has an outstanding balance from June and July. Well, paid that at the convenience store tonight, so hopefully they'll turn it back on sometime soon.

I'm a little bitter right now, so I leave you with this ineptly named Japanese product and equally inappropriate caption:



Testimonial: When I get up in the morning, I really need some creap's creamy powder to get me going.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Commendable

It may just be a political tactic, but I continue to be impressed with both candidates as they continue to take the high road this election (so far).