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Jump to March:
    Week 1:   1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th  
    Week 2:   9th   10th   11th   12th   13th   14th   15th   16th  
    Week 3:   17th   18th   19th   20th   21st   22nd   23rd  
    Week 4:   24th   25th   26th   27th   28th   29th   30th   31st  
Image Jump:
  • A Sakugi Village Sign
    My Beijing Trip: (including next month)
  • Confucius Statue
  • A Chinese McDonalds
  • Tiananmen Square
  • Chinglish Sign
  • Mao
  • Nine-Dragon Screen
  • Forbidden City
  • Men in Uniform
  • Pathway of Mini Paintings
  • The Great Wall
  • A Chinese Toilet
  • The Pretty Darn Cool Wall
  • The Summer Palace
  • Summer Palace Detail
  • Odd Signs
  • The Temple of Heaven Park
  • The White Dagoba
  • A Chinese Garden
  • Week 1

    Monday, Mar 1

      IN A NUTSHELL: Not So Good Tidings

      The Latest From Miyoshi Kate, the Miyoshi ALT, called me today, telling me about Miyoshi Jr. High since I would be taking her place there. She was sportingly honest. She said she had specifically requested that she wanted to transfer out of Miyoshi Jr High and that there are kids with behavioral problems there. Not to mention that the JTE was a 'give me an activity right on the spot' kind of person (which is what frustrates me the most about Tomomi-sensei.) The only thing good she told me was that it was the second smallest junior high school in Miyoshi. I thought it would be the biggest and most inner-city-ish. Anyway, she kind of scared me saying that I would be going there two days a week, not one, and that I might not go to my elementary as much, the idea of which made me sad. I live for my elementary. I need to get this confirmed.

      More Naked Men! I left the TV on in the background after Conan was over and suddenly, a documentary about the Naked Man festival came on! I immediately put a tape in and started recording. I need evidence of this festival to show my friends back home (as if my entire roll of pictures of buns is not proof enough.) The documentary focused on the Okayama celebration and it was interesting to compare the huge, 9000-men-in-loincloths craziness to the smaller Kui one.

    Tuesday, Mar 2

      IN A NUTSHELL: Not So Bad Tidings

      Confirmed and Denied I checked out a lot of the information Kate told me. My supervisor tells me that I will definitely keep elementary school and am only going to Miyoshi once a week. However (however, however) I was talking with my tutor, who used to be an English teacher. She said that she visited Miyoshi Jr. High once and said there were plenty of problem kids and behavioral issues. In a country where discipline is guilt-based not consequence-based, I have to cross my fingers. Can't they institute detentions or something? Actually, detentions would be meaningless since the kids are here all the time (usually until 5pm) and already are required to clean their school. Coincidentally, I went to the discipline and motivation workshop at the last conference (only because I liked the speaker) so I have a few ideas, but mostly know that there is very little I can do. Well, I guess I was right... it will make me REALLY appreciate what I have here.

      Letters and Pictures I got a bundle of handwritten letters in the mail today! They were sent (via my mom) from some third graders from my elementary school. It was really an unexpected surprise! I still need to figure out how to best use them, but it is very exciting (for Tomomi too), and VERY cute. I also got my rolls of film back. Although I showed my tutor the ones from the snow festival, I kind of hesitated about the other pictures. An ENTIRE roll of men's buns makes me looks awfully pervish.

      Car Stupid? For some reason, it seemed to me that I would need oil before I would need to change my oil. But I didn't need oil by a long shot when it came time. Perhaps I'm basing my observation on my first car - a Volkswagen Bug - which always seemed to be out of oil but that I rarely took to get a change, unlike paranoid now where I take my car in TOO MUCH. Hmm. Well, at least the gals at the Shell station are really cool about it.

    Wednesday, Mar 3

      IN A NUTSHELL: Doll Day

      Normally, I Wouldn't Mind Two Guys Fighting Over Me But in this case, they were four years old and acting a bit insanely. These two munchkins were getting physically violent about who would get to sit with me at lunch (as my suggestion that the three of us sit at the same table fell on deaf ears.) Earlier, one of them was being really nasty, pulling on my clothes and hitting me to get my attention, so I ignored him, but then later, he was suddenly really, really sweet and took my hand and asked really nicely if I would sit with him. So I said okay. But suddenly the OTHER violent kid decided he wanted to sit with me too and picked a fight about it. In the end, after the teacher had taken them aside and talked with them, we all sat at the same table. What was funny about it was that neither of these kids had ever cared before whether I sat by them or not. I've certainly had one or two of the girls ask me to sit at their table in the past, but rarely, if ever, a boy. It was fine, though. At lunch, because today is Hina Matsuri (Doll Day, or Girls Day) the potatoes were shaped like a doll, with a little pea as the head and a slice of ham was the cloak. It was very amusing. I found myself wondering if today was my last nursery school day. I know I am not continuing in April, but I don't know if the next two Wednesdays are normal here. Just in case, I went and visited a lot of tables at lunch.

      Sweets Eikaiwa was in the Other Room because the Big Room was being used for something else. The Other Room is a really cute little tatami room off to the side. We rolled in a blackboard and were set. I was really surprised when Odagawa-san and Maruyama-san brought sweets to celebrate Dolls Day. (Come to think of it, maybe that is why there were SO MANY munchies in the staff room stash today.) We ate something sort of like rice crispie treats, just without the marshmallow, and something shaped like a cheetoh, but having nothing to do with cheese. I definitely don't need dinner tonight and the sugar is boosting some energy back into my wiped system (I've been inexplicably tired all day.) Cute Post Office Guy had been on a trip to India (complete with a near mugging), so I was grilling him about it during the beginning of class. He joked that he had stopped in Hong Kong on the way back and now had a bad cough. (We all backed away for a moment, pretending to be scared.) Anyway, after we discussed song options for the karaoke contest between random English conversation classes in the area, I went up to exercise. O-hisashiburi! It's been a long time since I rode the exercise bike. I stepped on the scale and found out I gained a kilogram in the last few weeks. Argh. That's the second kilogram over my limit and I know it's all chocolate. Go away, unsightly kilograms! Anyway, I did see part of the "Heeey" show as I earned back nine-tenths of a bowl of rice.

    Thursday, Mar 4

      IN A NUTSHELL: A Lack of Perfection

      Snow! The weather report was actually right. Ish. They showed a little snowman on the report last night and it actually snowed last night! It snowed a lot longer than it was supposed to but it melted quick enough. People have asked me several times if I have switched my tires back to regular yet. Of course I haven't. To me, winter doesn't end until April so it did not occur to me.

      Message to the Graduates Tomomi asked me yesterday to give a 'message' to the 9th graders since today is our last English class with them. (Our other scheduled class is inexplicably turning into a tea party.) I got all sentimental (even though I sorta had a 'finally!' feeling) and wrote everyone an individual message on a little piece of colored paper and put a sticker on it. In class, as the students were doing worksheets, I wrote down what I guessed students' names were in a quick seating chart (with question marks next to the ones that mixed me up) then asked Tomomi to double-check it. Turns out, I was completely right! I finally know all the students' names! On the last day I will ever have class with them! Better the last day than never, I suppose. I was really surprised when, at the end of the class (we ended early), two students brought up two posters, one for Tomomi-sensei and one for me! All the kids had signed it and written a personal message! Although they clearly do this for all the teachers, I was really surprised and happy! My favorite English notes were "You are nice teacher!" and "Thank you thank you very very much much." Most of the comments were in Japanese and said things like "Despite our short time together, I enjoyed your class a lot." My favorite was "Thank you for your bright, smiling face" which made me all sniffly.

      Excuse Me While I Whack Myself on the Head I was SO proud of that original activity I came up with on the spot yesterday despite being busy and exhausted. But today, when I actually did it, there were TWO GLARING MISTAKES. In not one, but TWO rows, I had the same word! I swear I did a test run yesterday. I remember thinking I really NEEDED to do one, but I apparently forgot to. ARGH. I hate being stupid. This is the second activity that I had to make a mid-class correction to; the other one was on Tuesday when I did a Grammar Gamb$e. I had everyone bet $5 or $1 per sentence for a total of $60. Except that, for some reason, I had 17 sentences, which does not add up right. I know I checked it, but I realized that I might have added or deleted sentences AFTER I checked. D'oh!

      Koto Practice Today was my final day of koto for this school year. And, to my credit, I did actually practice last week on my own. Still, somehow, I could not get the first part, the easiest part, perfect. We did it four times and I messed up every single time. This is a case of me being too hard on myself, though, because I recovered from the mistakes quickly and could keep pace in general, which I don't think I could have done had I not practiced. It is a really pretty song. (And the other students have recently been working on the same song, no longer doing Sekai-ni Hitotsu Dake no Hana. Though I admit I am curious to hear SMAP on koto...) The music teacher may or may not return to this school. She won't know until next term pretty much.

      AJET Elections I was a good voter and voted for AJET representatives online. I figure that way I won't feel guilty when they write an email saying how few people voted. My feeling is that if someone is motivated enough to take on the extra responsibility, then go for it! Even though I picked my favorite candidates, I think any and all of them would be fine (unlike some elections I know.)

      Ooh, Look! Lord of the Rings kicked butt at the Oscars! Cool! I wonder if they were televised here. Probably while I was at school. Too bad I missed it, it looks like it was funny.

    Friday, Mar 5

      IN A NUTSHELL: Aliens

      More "There is, There are" Reviewing I was going over vocabulary with the 8th graders before doing a drawing activity. I had drawn two very silly pictures, complete with almost everything on their vocabulary list and on one of them, I had snuck in an alien. I really did not think that they would see it squeezed between two buildings, but they all saw it. I listened to the pairs as they described the pictures to each other (using "There is an alien" and "There are two dogs" and so forth) and tried to draw. I paid extra close attention to one fellow who is really funny, but also really lazy and was cheating like hell. He's going to be my troublemaker next year, count on it.

      Beijing Today, I tried to reserve an airline ticket from, gasp, the airline, but they apparently don't do this. (?) The Air China representative asked me to go through a travel agent instead. After that, I debated reserving it on Travelocity instead (since I found good fares before... good fares meaning closer to $1000 than $2000 - sheesh they charge a lot between these two countries) but then realized I hadn't even checked up on what kind of visas might be required. Sure enough, I found out after lots of internet searching, that I need to get a tourist visa from a Chinese Consulate, the closest being in either Osaka or Fukuoka. And they said it could take up to a month if I do it by mail but I have less than a month before spring break. This means I have to use my brain and fast. I found the JTB (Japan Travel Bureau) website and was very proud of myself for locating the business hours for the Hiroshima branch all in Japanese. (The English site was clearly for tourists visiting Japan, not for aliens like me.) I will go there Sunday before the pub quiz and see if they can help. I really want to visit Kenyon in Beijing this month!

    Saturday, Mar 6

      IN A NUTSHELL: Pajamas Are Lovely

      More Snow There was snow on the ground this morning and it snowed ALL DAY. So, I had my heaters on ALL DAY. It was wonderful and cozy in my room and I spent a lovely day writing in my futon under the electric blanket. I did venture into the cold part of my house to do laundry, but other than that, I had a very relaxing day. My to-do list is on a table far away. If the snow doesn't hinder travel too much, I'm off to Hiroshima tomorrow to 1: buy a ticket to China if I can, 2: buy a book on Beijing (if part 1 works), and 3: go to a "Pub Quiz" at a bar in Hiroshima. What is a Pub Quiz? Find out in the next entry.

    Sunday, Mar 7

      IN A NUTSHELL: Chocolate With Chopsticks

      Pub Quiz! I went all the way down to Hiroshima to a gaijin-friendly bar called Kembys for the Pub Quiz I was participating in, without knowing for sure what one was. All I knew is that it was at a Pub, involved a Quiz, and was a fund-raiser for Habitat for Humanity. My only similar experience was at a packed pub in New Zealand. There, every table got a piece of paper with a list of ten questions on a topic. We'd answer, turn it in, tally up the points, then get a new sheet of paper. All with nonstop beer and munchies. It was great! This was pretty similar, it turned out. When I arrived, I found out that the entire place had been rented out just for us (I don't think it is normally open Sunday afternoons) and I saw Carina and Kate (two Bihoku JETs) at the same table so I sat down with them. A fair amount of people filtered in and by the end, probably close to 50 people were there. Our table became our team and we named ourselves "waku-waku" (which, according to one dictionary means "tremble" or "get excited" though I thought it meant "lazing around".) Anyway, Wyoming John (aka the Terminator ALT) was one of the hosts. All the teams got a bunch of blank sheets of paper. John read the questions over the microphone (with multiple choice answers and a spunky Japanese translator) and we wrote down our responses. I totally got the Beatles question wrong (why did I think The Gators? Who are The Gators? I'd never heard of The Alleman's or something, which was the correct answer for The Beatles' original name) but, in general, all team members pulled their weight. The British girls, especially. One round was all Movies: you had to guess the movie from a picture. I probably should have done better in that, really. The only one I knew that no one else seemed to was Twilight Samurai. Oddly, I sucked at the geography questions, but I knew how many pints of blood were in the human body, even if I was talked out of it by someone who rationally said "Well, if you give 10%, you get a pint right, therefore..." We randomly guessed all the agricultural producers of various foods like sugar, coffee, and rice correctly. We also guessed the 4 Middle Eastern countries involved in the 6-day war. Okay they guessed, I just nodded and agreed (though I knew the capitals, even if that was not what was needed.) It was a pretty long quiz with 60 questions and two written tests total. I loved it, though! I love trivia.

      My Chocolate Victory! In between rounds, they had activities to do while we waited for the scores to be tallied. The first activity did not sit well with me at all, but luckily, two other people on my team volunteered. It had one person sit on the other's lap with their hands behind them as the other person unpeeled and fed an orange to them as fast as possible. Something about being forced to eat something from someone else's hands bothered me a lot. Especially oranges which I don't like because of all the little white strands everywhere. I was really worried all the activities would be like this, but nope! The next activity was right up my alley! We had to put on gloves, unwrap a pair of chopsticks, unwrap a Snickers bar, then eat the Snickers bar using only the chopsticks. What? Eat chocolate fast? I can do that! We went in rounds due to space reasons and, during the first round, our team gathered strategy hints. Putting the whole thing in your mouth made it really hard to chew, so we figured chewing and swallowing a little at a time was the way to go. So that's what I did! For some reason, the Japanese girl couldn't get her chopsticks open quickly, so it was me versus Food Man who used brutal force when it came to eating the bar. It was close for awhile and we were both chewing madly (as they played some grooving music to chew to) but in the end, I opened a clean mouth first and won! Woo hoo! Five points for my team! The third in-between-rounds activity was the easiest: feel inside a box to figure out what was inside. We lost two key points because we answered 'lei' instead of 'garland' even though they accepted 'tinsel' as an answer.

      No Raffle Prize, Though After all was done and tallied, and all teams' scores were accounted for, we won third place! What was the prize? Chocolate! Heehee. The team next to us boasted that they would have won if it had not been for the Snickers and Oranges. Afterward, the organizer sold raffle tickets and other things like recipe books and a 'cookie jar' (a jar full of measured ingredients to make cookies with.) I bought a few things. All for a good cause, you know. Cookies. And to top off the evening, I got a ride home! I didn't have to take the bus. I saw Kate's apartment for the first time and learned of this crazy plan of Kate's and Brian's to spend a year in Taiwan and then a year travelling landward to Africa. Brave, brave, blond souls.

    Monday, Mar 8