Monday, October 31, 2005

One of these things is not like the other....

One of these things just doesn't belong: can you tell me which one is not like the others by the time I finish this song?

Our school festival was on this past Saturday, and I took part in it with the PTA chorus. We sang three Japanese songs, very popular ones, mostly from TV Dramas (soap operas). I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to having a choir director again who speaks the same language as me. There's no overestimating how much of a difference it makes.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

These are a few of my favourite things...

I don't use the web version of Gmail very often but when I do, it makes me so happy to see that every two minutes the email that I am writing is autosaved.... isn't that fantastic? I don't know how many times I've threatened to throw my computer out the window because I just lost the email that I had typed three times over.... We all know that feeling. And Gmail has finally decided to do something about it.

Japan has many national holidays. I have had very few five day work weeks, and this week because I was at school on Saturday for school festival, I don't have to be there today. And then Thursday is a holiday. And then November 23 is a holiday. Yippie!

Friday, October 28, 2005

From the mouths of babes....

My San-nensei students had to write a speech this week on "My Favourite Thing." And the I had to re-write them. Before any editing took place, however, these were some of my personal favourites.....

I like game.
Why when game happy.
I fand game card game.
Then is hate game.
But exciting good expect.
Thank you.


My favorite thing is tennis.
I was in tennis club.
My racket is "Muscle Power 7200"
I am sometimes done tennis in America to watch TV.
It is interesting to tennis watch in America.
When the watch is played in America, it is always midnight in Japan.
I want to watch the one on TV in the afternoon in Japan.
Then everyone plays tennis much more.
Thank you.


I like to play time.
When I'm playing, I feel happy.
After I played, I get a sad felling.
Because I want to playing some more.
It is important for me to play time.
I can't live without playing time
I can't give in to anybody on this playing time.


I like confectionary very much, because it is delicious.
I want to eat a lot of confectionary.
I don't want to be fat.
I like a lot of confectionaries, so I can't choose the best one.
Thank you.


It may be said a favorite and does not understand it, but there is a hobby?
My hobby is to read a book and listen to music. And I play the piano well. I am relaxed very much when I listen to music. I think that it is a hobby to feel that I am happy. What is your hobby? It is a hobby to feel that you are happy. Please try to look for it if there is not it. Surely I should be found.


I like money.
I like saving money.
I have a lot of money in the bank.
Money makes me happy.
When I was three years old I teared a hundred-yen bill.
So my parents were angry.
Money is very useful.
It is important to saving money.
We don't live without money.
I don't won't waste money as much as I can.
Thank you.


That's all for today, folks. But don't you worry! I've got another post of them ready and waiting.... It occurs to me that this English is almost better than the Jengrish that we see in stores or on clothes.... I bet the translators get their kids to do the work....

Thursday, October 27, 2005

'Cause it looked just like a dream...

While I was sleeping away last night I was diagnosed with chronic heart disease and was told that my heart would fail me within the week. It wouldn't hurt, they said, my heart would just stop beating at some point and they were sorry, but there was nothing they could do. So I went along with my business and I'm sure that I told other people too but I distinctly remember walking up to Dan and interrupting him whilst he was in the middle of a serious business conversation and flat out said, "Dan, I'm going to die in a week." And then I walked away.
Then the phone rang and I picked it up and I heard a cheery voice saying, "Hi, this is Tracy from Roger's Wireless, will you speak with Ahmrad?" It then occurred to me that I wasn't sleeping anymore... I promplty said, "No, I won't. I'm living in Japan right now, and it's actually the middle of the night. You just woke me up." "Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry! I'll call back another time." It would be fine with me if she never called back. It really would. Anyhow I hung up the phone and within 45 min I was back to sleep.
The next thing I knew I was sitting at my desk already in the staffroom at school, and when I looked over at the front of the staffroom I was sorely disappointed- my Kyoto Sensei was gone for the day, so Kocho Sensei was sitting in his place. We don't talk very much, him and I. As I was doing lesson prep for the day I began to hear the faint strumming of a banjo, incredibly akin to that that begins a certain song sung by Kermit the Frog... I realized that the song was coming from the PA system, and that it was indeed "Rainbow connections." I started singing along...
"Have you been half asleep, and have you heard voices? I've heard them calling my name..."
I hear another voice join me, but this voice is doing an imitation of Kermmie: it's my Kocho Sensei...
"Is this the sweet song that calls to young lovers? The voice might be one and the same.... I've heard it too many times to ignore it, I know they're wrong, wait and see: some day we'll find it, the rainbow connection: the Lovers, the Dreamers and me. La-dee-da-dee-dee-da-doo...."
And then, out of nowhere, comes this infernal beeping...


Time to get up.

Is it any wonder I feel like I hardly slept when I get up every morning? Just so you know, this amount of activity in my night is not an abnormal occurance.

And yes, there was actually a phonecall from Rogers Wireless. I've left the continent and still, still I can't escape telemarketers!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I'd just like to say

that there's only 53 more days until I come home for Christmas. There's only seven more monday mornings that I have to face until I wake up on a monday morning in the (hopefully) snowy city of Hamilton! How happy is that?

In the meantime, on November 3rd there's another National holiday so I think I'm going to head to my church that day and help out with a neighbourhood kids day. On November 5th Laura and I will be heading to Kyoto to check out the Imperial palace with some folks from my church. I don't really have any plans after that yet, but it's so exciting to think that November 5th is already next week! That means that it's my dear brother David's birthday soon. And just for the record it was my dear sister's birthday yesterday, Happy 26th Birthday Mar! November 17th my supervisor is coming to observe a class, and then I have to have a meeting with him and his assistant. And then, o happy day, we have exams. And another national holiday. Which means little to zero work that has to be done by me at school, so I might take a few days of holiday. And after that we'll be starting in on the last week in November/first week in December already! When I look at it from this perspective it doesn't seem like a long time. When I look at it from the day to day perspective it seems like eons. I want to see my boy and my family.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Foreverything else, there's mastercard.

Sometimes.... sometimes... sometimes I have a very hard time getting my thoughts onto the screen in any way that makes sense and that doesn't sound pathetic. So many times, the experiences I have here aren't documented simply because I can't find the words to communicate them.

I'm at the Parish Pagoda right now, home of the three dashing Redeemer Alumni. Instead of driving myself crazy again this weekend I elected to come straight here after work yesterday and drive the boys crazy for the weekend. It has been fun thus far, and my stay will end tormorrow morning when I go catch the train for church. It's super fun just to hang out with folks and have other people in the apartment that you can interact with, make comments to about fun and stupid things, and just generally have a good time with.
I'm fabulously happy for my dear Kenny who seems to be having a heck of a time out in Fukuchiyama, but I gotta say I'm a bit jealous of her too-good-to-be-true experiences... Well, I know they are true, I'm not doubting her one bit. But my school staff is so different from hers.... Any teachers at my school other than the English teachers either ignore me or tell me (in their very limited English) that I should please answer the phone when I'm the closest one to it... when they know darn well that I can't speak or understand Japanese. Oy vay, talk about feeling useless and frustrated.
On Tuesday, I had one third year class in the afternoon. That was it for the day. The class consisted of me stationed at the front of the classroon and the students coming up to me, one by one, each reading the same travel dialogue with me...

Customer: I would like __________ tickets for ____________, please.
Clerk: One way or round trip?
Customer: _______________, please.
Clerk: How long will you stay in ______________?
Customer: ________________.
Clerk: That'll be $ ______, please.
Customer: Okay, here you go. What time does the next _____________ leave?
Clerk: __________.
Customer: Thank you.
Clerk: You're welcome.

(You wanna know the sad thing? I just wrote that out from memory. I don't have a copy of it here.) The dialogue was homework from the previous week: they had to fill in all the blanks with appropriate answers such as how many tickets, to what country, how long they will stay, how much it will cost, what mode of transportation they will use to get there... So at least the dialogue wasn't the *exact* same from student to student. But still, there were 35 students in the class, so I got good and tired of it by the end of the 50-minute class. To my great amusement, I had four of these exact same classes yesterday.... with 35 students in each class.... hmm... let's see.... 35x4... what is that, 130? One Hundred and thirty of the exact same conversations.... or practically the exact same conversations....
One funny one, I think the kid watches too many Master Card commercials...

Customer: I would like _____4_____ tickets for ___Australia____, please.
Clerk: One way or round trip?
Customer: ___One way____, please.
Clerk: How long will you stay in __Australia__?
Customer: ___Forever__.
Clerk: That'll be $ _priceless___, please.

I thought it was kinda cute. I laughed.
Anyhow, I think we're going to watch a movie or something now.... buh bye!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

It passeth

Eternal Sunshine

I just came back from viewing "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," and I freely admit that it has tired me out. If there has ever been a movie fashioned in such a post-modern way, this is it. I suppose that it's somewhat reminiscent of Memento in that way, you have to piece the puzzle together as you watch it in order to obtain any story line.
However, and you are more than welcome to correct me if I'm wrong, I admitted long long ago that Philosophy is not my area of specialization, I'm not sure if the actual theme of the movie is really post-modern at all. From what I remember of Contemporary Fiction, the idea is that we write our own history- there is no overarching history, each person has the control and the right to form their own story. Eternal Sunshine dangles the option of changing the world, changing your story and re-writing it in the true post-modern fashion. And then what do they do? They snatch it back up and say "Fate is fate, buddy. You can't escape it. Destiny. Predestination. Call it what you will. You can run but you can't hide!" Ok, so I'm paraphrasing here. I really hate outright spoiling movies for people, so I am going to refrain for the time beign from actually developping and explaining this idea, and perhaps if you haven't seen the movie then I've just really confused you. Perhaps if you have seen the movie I've still confused you, or maybe you agree or disagree. I think I need to watch it again. But it just strikes me as somewhat oxymoronic, given the presentation and the content. But are presentation and content different things? I don't even want to think about that right now. It's time for me to go to bed.

Monday, October 17, 2005

It approacheth

I love my Brian

I think that I have the most fantastic boyfriend in the world. Though Michelle, I must say, yours is quite a catch too. He featured quite prominently in events this afternoon. Tomorrow marks October 18th on the calendar, which marks the 10 month anniversary of Brian and I dating. Yay! To my complete surprise and delight, when I returned home from school today, there was Jrod in my apartment building waiting for me... When we went inside, he presented me with a beautiful bunch of ten roses from my Brian. Awww. I'm spoiled!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

1 more post before bed:

On a scale of 1-10, how strange is it that I just found out about an earthquake here in Japan, just north of Tokyo, by listening to the CBC Radio One news online? I find that this radio station has actually been the source for almost all of my Japan news-- like when we were due to have a typhoon and all that...
I wonder how many people have heard of or remember the acappella group "Rhythm and News." They popped into my head for some reason tonight but I have been able to find very little trace of their existence via the all knowing search engine. It's a shame. I liked their music. I think I'd like to get ahold of the stuff they recorded. Did they only record one album? I don't remember.


I feel vaguely disconnected from my fantastic friends in Ontario... I was perusing blogs again today, and something hit me: there are very few bloggers in our little circle who actually make use of their blogs on anything that might be considered a semi-regular basis. Now I realize that most people have a little bit more (ok, a lot more) of a life than I do at present, so there are many other more exciting things that they can be doing instead. It's just an observation.

I have to go back to school tomorrow. It was a nice three day weekend. I don't remember what I'm doing tomorrow, I hope the lesson plans are done already. Church was good today, but it was a little interesting having a sermon preached on that ever-controversial topic of homosexuality translated from Japanese to English. I'm sure it was a very interesting sermon but when it was translated to English it just became a list of facts. On the plus side, we sang two fantastic songs in church.... Unfortunately there was no one to exchange amused glances with as we sang the song that is featured so prominantly in a Mr Bean sketch... But I did feel very special as we sang "O Sacred Head Now Wounded," as I had pointed out to Pastor Ken when I was at their place for dinner that it was one of my favourite hynms.... Pastor Ken said that he'd work it into a service sometime for me. It's like getting a song dedicated to you on the radio... heehee. Anyhow, now I have a copy of "O Sacred Head" in Japanese. I think we should sing it in Japanese at First. :)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

I'm bored

I wanna go home and wake people up. I was excited to have a weekend that allowed me to sleep in instead of getting up early to visit people or having to get up early because I was already visiting people. But I ran out of things to do today. I even went for a walk in the pouring rain. I'm sure my neighbours thought I was crazy. Crazy Gaijin But after surfing blogs, writing a few emails and watching random old newsclips from CBC, I'm bored out of my tree and I feel like annoying someone. If Sam were here I'd be on the floor right now untying his shoes and pulling them really tight, as I so often did in England. If Brian was here I'd mess up his hair and tease him about his growing mullet until he stopped looking at his computer and agreed to play Settlers with me. If anyone was here... oh the things I can think of right now to annoy people. Wow, I really am a youngest child. Here's a bit of advice for you: don't ever let your youngest child get too bored or you'll have to face the annoying repercussions. Consider this fair warning.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Oh what a night

I wonder if there are other people in this world who dream as much as I do in any given night. This is a summary of last night's dream (I have to list the facts, because everything else is starting to get lost in my head already...)
-Brian and I were looking to buy a house in Grand Rapids, but out in the country
-The house that we decided on sometimes had white siding and at other times had red brick walls
-there was a room about two feet wide over the garage door
-I had already sewn curtains for the windows
-Marya ane Eric were to be our neighbours
-Marya had cleaned the walls in the kitchen but in doing so got mudstains on the wall... so she called Global and ordered a map of how to get the mudstains off
-The house was right around the corner from Grace Christian Fellowship, Gary's church that I went to several times in second year
-Rebecca Welfare and some others (who remain faceless in my head) all squeezed into Brian's car with us as we drove the countryside looking for something (I don't know what)

So that's the dream. I have strange dreams every night here in Japan-- I know that I had dreams often in Canada, but I swear they are increasing in frequency now. They say that every dream that you remember, and every shift in the dream represents a brief moment when your sleep was interrupted and you woke up. Thus, a night with four random dreams that I remember indicates that I woke up four times. Maybe it's all the noise in this neighbourhood. I'm in the "suburbs" of Kobe, but I live in a five floor apartment building: on one side of the building (right outside my front door) is the highway and a parking lot; on the other side of my building (right under my balcony) is another huge parkinglot which might as well be a highway with the amount of cars that come and go in the middle of the night. The firetrucks and police cars use the highway to get from one 'burb to the next, and the sirens they use aren't any regular north american sirens-- no, they're ear-piercing wails of sirens that bounce off of the apartment buildings and get reflected right in through my balcony door. I assure you, living in down-town hamilton is infinitely more quiet than this place! Upper Wellington was even more quiet-- even with the fire station down the street and the uncanny attraction for accidents that our stoplights had. Oy vay.
In conclusion, I think that it's actually rather mean to wish a person 'sweet dreams,' cause you're pretty much sentancing him or her to a night of sleep interruption.

****Post Script: I almost forgot to mention one of the most unbearable forms of noise pollution: Vans driving up and down the winding streets of a neighbourhood (or just parking in one spot, for that matter) shouting political or advertising slogans and campaigns out of huge sound systems strapped to the top of the vehicles... and when I say shouting, I mean shouting. There is a van somewhere in the vancinity at this moment and I would hazard a guess that it's a good 15 min walk away. Make it SHUT UP!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

More pictures

Click here to see more thanksgiving pictures. Aptly enough you can find them listed under "Canadian Thanksgiving in Himeji" cause well, it was Canadian Thanksgiving and we were certainly in Himeji.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

What have I got to be thankful for?

Everything. It's been a fantastic year. The most amazing gentleman in the world sought me out and I could not be more thankful for him. I graduated from a great university without getting sick of the schooling part at all. I have awesome friends the world over and beyond. I received the opportunity to travel to Japan and try my hand at teaching ESL. And in Japan, I have Canadian friends living so close that a bunch of us got to get together yesterday to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving!

Wanna see pics of me? There's not a doubt in my mind that my dear Kenny will grace you with some unfortunate pics at some point or another...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Burned, underdone, crude..

It's been raining all day today. This fact was made most obvious to me when I had finished washing my clothes in the bathroom tub and it occurred to me that I had no place to hang them but outside. So outside they went, and luckily only the clothes on the out-most line became more wet than they had been before they went out. The rest dripped water until I had an inch of wetness on my porch (you have to remember that I don't own a washing machine, which means that due to the lack of 'spin cycle' the clothes are hung up absolutely drenched). It stopped raining long enough for me to run out and get some groceries, but the clothes aren't anywhere near dry. They're not dripping anymore, but they just might require another two days of hanging in this weather. Oh how I long for the day when I shall once more have access to a washing machine and dryer.
I decided at the store today that I would invest in some cereal.... At my grocery store, I had few choices other than Kellogs, which is fine by me, I like the way Kellogs does cereal. I ended up with a box of "Corn Frosties" and "(something in kanji) buran" -- equivalents to Frosted Flakes and All Bran. Mmm, and I got a small container of "Lady Borden Ice Cream Cookie" -- as good as Reid's Cookies and Cream ice cream, I'd have to say. It's my first container of ice cream in this country. Costs an arm and a leg, but somethings are worth it. English Muffins! I found English Muffins! There's only four in a pack, but they're pretty big. I bought them too. What a day for food. Mmmmmm.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Nonsensical English

The Mysterious Key Granny exisits Somewhere!!
by Yusuke Teshima

Mysterious Key Granny explained the lyrics of "Jinjiro-Ge" an Indian song.
What do you think of that?
Here is a song that goes as follows:

Father, Mother,
Asakusa Go,
It is the cow,
Panarama See.

Children in the Taisho era used to enjoy singing this song merrily.
Even though it sounds nonsense, it was said to be English song.
"Jinjiro-Ge" is one of their nonsensical sort of songs.
Fortunately my sixty-five years old mother memorized the lyrics of this "Jinjiro-Ge" and my children took it down the musical notation.
To tell the truth, I also became a latchkey husband last year. I went home without taking our house key and there was no body at home. I had such a terrible time walking up and down the stairs of the Danchi, our housing development apartment, waiting for my wife to come back. From this experience I got some idea of how the boy in this story feels.
I hope the Mysterious Key Granny exisits somewhere!

From one of the few English books in our school library....

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Following the herd...

At the risk of looking silly after posting this, I googled "Mooe Music".... turns out that there is a famous Polish violinist with the last name of Mooe... however, I know for a fact that this is indeed a typo. Why? Because I am pleased to announce that I know enough katakana to read "Muu-do" at the bottom. Kind of disappointing, actually-- you know how they have cats and dogs singing to christmas music? I thought that maybe the cows now got their turn... I'd buy a cd of that moosic.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

School 'n' stuff

Tomorrow I teach my second very own lesson. I'm teaching the second years (8th graders) about Canadian Thanksgiving. I'm learning that there really isn't a 'Canadian' reason for thanksgiving... The Loyalists just brought it with them when they came to Canada. So I'm also teaching about American Thanksgiving.
Looking at my academic calendar, I noticed that I only have five five-day weeks left this semester. That means that half of the remaining weeks this term are three or four-day weeks. Not bad, eh?
We get next Monday off due to a national holiday, and then at the end of the weeks the students have midterms already. I will be recording my voice for listening comprehension tests for English midterms at some point between tomorrow and next Thursday.
I confirmed the booking of my ticket home for Christmas yesterday, so that was pretty exciting. December 17's the day!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

New quote from our very own Kenny

"I don't know why everyone's so obsessed with peace!"