29 June 2008

Packing

We are nine weeks away from when we have to be out of this apartment. August 31st, we will either be in someone else's house or on a ferry to Kyoto or something. But it's not likely that we will be here. So much to do before we go. I'm pulling things out of the closet, trying to see what stays and what goes. Moving in March helped us cut down on everything a little bit, but there is still so much junk in the apartment to move and throw away. Trying to decide what to keep and not is a nightmare. Who knows what we are going to need in the strange land of the UK.

Yoko got me a nice hat for my birthday.

28 June 2008

Feels okay

25 June 2008

Moving on out

I'm now just three weeks from the end of my full-time time at the university I am currently teaching at. These last three weeks will also mark the last time I'll be teaching English for a little while too. I won't say forever, because what is forever. For now, I don't see myself teaching in the near future.

I don't know if I am content with that part of the decision. In the short run, it's quite obvious that turning down this placement would be ridiculously stupid as it is a ton of free money and two free degrees studying with someone in the top of the field I am currently interested in. But I sort of have the bit of doubt about leaving something that I ultimately enjoy a great deal: teaching basic English to basic English learners. It's easy. It's fun. It's safe. What I will do with my OU degree is anyone's guess, really. I have this dream (dream in the sense of vision, not highest desire) that we will end up in Holland or Finland or Sweden, living the fine Socialist life.

Worst case scenario, I guess I am back here again in five years, which is not a bad thing at all. I'll be able to come back in the South of Japan and do something a little bit more interesting... Maybe. I don't know.

I got my second reader for my MRes dissertation and it looks like a guy (ironically named Guy) who's been around. This could be very good.

24 June 2008

Way to go James Dobson

What an idiot.
"I think [Obama is] deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.

"... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

Takes one to know one, 'eh Jim?

Getting sentimental, Part 1

It's been almost five years since I moved to Japan, and now as I am packing up things little by little and trying to decide what to keep and what to throw away, I am going to wax a bit sentimental, hopefully to helping me accept that I'm actually leaving.

I'm actually leaving. Things have been settled at work, letters have been coming by courier from the University, and we have tickets to leave from Tokyo on September. I am not completely convinced it is going to happen as I still have to get visas for everyone in the family, get my own passport renewed, and actually get on the plane. But I suspect that will all happen in time and if I just relax, it will work it's way out.

Five years ago, just about this time Dan asked me if I was interested in going to Japan. I said yes without really thinking it would happen. I remember trying to envision it all, looking at pictures of Fukuoka and imaging what a Japanese apartment would look like. When we landed in Fukuoka and met everyone, it was completely not what I predicted. It's hard to remember exactly what it was. There were vending machines everywhere. There was seaweed in the spaghetti I ordered. I remember that I was so picky about what I ate when I first came — the pastor was worried and I remember him showing Dan and me this American food menu and asking what I liked for breakfast.

I suppose a lot of it was nerves and a disbelief in it having actually happened. I wrote emails with subject lines that read 'Now, I live in Japan' as though typing it would make it real. It was, especially in the first week and half, completely unreal, and I was expecting that eventually the plane would come and take us back.

20 June 2008

House Negros

Malcom X says it straight:
To understand this, you have to go back to what [the] young brother here referred to as the house Negro and the field Negro — back during slavery. There was two kinds of slaves. There was the house Negro and the field Negro. The house Negroes — they lived in the house with master, they dressed pretty good, they ate good 'cause they ate his food — what he left. They lived in the attic or the basement, but still they lived near the master; and they loved their master more than the master loved himself. They would give their life to save the master's house quicker than the master would. The house Negro, if the master said, "We got a good house here," the house Negro would say, "Yeah, we got a good house here." Whenever the master said "we," he said "we." That's how you can tell a house Negro. 
If the master's house caught on fire, the house Negro would fight harder to put the blaze out than the master would. If the master got sick, the house Negro would say, "What's the matter, boss, we sick?" We sick! He identified himself with his master more than his master identified with himself. And if you came to the house Negro and said, "Let's run away, let's escape, let's separate," the house Negro would look at you and say, "Man, you crazy. What you mean, separate? Where is there a better house than this? Where can I wear better clothes than this? Where can I eat better food than this?" That was that house Negro. In those days he was called a "house nigger." And that's what we call him today, because we've still got some house niggers running around here.
This modern house Negro loves his master. He wants to live near him. He'll pay three times as much as the house is worth just to live near his master, and then brag about "I'm the only Negro out here." "I'm the only one on my job." "I'm the only one in this school." You're nothing but a house Negro. And if someone comes to you right now and says, "Let's separate," you say the same thing that the house Negro said on the plantation. "What you mean, separate? From America? This good white man? Where you going to get a better job than you get here?" I mean, this is what you say. "I ain't left nothing in Africa," that's what you say. Why, you left your mind in Africa. 
On that same plantation, there was the field Negro. The field Negro — those were the masses. There were always more Negroes in the field than there was Negroes in the house. The Negro in the field caught hell. He ate leftovers. In the house they ate high up on the hog. The Negro in the field didn't get nothing but what was left of the insides of the hog. They call 'em "chitt'lin'" nowadays. In those days they called them what they were: guts. That's what you were — a gut-eater. And some of you all still gut-eaters. 
The field Negro was beaten from morning to night. He lived in a shack, in a hut; He wore old, castoff clothes. He hated his master. I say he hated his master. He was intelligent. That house Negro loved his master. But that field Negro — remember, they were in the majority, and they hated the master. When the house caught on fire, he didn't try and put it out; that field Negro prayed for a wind, for a breeze. When the master got sick, the field Negro prayed that he'd die. If someone come [sic] to the field Negro and said, "Let's separate, let's run," he didn't say "Where we going?" He'd say, "Any place is better than here." You've got field Negroes in America today. I'm a field Negro. The masses are the field Negroes. When they see this man's house on fire, you don't hear these little Negroes talking about "our government is in trouble." They say, "The government is in trouble." Imagine a Negro: "Our government"! I even heard one say "our astronauts." They won't even let him near the plant — and "our astronauts"! "Our Navy" — that's a Negro that's out of his mind. That's a Negro that's out of his mind. 
Just as the slavemaster of that day used Tom, the house Negro, to keep the field Negroes in check, the same old slavemaster today has Negroes who are nothing but modern Uncle Toms, 20th century Uncle Toms, to keep you and me in check, keep us under control, keep us passive and peaceful and nonviolent. That's Tom making you nonviolent. It's like when you go to the dentist, and the man's going to take your tooth. You're going to fight him when he starts pulling. So he squirts some stuff in your jaw called novocaine, to make you think they're not doing anything to you. So you sit there and 'cause you've got all of that novocaine in your jaw, you suffer peacefully. Blood running all down your jaw, and you don't know what's happening. 'Cause someone has taught you to suffer -- peacefully.

18 June 2008

Pursuit of Happiness

The pursuit of happiness: that's what's at issue here, simply put. There is nothing more American than letting two guys marry each other because it makes them happy and I say screw you if you think you know better than they do what makes them happy.

Seriously, live long and prosper gay men.

17 June 2008

Sept. 17

It's all coming together. Bicycle can go for free. Thinking about other things.

13 June 2008

Lots of this and that

Sorry I haven't been around. Some stuff going on at work that's not so hot. English plans are put on hold until work is resolved, but I should be able to resolve everything in time to do visas and plane tickets and all of that. At least I hope. More than anything, I learned a couple of lessons this week about the value of taking a deep breath and walking away from a confrontation instead of getting fired up and walking right into it without a goal. This year (and last) has been the year of good (very good) tactical moves for me, but this week I didn't live up to my potential. Ah, well. I am still just 25. Still a lot for me to learn about a lot of things, I guess. I'm cool with that.

Midterm exams are finishing up here. So this means that I have just about 4 weeks of work left before the summer vacation. I hope some fun can be had this summer. Next summer is France or something, so I should probably just bide my time.

Lots of this and that

Sorry I haven't been around. Some stuff going on at work that's not so hot. English plans are put on hold until work is resolved, but I should be able to resolve everything in time to do visas and plane tickets and all of that. At least I hope. More than anything, I learned a couple of lessons this week about the value of taking a deep breath and walking away from a confrontation instead of getting fired up and walking right into it without a goal. This year (and last) has been the year of good (very good) tactical moves for me, but this week I didn't live up to my potential. Ah, well. I am still just 25. Still a lot for me to learn about a lot of things, I guess. I'm cool with that.

Midterm exams are finishing up here. So this means that I have just about 4 weeks of work left before the summer vacation. I hope some fun can be had this summer. Next summer is France or something, so I should probably just bide my time.

07 June 2008

With/ without you

Maybe I can have a son like this one day. Or Naomi can get a little better.





Good ending wanted

This e-mail could not have started better:
Dear Dr. Pihlaja,

Or ended worse:
We are sorry to inform you that, despite being sound and solid, your proposal does not fall within the aim and scope of this publication.  We appreciate your interest in this project, and look forward to working with you in the future.  If you have any questions regarding this book, please do not hesitate to contact us.

You win some, you lose some. The book, Literary Education and Digital Learning: Methods and Technologies for Humanities Studies, should be good, though. Even if I'm not in it.

Yeah, this makes you look young

05 June 2008

Things I'm looking forward to in England 2

Mike Skinner.

Things I am looking forward to in England 1

Later with Jools Holland.

So cute

Ah, look at the big guy... He's doing his best. Good job, buddy!





Figuring it all out

Between Google Earth, a couple letting websites, three or four travel sites, and good friends in the UK, I think we are beginning to figure out where and how we are going to land this fall. The big decision seems to be between trying to make our life livable without a car or just punting and getting one. The suburbs of anywhere have this problem, but Milton Keynes more so than the other places we are looking at seems to have a good series of bus lines. But the more I look at it, the more it seems like Gurnee, with the big shopping mall and urban sprawl. Lots of bike paths though and I think we might be able to swing at least a short time without one. But the 16th or 17th of September is looking to be our ticket out.

It's a beautiful day to be an Obama supporter



My brother points out:
Also let me be the first to say "I told you so." I want to remind you that before Iowa you did not in fact have much hope. But if I recall it was me who raised the banner of hope in the face of insurmountable odds. I feel vindicated.
Asshole.

02 June 2008

¿Tienes Sed? tour, Day 6: Live from Moscow

IMG_3637

I have a brief bit of wifi here in Moscow. A quick run down: Spain was beautiful; Moscow was beautiful; Metaphors are beautiful. Also, metaphor scholars are like all the literature girls from college and I now know where Tunisia is. I can say 'Are you thirsty?' in Spanish and I saw Lenin and the Russians, from what I can tell, are totally not into communism anymore.. This is not a metaphor.

With some luck, I will be able to say something official about moving to London on Tuesday.

More later.

St. Basil's

01 June 2008

¿Tienes Sed? tour, Day 5: Madrid

I am sitting on the floor of the Madrid airport with Bob Kurtz, waiting for his girlfriend. More soon.
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