29 February 2008
We aren't going that far, so I shouldn't get too sentimental... But I will miss this little part of the world.
My third article will be coming out in April in "The English Teacher". This is actually the first article that was accepted to be published, but it has been waiting its turn for about 15 months as this is a rather popular (albeit not particularly distinctive) publication. Wait no longer. Unfortunately, I wrote it about a project I eventually gave up on, the ill-fated Helter Skelter English. Ah well. You win some, you lose some. Also, the proof doesn't represent my current, slightly more illustrious affiliation.
28 February 2008
Senator John McCain got support on Wednesday from an important corner of evangelical Texas when the pastor of a San Antonio mega-church, Rev. John C. Hagee, endorsed Mr. McCain for president. Mr. Hagee, who argues that the United States must join Israel in a preemptive, biblically prophesized military strike against Iran that will lead to the second coming of Christ, praised Mr. McCain for his pro-Israel views.
“John McCain has publicly stated his support of the state of Israel, pledging that his administration will not permit Iran to have nuclear weapons to fulfill the evil dreams of President Ahmadinejad to wipe Israel off the map,'’ Mr. Hagee said at a news conference at the Omni
Hotel in San Antonio.
The return of Jesus now includes high-fiving John McCain.
27 February 2008
26 February 2008
It took me about a year and a half to realize that teaching English in Japan has nothing to do with English and even less to do with teaching. Education is really not a part of it at all. What English education in Japan really stands for is a chance at safe multicultural entertainment. Sort of like an American in a big city going to a French restaurant run by an actual French person every month. You can then tell your friends that you know a French person and like French food and everyone thinks you're international and intelligent.
English is sort of like that in Japan. English conversation is a chance for middle-aged people to get away from whatever they're doing in their regular life and be international for an hour with a real live American. But actually learning any English is not really a part of it.
At high school, it's a little more complicated, but it has the same root of a school getting some international points for having a couple of foreigners on staff. We, the foreign staff, however, end up feeling a little bit more like well paid furniture than teachers. And learning to accept that is part of being a successful teacher, I suppose.
I don't have a problem with any of this, really, as long as people understand what it is that they're doing in the English conversation world and English teachers understand that they are entertainers, not teachers. From next month, I will be venturing into more of the real world of education, I suppose, in which I give grades and pass and fail real students without some Japanese person looking over my shoulder (in theory) or telling me what to teach or making money off of me specifically as a foreigner... but I'm not sure if I am actually going to be good at this.
I'm a pretty good English conversation teacher because I am pretty good at bullshitting and being agreeable. I am good at pretending to be interested in what people are saying and acting like I'm teaching when I'm not. I am sort of sad to be leaving this work because I have been pretty good at it and part of me really enjoys it. But I guess when it is time to move on, it is time to move on.
Or maybe it's just this...
22 February 2008
This is terribly interesting to me, and I think I ultimately agree with Pinker. The growth of knowledge is the growth of understanding and empathy. It also reminded me of out discussion of the faith as well as a discussion in one of my classes about how the Japanese are all about world peace because without it, they can't feed themselves.
I can't wait for the John McCain press conference today. 'I want to say unequivocally, I have never cheated on my second wife. This hack job report claiming that I cheated on my second wife is simply not true. Ever since I began my relationship with my second wife, I have never strayed, not even one day, from my second wife. My second wife is my rock.' Hillary Clinton and John McCain are now in a dead heat to see who can take the Rudy Gulliani mantle. And it's Clinton by a half a length going into the home stretch.
Cheat once, cheat twice, cheat thrice... And, James Dobson reminds us all, John McCain is known to use bad language, too.
21 February 2008
2) Obama fails to win key demographics. Once again, Obama has not broken into the key demographic of voters who have been on a casino junket in the last thirty days. He also failed to win voters who had never heard of him, Wiccans, members of more than one bowling league, mourning dove hunters, white voters with "strongly negative" views of African Americans, and Vatican II-rejecting Catholics. These groups will only become more significant as the primary campaign shifts to Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.http://www.barackobamaisyournewbicycle.com/
Some people know it is Spring when they hear calls of birds. Some people know it is Spring because they have the urge to merge. I know it is Spring when I hear the calls of my bicycle to merge with it. Stay tuned.
This sort of explanation suits me because it doesn't duck the question with some elaborate 'What is truth anyway' gymnastics, and it also doesn't throw away the story. It allows for a marriage of faith and marriage without attacking either. My Fundamentalist friends might not like it as much, but they are hard to please anyway.
19 February 2008
Unfortunately, in the winter, I can't really get around on the scooter because of the snow. This leaves me in my wife's car, which is a two door version of the Nissan March photo'd above. The March is the bane of my existence, namely because it has only two doors and it is small but not the smallest class in Japan so the tax is awful. There are any number of other things I hate about it (like if you pop the trunk then shut the driver's side door too hard, the trunk closes), but it's okay.
Anyway, so on to fossil fuels. If I drive my scooter I pay about $5 every 8 days. In the March? It's about $50 every eight days. Which I think is ridiculously expensive for such a small car, but also got me thinking about how much money I have saved using the scooter when I have. I think it's somewhere around $3000 or $4000.
Once I move, I won't use a car or the scooter everyday as I am close enough to walk to school. I suspect this will be very good for my heart, in just about every meaning of that word.
Yes, it looks like my EeePC is working swimmingly for video as well.
So my car was out of gas and I was driving home at 8:30, trying to get gas. But every place was closed. Closed! Honestly now.
So it looks like my trip to Laos is going to involve a long freaking train ride through the countryside of Thailand. Sounds like fun? Well, on paper.
16 February 2008
15 February 2008
Well, my day after Cash only got better when the computer store called to tell me that the EeePC (black) had finally arrived. Soon, I will have it in my hands and all over my body.
Then, I went to survey our new apartment which is just about twice as big as our current place, with a (gasp) bathroom sink AND a place to put the washing machine that is not in the kitchen. No more standing naked in the kitchen toweling off with the baby laughing at me. It also has a veranda and still, great location. I was also told that the rent is being negotiated, but at a minimum, it will be about $250 less than what we're paying now, and could be closer to $300 less. Pictures coming soon, I'm sure.
Later I was given chocolate by several of my students, only all the chocolate was in fact filled with alcohol. Imagine!
I imagine this: Sitting out on the veranda, smoking my pipe, listening to mellow tunes, and typing away the future on my tiny, tiny computer while the world spins uncontrollably.
14 February 2008
13 February 2008
12 February 2008
Stephe-O got into the University of Leeds:
The process of considering your application to pursue a research degree has now been completed by the School of Education and I am writing to tell you that we are recommending your acceptance as a part-time provisional PhD student.
- As a story, an allegory, about God and salvation
- As a real story of a miracle
10 February 2008
Blog reader and good friend Scott made the comment that this wait for Texas and Ohio strategy is the same one that Rudy Guiliani employed regarding Florida. It ignores the fact that momentum and being perceived as a winner is important. We all know that Rudy Guiliani, instead of being the Republican candidate, is now selling hot dogs for John McCain.
I solved a problem that I have had for about a year now. I got these sunglasses (prescription ones because I'm blind as a bat) after I got back from Italy where all the cool people wore sunglasses on the subway, but the sunglasses weren't quite as dark as I wanted. In fact, I had the lens changed once on the shop's dime because they didn't do it right. Well, after a year of not being satisfied, I finally went back to get darker lenses. We'll see if the problem is actually solved in ten days, but the woman who helped me (the same woman who helped me a year ago) still kept insisting that I don't REALLY want dark lenses. It will be hard to drive, she said. They're sunglasses, I said, they're supposed to be dark. To which she answered, Oh you want sunglasses?
Love—and especially love for your spouse—is something that gets clearer with time. I think back to when me and Yoko were dating and all the things I thought I made me love her at that time (which were all good things, don't get me wrong) pale in comparison to the things I know now. I suppose this will continue to happen as we move on—I will continue to look back and think, Five years ago I totally didn't get it like I get it now.
09 February 2008
08 February 2008
07 February 2008
The baby has been grunting to show her emotions recently. They are mostly happy grunts and she likes being grunted back at. I think she thinks that I understand her. She smiles when I grunt back at her. She really likes being grunted at and so do I, I guess.
There are some people very gifted in being stylish, like they are comfortable in their own skin. I was getting my cup of perfect tea a moment ago and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I thought, that guy is not comfortable with himself at all. He is the epitome of everything he dislikes. He's wearing slacks even.
All this focus on the election is probably not good for me. I drove to school listening to David Bazan. There were three seasons on the way to school, winter first, then spring then fall. It's back to the heart of winter.
We are moving in a couple of weeks. Three weeks from Saturday. Everything will change suddenly. I have lived in this apartment for three years. More than three years. When I moved in, I put up Christmas lights and pictures of sumo wrestlers. Now I have a baby and a wife. Explain that.
It's hard to not feel optimistic today as an Obama supporter. First of all, Obama has a ton of money from people like me giving him $25 here and there. Hillary has nothing and she's supplementing it with her own money. This spells disaster and should remind us of (famous older brother endorsed exercised whimsical pragmatism) Romney. Mark Penn is not getting paid, and this should remind us of Giuliani. Louisiana, Washington, Nebraska, Maine, DC, Maryland, Virgina, Hawaii, Wisconsin. Those are the rest of the primaries and caucuses in February. I think Obama will win a majority of them, fairly easily. Mo' money, mo' delegates and 'mo'mentum.
06 February 2008
05 February 2008
But this country completely eats it when it comes to... education. Today, in what has been my worst class this year, we started with the homeroom teacher reading outloud for 20 minutes--this, to a group of terribly out of control kids who don't give a shit about anything and are already demoralized by learning. Luckily, for this portion of the class, I could just watch. Then, I was called up to, again, read outloud and have the kids repeat after me. This, I promised myself, I would not get frustrated with, even though everyone was talking and one kid continued to sleep after the homeroom teacher tried in vain to wake him up. I managed to get frustrated. Yelled at a kid, made everyone stand up. The kicker was when some kid may fun of how I accented his name, and I nearly hit him.
These kids have been already given up on. They are in the first year of high school, they are grouped together to stay out of the way of the other kids and then given incredibly inept and boring teachers to further frustrate them. And I would feel much more sympathetic to their cause, but they are all spoiled rich kids whose arrogance is only matched my their ignorance. Unfortunately, I have to see them three more times.
(Only 14 days of high school left.)
I also want to take a swing at the news, which has been reporting for days and days about this gyoza (or dumplings) from China. Apparently, some food from one factory had some pesticide in it and some people in Japan got sick. No one died. A couple of people were hospitalized, but you can be hospitalized for anything here. And still, wall-to-wall news coverage.
This all goes back to my theory about the Japanese obsession with safety and that the most important thing in the life of an average Japanese person is to feel safe. Even if it means relying on an old form of education that doesn't meet the challenges of 2008 (or even 1994 for that matter). Even if it means ignoring real problems of safety in the society like mental health issues or an unjust criminal justice system, to wring our hands about the Chinese. No, no, forget all that. Instead, let's all take out our books and listen to Stephen Sensei read pg. 122 outloud.
If she can't put this thing away tomorrow, and it's hard to see how she could absent an unlikely rout, her fundraising will continue to suffer vis-a-vis Obama, and that would prove deadly in a protracted campaign. Her best ally at this point is the ridiculous expectations Obama supporters have for tomorrow. Clinton is going to win the day. The key is to limit her margin of victory and keep it close enough for Obama to catch up later in the month and into March and April. But if Obama supporters build themselves up to the point they actually think they can win tomorrow (by citing bogus polls by Zogby, for example, and cherry picking the best of the other polls), then anything but a victory will be a demoralizing letdown.
04 February 2008
03 February 2008
02 February 2008
Having received the reports from the Scientific Committee, we are pleased to inform you that your submission, "Metaphor and the Vlog: A Case Study of YouTube Discourse", has been accepted for a PAPER presentation at the "Seventh International Conference on Researching and Applying Metaphor: Metaphor in Cross-Cultural Communication" to be held at the University of Extremadura from 29th to 31st May 2008.
This is bad:
My father-in-law is a man after my own heart. He called today and was talking to Yoko and she was getting annoyed and finally hung up. When I asked what it was about, she said that my in-laws have acquired a new TV and her father wanted to talk about it. Yoko, as I have learned, is not interested in talking about big TVs or laptops for more than five minutes. But I was excited to hear about it.