Teaching In Socks

American Jokes and Language Inspectors
September 29, 2008, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
One for every State, Sufjan!

One for every State, Sufjan!

I found this in a used bookstore in Himeji today. How appropriate; the book’s prominent display must have been deliberate. I flipped through it, and here is the only joke I can remember offhand:

Knock Knock

Who’s there?


Aleutian who?

I need Aleutian for my feet.

Aleutian Islands jokes, brilliant!

Also, over the past few days I have seen some pretty interesting English signs.

In my Kyoto pictures, some of you may have noticed the “No Smorking” sign. I don’t know why, but “No Smorking” kills me. Personally, I propose we change the word “smoking” to “smorking” I think this potential change has countless benefits.

In Kobe the other day, I passed by a fairly fashionable pizza parlour. Outside, they had their menu written up on a chalkboard. Next to the pizza selections, there was a section with the header “Paste”. Unappealing culinary images appeared in my head. They had to mean “pasta”.  I asked my Japanese friend to confirm the the items under the header were indeed pastas and not some form of edible paste, and we both had a brief laugh.

Finally, I was in a department store in Himeji today with some friends. We were on the ground floor, Women’s Accessories, which was plastered with many signs next tables of hats reading, “Knit or Far?” I was perplexed by the possible relation of these two words. What could one have to do with the other?  I asked my Japanese friend, who looked at me like I was an idiot. “You know, Knit or Far?” Then it clicked for me, they meant “Fur”

These incidents got me thinking: I wonder if American businesses bungle the words when they produce literature in other languages?

It only took me a short time to realize this was a stupid questions. As much as I like to patriotically tote the brilliance of my homeland, we can’t even keep the “R”  in “Toys R Us” facing the correct direction. Not to mention that our understanding of our native grammar frequently has a few glaring defincies (this blog often included). Furthermore, we have Taco Bell restaurants nationwide. I’m sure the “Drive Thru” (seriously) menu at that establishment has some linguistic combinations that might be lexicogrpahy hilarious and digestively horrendous for native spanish speakers.


I admit, I have a crippling fear of looking like a tourist. I’m not sure if it’s the fanny packs, the stupid sunglasses or the complete naivety to their surroundings, but I know I dread being associated this dangerously curious group. When traveling,  I try to blend in as best as I can, however, in Japan, despite my best efforts this has it’s limitations. Short of wearing a mask at all times, I will always be immediately identified as an outsider (and let’s face it wearing mask doesn’t do much to ameliorate that situation either).

Strangely, one of the personal benefits of Kyoto was the abundance of tourists. To score points with the natives, all I had to do was be a bit more subtle than the loud, pushy Europeans at the next table. Also, for  three days, as I was surrounded by other caucus folk,  I wasn’t a novelty item.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the attention, but being one-of-a-kind goes both ways.

In terms of the city; Kyoto is a fantastic place. It’s rich, historic, nestled among mountains, and you can feel the connection to Japan’s past and the sublime surrounding nature. It’s abundantly clear why Kyoto is a big draw, and some of the ways the foreign influence has changed the city.

Some of the most picturesque and significant sights now primarily serve the visitor’s camera lens and not the people of Kyoto. I won’t lie, I wanted to get some of these places on record with my own camera. They make impressive images to show your friends and make them jealous–and why travel if you can’t make close friends question their own life-choices?  Also, while many of these places can feel like hostile tourist traps centered around a monument, one of the more famous shrines Kiyomizudera still retains it’s spiritual essence and and ability to convey awe. It might have been the large, imposing and menacing looking statues (not pictured) or the fact that the temple sits alongside an impressively high cliff.

Still, I wanted to get as much of a feel as I could of the real attitude of Kyoto, or what the native Kyotocan (Kyotian?) feels every day.  Fortunately, Kyoto has a lively cafe culture that I decided to take advantage of. In between temples, castles and shopping it became culturally necessary to stop for a bit and have a tea/beer. This was my favorite part of the trip. Often these places were of trendy yet humble, modern design, filled with young locals and piping good music through the stereo.  One of them also served bagel sandwiches, and opportunity I did not pass up.

The only time I felt somewhat out of place was when we went to a small organic tea house rumored to have the best chocolate in Kyoto. The house is run by a Japanese confectionist and his wife, who is from Vancouver. Despite the service being run by a white person, the set up was still very formal. No shoes, kneel on the floor and women wore a kimono. Towards the end of the meal, the waitress and began talking. She told me that she used to live in SOHO so I stared updating her about New York, and the changes in the neighborhood, She was quite friendly, but the entire situation made me nervous. Much more uncomfortable  then when someone tries to speak to me in Japanese and I can’t understand (aka all the time). I think what was so unnerving was that in the back of my head, I knew this women had gone through what I had gone through and so she more than anybody would not only  know when I made a faux pas, but perhaps she would even feel embarrassed by me, instead of for me. I’m fine with making a fool out of myself, but i hate it when I let the team down.

eat this, friends.

eat this, friends.

Fortunately for me, within five minutes she started babbling something about how children from the countryside in Japan have much “brighter eyes” because they’re happier, and painting her accent with a hippy tone. Thus, the tables turned  quite abruptly as my Japanese friend started looking at me with wide and confused eyes while I tried not to laugh. I did my best to pretend like this was a normal way to hear a person talk but as soon as we walked out the door impressions of her summer of love accent became the running joke of the trip.

Kyoto in Media
September 24, 2008, 6:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

I will provide a written explanation of my trip tomorrow. wanted to get some pictures up for the time being.

(turn up your speakers for some light music)

Language detective & Other news
September 24, 2008, 7:47 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

I’m heading to Kyoto for an extended weekend. Hopefully I’ll return with a boatload of pictures and a luggage case full of spiritual enlightenment. I heard a rumor that they have a few temples and shrines there.

I know I mentioned a while back that I was going to stage some sort of elaborate thesis on Japanese politics and the value of honor within Japanese society, however, I have returned to the old philosopher’s crux that the more I think about it, the more I realize how little I know. I’ve only been here two months, so maybe this is a subject I will return to when I feel more qualified to do so. I’ll certainly provide some highlights and insight on the upcoming Japanese Prime Minister election, especially if my students offer me any interesting information on the subject.  So far I’ve mostly received sentiments of cynicism on their part. I can’t blame them, they have had something like thirteen Prime Ministers in the last twenty years. I’m surprised they remember who is in charge, or that they haven’t turned the whole election into an American Idol style competition.

In the meantime, today I stumbled into an unfortunate episode of “Ted Reilly, Language Detective”. During some pleasant lobby talk with another teacher and one of my students about text message abbreviations, the other teacher shared an anecdote about the encounters of her father as a young boy in Japan, with the arriving American GI’s. Her father told her he could remember three things they used to say to him, but he spoke no English, so he didn’t know what they meant.

The first one was “sunavubit”, which she had realized was probably “son of a bitch”. (Everyone in the lobby shared a polite chuckled when she said this.)

The second saying her father had remembered was “gudaamut”. She had determined that this was “god damnit”. (The students and I laugh, pretending to be shocked by the language.)

The third saying her father would recall, was “caasuuka”.  The teacher then says that has never figured out what the one was and she is interested to know what it was and what it means. (All eyes in the room turn to me)

“Do you know?” asked the other teacher.

I stupidly replied honestly, not even remembering to inflect any sort of reluctance and answer until half way though, “Yeahhhhhhhhhhh, I know what it means

My student, curious, eagerly urges me on, “What does it mean?”

“You know, it could be a lot of things actually…” I said.

“My father probably did something to make them angry, right?” asked the teacher.

“Well, you know, the army has it’s own language and it’s own way of speaking, it’s not necessarily a bad thing….”

“But it wasn’t a nice word, was it?” she finished my sentence.

“No, not really” I said, sheepishly.

I guess there were both better and worse places we could have ended the conversation, but we decided to do it here, at that point, I was comfortable with that. These days they might deport me for saying the word in question to a room full of Japanese women. Later, when I used the school computer I saw that the teacher had tried to use “Yahoo:Answers” to figure it out on her own. Someone should tell her about Google, although I doubt she wants to Google this finely crafted bit of slang.

You know, I knew this war thing might lead to an awkward moment or two, but I didn’t realize it was going to be a weekly occurrence. Thanks FDR.


This past Monday was “Appreciation for the Elderly” day in Japan. The age demographics of Japan are a bit top heavy, so there was quite a bit of appreciation being doled out across the nation. A thick air of appreciation filled the air like summer humidity. Even the bugs were respectfully quiet for the entire day (well, until 7pm, elderly bedtime).

However, like any holiday, some families celebrate this holiday with more enthusiasm than others. While some of my students visited their ancestral homes to maintain their family shrine, my close friends decided to show my me how to authentically celebrate this holiday by going to an amusement park. Needless to say, the park was devoid of the elderly, yet brimming with tackiness.

While i felt the aura of respect, the joy of a holiday was lost on me. Monday is already included as part of my weekend (I work on Saturday), so this wasn’t much of a holiday from my perspective, rather part of my regularly scheduled weekend. Also, my Japanese friends get up at normal hours so really this was a weekend day where I had to get up before noon–which barely happened.

Drowsy and inhaling coffee (well one of us was), we headed to Himeji Central Park a thirty minute train ride and twenty minute bus ride from Ako. The name "Himeji Central Park" is a bit of a misnomer; as far as I can tell, it’s not really central to anything of importance. It’s not in the center of the city–far from it in fact, and it certainly wasn’t the center of attention, not on elderly appreciation day at least.

Regardless, it is the Japanese version of Busch Gardens, and i mean this in every way you can imagine. First, I was greeted by bus that well, could only be made in Japan. Secondly, the park has an amusement section, with roller coasters, rides, and low budget live performances, as well as a water park, and a “safari” park.

The Harbinger

The Harbinger

It was raining so I didn’t see a single ride or roller coaster running. I’m not sure if this the same safety protocol they follow in America, but I imagine Six Flags would catapult you into a tornado if they thought it would make you buy a few more funnel cakes. Americans don’t respect the weather the way the Japanese do.

With the rides shut down, and the rain making the water park uninhabited and obsolete, the "safari" became  main attraction. We looked into what times we could embark on the "safari" and realized we had a little bit of a wait. In the meantime we decided to catch "the show" which was explained ot me as some sort of illusionist show.

We filed into a giant performance hall with bleachers, 200 kids and parents, and a small, ground-level stage. There was castle motif to the building, a circus-inspired stage, and I was immediately worried. My fears were immediately confirmed when the Adam’s Family theme began playing over the loudspeaker and strangely choreographed dance number commenced the show. I might be wrong about this, but I get the feeling that they don’t pay royalties on the usage of that song. Raul would be proud not to be a part of this performance.

What followed was a circus montage of goofy jugglers, strange magicians and small dogs forced to perform small and humiliating tricks while dressed in costume. I believe at some point the dogs were married to each other. Cousin It never made an appearance, but maybe  he was supposed to be one of he dogs.  My only noteworthy observation from this tragedy was that most of the performers and stage hands appeared to be foreigners. I opted not forgo engaging in some foreigner bonding with them so my only assumption is that France has some sort of exchange program.

Afterwards we headed to the safari, which happened to partake on that very same bus. They actually drive this monstrosity through small enclosures with cheetahs, lions, tigers and various herbivores. They separate the animals out of food chain concerns, but the only between you and the animals is the thin, tinted window panes of this ridiculous bus. It’s direct and violent taunting of the animals.

While the animals are the attraction I think the stupidity of human beings is what’s on display. First, the place looks like a miniature Jurassic Park.  Didn’t these people see the movie…it ends badly. Secondly, we are the only species crazy enough to design a bus to look like a cartoon tiger and then drive it through a small enclosure FULL OF TIGERS! These Tigers are insulted, people. It only takes one missed meal before they get sultry enough to assault a luxury coach and ensue and massacre on the “camera-faces”.

That said, I did get a nice picture of an elephant in the rain.



Awaiting news of band of rogue tigers loose on the countryside and the arrival of my first typhoon (#13), clearly the horsemen are on the loose.

small sacrifices
September 14, 2008, 5:12 pm
Filed under: Japan, Teaching, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Coffee in Disguise

Coffee in Disguise

I’m not entirely sure which demographic this coffee targets. Clearly, the rainbow themed packaging would have a different connotation in the United States. I won’t even mention the Freudian “Suntory Boss” logo. Although, I will admit, on its own I think the Boss logo is cool– this may be inspired by the fact that on some of the ads, they use a picture of Tommy Lee Jones. I’ll drink any coffee that is Tommy Lee Jones approved.

Regardless, inside that purple top is a Transformers action figure. He is small and there is some assembly required, but he comes totally free with this coffee. Thus, I purchased the can and am now the proud owner of both a caffeine buzz, and empty rainbow coffee can and a Decepticon action figure. I am not surprised I fell for this gimmick, in spite of the packaging.

The ad wizards have known that  free robot action figures have been my Achillies heal in the past. It’s not like my house is swarming with them, but I am confident that somewhere in Corporate America there is a Dossier titled, “Ted and the McDonald’s ‘Free Toy Robot’  Happy Meal Giveaway:1988-89” that floats around and is occasionally cited in grandiose power point presentations.

I won’t go into too much detail, but with the exception of the time they interrupted “Muppet Babies” to show the protest in Tienanmen Square, all of my memories of that year consist of greasy hands and Chicken McNuggets. I may have consumed thousands of Chicken McNuggets.

In fact, if the advent of the TV-Talk Shows and Fast-Food backlash had come a bit earlier I’m sure my experience would have merited a free trip to the Maury Povich Show where studious audience members would have berated my parents with shameful insults while I, oblivious and greasy, played with robots 4-7. You can’t blame my parents though. My desire to collect the entire series of robots was instinctual, primal and  unstoppable.

Old habits die hard and I’m sure the next few weeks with my find my blood pumping caffiene and my apartmetn litered with preference-ambigous rainbow cans.

(Note: I now have two, and had to talk myself out of #3 this evening also, it appears this advertising agaency Suntory has chosen have recieved some accolades for their work: Award for Tommy Lee Jones)

essentials, fringe benefits, and the beginnings of an “honor” discourse

I am currently riding the sonic waves of another productive weekend. I returned to my new favorite city, Kobe, made a deal with the devil, and found myself the new owner of a used guitar. It’s been almost two months since I’ve put my fingers to a fret so it was a relief to get back on an ax and find the chords still familiar and remember that the vocals still need work.

There may be consequences though. I fear that the trim thickness of my apartment walls and my irregular working hours might dictate that my neighbors and I a new familiarity with each other soon. I’m trying to keep the guitar fest to a minimum after midnight, but occasionally the musical urge disrupts my biological clock and I find the notes flowing at an unreasonable hour. It appears my only legitimate chance of salvation lies in the possibility that my neighbors enjoy mediocre, acoustic Stones covers and don’t own any large knives. Sadly, this is Japan, sharp knives are aplenty and my chances look slim.

I hope to go out rocking harder than ever (note to self: polish up that mean “Freebird” solo stat).

In the continued tradition of naming my larger Japanese purchases, I will name this guitar “Mr. Katana”. I was going to go with Guitarzilla, but my cell phone has already claimed “Cellzilla”, and a sequential continuation would just seem so unoriginal.

Friends in battle.

Friends in battle.

I also put my newly purchased soccer ball to use this weekend. It was an interesting experience. The field I used was large and empty, but primarily dirt. I had a few spectators in several elderly Japanese athletes who were using the surrounding track.  Between their uniform looking attire and the way the kept glancing at me with stoic faces, I kept thinking one of them was going to come inform me I needed a permit to use the field or that I wasn’t honoring the facility properly, but I kicked around and left without incident.

Games play a large role in my life in Japan and I’ve begun to relish and appreciate their presence.

I think the Japanese agree; Rock, Paper, Scissors (they call it Janken) is the preferred method of dispute resolution in Japan.  I think this is a fantastic policy.

In my classroom, I also get to play a lot of hangman and Jenga. Hangman actually could be one of the five pillars or learning. I’m not sure what the other four are, but if you want to learn a new word and ensure you remember it, fear of fictional, cartoon asphyxiation is a great motivation tool. I wrap up a class with a rousing game of hangman at least five times a week. I’m thinking about going Pro.

It’s hard to determine if my students enjoy the game anywhere near as much as I do, but as long as I have the control of the whiteboard (which is always), the scaffold and stick figure has a place on the board.

I also know what you’re thinking…JENGA? How does he get paid to play Jenga? I can’t actually take credit for this development. My previous teacher had the genius idea to write some English letters on Jenga blocks. If you make the kids pronounce the letters as they remove the corresponding blocks, you have an unstable learning structure of excitement. If given the choice, I would want to learn everything in Jenga format.  My students agree; the popularity of this game with children (and myself) is immense. I also think the fragility of the Jenga structure provides and interesting social insight.

I think it’s fair to say that most of the world looks upon Japan as a culture that champions “honor” above all other virtues.  For a number of reasons that I will address in a future post, so far, i would confirm this assessment as generally accurate.

However, people often misinterpret the attributes and jurisdiction of Japanese “honor”.



I think that several of my friends are the assumption that my child students are incredibly well-behaved due to this invisible honor specter that keeps them in line. This is not the case, or if it ever was the case, the powers of the ghost are eroding with younger generation (very possible this is the case). It appears in the majority of the “developed” world, the days of regimented, militaristic instilling of obedience to authority have ceased. (debate this and the virtues of such practices on your own time).

Honor is very alive in Japanese society, but my younger students are no more well-behaved or disobedient than children I was in charge of at summer camps in America. Even with Jenga–attraction number one for these kids, I still have classes where the average game lasts less than two minutes because there is the kid (or kids) that achieves enjoyment in sabotaging the tower every chance he gets.  Through clenched teeth or anger and disappointment, I appreciate the cultural similarity.

I want to share some other encounters I have had with the Japanese honor system– in didactic enterprise, eating and politics, as they have been extremely relevant as of late, but they will have to wait as the require their own separate and esteemed post….


I know. I’ve been here over a month and I’ve mentioned next to nothing regarding baseball or game shows. It’s poor form, I agree. I also figure at this point everyone in America except my grandparents are bit tired of hearing about me. Thus, it’s time to start the amelioration process and provide you with the some SUPER EXCITING JAPANESE BASEBALL MEGACONTENT.

I figure the finest method to approach and convey the Japanese baseball experience is to watch an entire game on television, with the trusty aid of a Kirin’s lager, and write about it. Okay maybe it’s not the best way, but I promise it will be fun.

Today’s action between Hanshin Tigers and the Hiroshima Carp is brought to you live on TSS (which must stand for Total Super Sports) and is sponsored by Mos Burger, Kirin’s, Mizuno, Ryobi, Samurai baseball players, Pachinko, the Color Magenta, and the letter L.

This one goes out to you Dan, consider this your engagement present.

23:05 No surprises here. Japan takes the first pitch a bit more seriously than we do in America. The pomp and circumstance are escalated.  First, the responsibilty for the pitch is designated to a little leaguer. This is a call move, and a motion that might be supported by a few weak-armed American dignitaries that in retrospect, perhaps wish this was the American custom.

There is also large intimidating mascot standing right behind the catcher. I no realize that neither the Japan nor America are getting the full potential of the umpire outfit. Why all balck? It’s so depressing and un-entertaining. Seriously, we could make those guys wear anything. I understand why America has had trouble of grasping and developing  this great concept, but Japan, this is your wheelhouse…shame on you.

Final difference; they actually have a batter from the other team stand in the box, and guess what, he takes a swing! (It was a half cut, but still). The pitch from the 12 year-old was just a bit outside, so it will go down in the score books as a strike. One can only imagine what psychological impact this will have on the lead off man for the rest of the game.

11:06: First Legitimate pitch by professional pitcher wearing his official Japanese pitcher weird plastic twisty necklace that they all wear. Ball one–low and away, The little leaguer had a better arm.

11:07: Five pitch, walk. Things look ominous for the Carp. Do they even have a chance? on team insignia alone…Tigers vs Carp? I think not. The name “Carp” lends itself to some dangerous manipulations if you’re a struggling baseball team.

11:09  It takes seven pitches but the second batter in the lineup finally gets a successful sacrifice bunt down. One out, runner on second. It appears they have a strategy of always moving the runner into scoring position.

11:14: Ripped to left field by Kahemoto, the cleanup hitter. Tigers 1, Carp 0. Sacrifice strategy seems to be be paying off… (insert your own Kamikaze joke here)

11:15: Slow roller to second, inning over. Tigers 1 – Carp 0, Bottom 1st.

11:16: Real Commercial on Jsports: Be sure to check in tomorrow night at 11pm for the NHL preview show!!!– I’m sure families are fighting over the remote to catch that one.

11:17 Hanshin (pronounced han-SHeen) pitcher, Andoh fires in a strike. He has no necklace, but is wearing a large yellow hospital bracelet. Intimidating. Three pitches and he induces a pop out to second base.

11:18: The crowd shot you have all been waiting for: not only are there Thunder sticks, there are super thunder sticks. They are shaped like baseball bats.  Also, when approaching the batters box, the player does not get a chosen pop song pumped through the stadium sound system. Instead, sections of the crowd are equipped with trumpets, or perhaps kazoos. I think the fans are into this.

11:19: Pop up in foul territory, The catcher and the first baseman run into each other and drop the ball. So much for fundamentals. E-both of you idiots. Customary seppuku to follow between innings

11:20: The camera shows the stadium flags to confirm that there is no wind, and that it was an error of judgment on the player’s part.  Japan is into this shame thing.

11:21: The pardoned batter grounds out to second. The catcher and the first baseman will be spared. No harm no foul. (get it?)

11:24: The pageantry is in high gear. There are heavily coordinated cheers in the crowd. There is alternating standing and sitting. This isn’t “the wave” folks, this is a new species of “super-wave”.

11:25: There’s a great grab by the third baseman on a ground ball hit sharply towards the line. He makes the throw and the inning is over. After 1, Tigers 1 – Carp 0.

11:26: From our Sponsors: Tune in this week to experience the excitement and action of JAPAN NATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE! (Rugby and baseball? together? this is highly unnatural, my head might explode, pick one Japan! You’re either English or American, you can’t cherry pick the best sports, you either get cricket or football, now go make some decisions).

11:27: Seikimoto swings at the pitch and says, “I am different than you!” Katsubashi! Tigers 2, Carp 0.

11:28: Replays confirm that in any language that was a hanging curve ball. Let the replays of shame continue.

11:30: Stellar defense as the Hiroshima Shortstop fumbles an easy grounder. E6, there’s a reason he’s not on the Yankees I suppose. Runner on first, one out.

11:31: The sacrifice is on.

11:37: The sacrifice was a rouse all along, The batter takes a big cut, but grounds to the shortstop 4-6-3 double play. The surprise attack fails….ahhh, awkward…inning over.

11:51: Bottom of the second, nothing of interest happens. Top of the third, Tigers at bat. Runners on first and second, full count.

11:52: Ball four, low in the dirt. Somebody get on whatever fancy communication device or robot they have that contacts the bullpen (or perhaps it is a space-pen/space-dome here) and get someone warming up. We are on the cusp of a blow-out.

11:54: Starting pitcher, Saito, gets himself out of his own jam with a ground ball double play. Tigers 2 – Carp 0 after two and a half.

11:57: Single for the Carp. We have a runner on first. Do I smell a sacrifice?

11:58: Bunt sacrifice.

11:59: Multiple replays of said sacrifice. I can’t understand what the announcers are saying, but I can hear them drooling over the technique.

11:59: Routine fly-out to center, aggressive base running as the runner advances to third. Ankiel would have nailed him.

12:00: It all pays dividends! The ball is ripped down the first base line and the Carp are on the board. Tigers 2- Carp 1. That’s why you sacrifice folks, it’s all about tactical advancement from base to base until reaching home.

12:01: SURPRISE BUNT! not a sacrifice situation with 2 outs, but he lays one down anyway. No one saw this coming and he is safe at first. Runners on first and second, 2 outs.

12:04: The Tigers meet on the field to discuss how they could not see such a surprise attack coming. The Hanshin manager is either giving signals to the players or his armpit really itches.

12:10: Strong grounder to the American third baseman, who fires a strike to first base. Inning over. Tigers 2- Carp 1.

12:16: Carps pitcher, Saito, strikes out the side. His necklace power must be at full beam right now.

12:23: One out, runner on first for the Carp, and the batter the forgoes the sacrifice bunt. He immediately fouls one of his toe. Instant karma is gonna get you; that looks painful.

12:24: Now he tries the bunt but it is too late to repent. He pops it up to the pitcher and offers the customary baseball player grimace as he walks back to the dugout.

12:27: The Tigers get out of the inning with no damage. We go to the Fifth, Tigers 2 – Carp 1.

12:32: After an incident free half-inning, the game is half over and I’m half done with my Kirin’s tall boy.

12:37: Bloop single for the Carp. The thunder sticks rejoice!

12:38: No bunt again! the Carp are playing desperate ball here.

12:39: Single in the gap, two on, one out.

12:46: Single the left field and an error by the left fielder. Two runs score the Thunder sticks rejoice again! Tigers 2 – Carp 3.

1:05: The Tigers strike back, and group together a couple of singles, a fielder’s choice and stolen third base (no bunts!) to tie the game. Tigers 3 – Carp 3.

1:06: It appears Mike Scioscia is managing the Carp. That man is talented, he angles and the Carp at the same time! Also, he brings in the third pitcher of the night for the Carp as the Tigers are threatening (as Tigers are known to do).

1:20: TSS is showing some highlights of past Carp teams and playing, “The Long and Winding Road”. Brilliant, what I wouldn’t give to be change this for the the Nickleback soundtrack Fox pumps through for every replay montage.

1:34: Seventh inning stre…………nope. No stretch. Instead they have a balloon launch. Large, untied, highly phallic balloons are rocketed into the air simultaneously by the crowd. This is followed by much rejoicing. I can only imagine that telephone call that started this trend:

America: Yeah, and in the seventh inning we all get up and…

Japan: Launch Balloons?

America: No, we just stand up and sing “Take Me Out….

Japan: This balloon launch is going to be great! We’ll make ours look like…

President Taft is spinning in his humongous gave somewhere.

1:50: I should note, there doesn’t appear to be any beer in the stands. They are doing this out of joy for the game. How honorable and goofy. Also, we’re headed for some free baseball. EXTRA INNINGS.

2:08: My beer is done and the game continues. Of course I picked the longest game to watch. Mid Tenth, still 3-3.

2:14: Sometimes, even in Japan, baseball is boring to watch.

2:30: The trumpeters look exhausted. no hits to mention and it is still 3-3 heading to the 12th.

2:45: Two on for the Tigers, HIT! men are rounding bases, the end is in sight. Tigers 5 – Carp 3. It looks like after a 5-game losing streak the Tigers might pull this one out and extend their division lead back to 4.5 games. A half-inning left.

2:52: Down to their final out, with no men on, the Carp do not bunt and are punished by the gods with a slow ground out to second base. Game over and all (including me) are exhausted. We now join the Kelly Slater mini-surf documentary “Into the Pipeline”, already in progress…

Sometimes Japan is like the Lake of the Ozarks…
September 5, 2008, 5:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , ,

You have to love a good poor translation:

convenient for lovers of Boats and women.

convenient for lovers of Boats and women.

and a Mcdonalds next door! “New Open”!!!!

small rodents and big gorillas.
bridge to a future Robot factory?

bridge to a future Robot factory?

This afternoon I was greeted with a sight that I am less than enthusiastic about. The owner of the prestigious Indian restaurant I frequently dine at, walked by rather swiftly with the head of shopping center security team (Ako’s finest no doubt). In his hand, the head of security was carrying a high-powered flashlight. Not a mag-lite or something you would use to subdue a hooligan, rather the kind of flashlight you would want if you were looking for something small….and perhaps agile.

At this point, any conclusion I come to is pure speculation, but this is not usually a good omen. When I saw the security guard leaving the eatery he had a bit of a hop in his step. It is difficult to interpet what that meant. My thoughts: either something was dropped some place dark and unmentionable, or more likely, they had summoned security to help them secure the kitchen area from an unwanted, and most likely, non-human intruder. Needless to say, I will be going on a short curry fast–for religious purposes, obviously.

I do want to comment that I think this would be one area where Japan’s robot infatuation would be handy.  What’s preventing them from taking the “roomba” a step further and adding some heat sensors, small arms weaponary and a “kitchen sentinle” mode? Certainly not desire or demand…

In other news, it happened today. In my science class the proverbial “bomb was dropped and the bomb was mentioned. I must confess, I asked for it. We were wrapping up the unit on Nuclear Physics and I needed a short activity that was that was highly verbal, featured the original thoughts of the student, and cumulatively covered the unit. Invoking the spirit of Socrates, I went for “Benefits and Detriments of Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Technology”. For purposes of the class, this was titled “Nuclear Phsyics: Pro-Con”.

I had them write five ideas for both “Pro” and “Con” on a sheet and then went over them in a short class discussion, eliciting one idea from them each.  Being the curious idiot that I am, I amd sure I secretly wanted to see how many students it would take before the “a” word was mentioned.For those of your scoring at home, (now is the time get out your “Teaching in Socks” bingo” cards!) the answer was four.

I know for a fact the first three all had “atomic bombs” listed on their sheet but omitted it. I even saw the second student I called on mull over his list, look at me, and decide to dodge that landmine.  Not that he should feel ashamed or afraid to say it, but I appreciated the polite gesture in attempting to avoid something he decided would been uncomfortable for me.

I got to appreciate that sentiment for about 20 seconds. When the words “atomic bomb” were said, I replied, “un-huh” and wrote “nuclear weapons” on the board under the “con” portion of the list. I might have been subconsciously shaking my head, mostly in response to the internal though of “one year ago I never would imagined I’d be doing this” however, the students must have been keen to my body language, or just generally aware of the situation, as they started the ribbing the student who provided the answers with quite whispers of what I imagine translates into, “nice one” or “good going, idiot”. When I got to the next student, he claimed to not have an answer to contribute at all and the following students stuck to more medical aspects of the science. I don’t think it was all that uncomfortable, but I purposely misprounounced some words comically  at the end of class to try and lighten the mood regardless. We’ll see what happens when I teach the class again tomorrow.  I’m holding out for total mutinity.