Teaching In Socks


The Berlusconi

The train home from Kobe last night was bit crowded. My girlfriend was able to grab a seat, but I had to stand next in the aisle and brace myself by holding on to a ring hanging from the ceiling. Next to my girlfriend was an old man. The old man was part of some local tour group. He had a booklet, a full backpack and he was eating an assortment of rice balls. As a person who eats breakfast on the train once a week I’ll refrain from criticizing his etiquette too much, but it’s one thing to down a donut in an empty train and another to have a hot meal during rush hour.  My girlfriend didn’t seem entirely pleased to be sitting next to him, but she wasn’t about to give up her seat.

Then he opened his newspaper; double-page wide, his left arm stretched well into her personal space.  This is rude on it’s own, but it was exacerbated by the fact that that he opened to the exact page that happened to have a half-page black and white picture of a naked woman. Classy. I don’t want to get into detail, but let’s say the woman in the picture was proportioned in a way that made everyone in the area (did I mentioned it was a crowded train?) simultaneously double-take. Luckily for everyone involved (and extra luckily for my girlfriend), the old man was kind enough not to hastily turn the page.   For some reason, I want to name this man’s maneuver The Berlusconi–I just feel it’s appropriate.

This seems like a perfect moment to go with something completely different and share some cartoon mascot I have seen around Japan.

Ako's mascot.

Ako's mascot.

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Dad? what are you doing here?

Dad? what are you doing here?

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Dad, why are you a castle?

Dad, why are you a castle?

all dogs repair locks.

all dogs repair locks.

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I mentioned the war once…
August 7, 2008, 3:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

Yesterday was the beginning of my company class stint. Twice a week, I bike through a muggy haze past the city castle and down to a local industrial refinery. By the time I arrive, I look like Chris Farely from “Tommy Boy”, had he run the mile in a suit and put on some glasses. The sweat stains are abundant and impossible to conceal. I’m sure it’s a good look for me.

The factory consists of a couple of smoke stacks and an administration building. I go the administration where they quickly escort me to a meeting room with industrial strength air conditioning. Apparently my need of such amenities is visably obviously.

I’m not sure exactly what they do as this compound. While I have seen their finished products, I don’t really have the Japanese or English vocabulary to accurately describe them. I can only say, composites are involved

After a few minutes of cooling down, the workers start to roll in. I say workers, but that’s probably not the proper nomenclature. They are all talented scientist of some sorts. They all wear factory issued blue, grease-stained jumpsuits and almost uniformly sport the type of eyeglasses you would expect Japanese scientists to wear. From what I can tell, they are an intelligent bunch. When they are able to express it in English, it’s evident their science knowledge clearly surpasses mine.

Unlike all my other classes, I teach this class out of an American high school science text created by the Discovery channel, that was selected by my predecessor. It’s basic a science, and we work on vocabulary and pronunciation, so they can converse coherently with their Anglophile customers. It’s simple and fun, however there is one hitch

Upon flipping through the book it became evident to me one of the reasons my predecessor decided to move on when he did. The last unit he taught was unit 9. This was basic bio-chem stuff: polymers, hydrocarbons, your run of the mill photosynthesis unit. When I arrived last week, I got to teach the review of this unit. So this week we move on to unit 10. what is unit 10 you ask? that’s right, it’s Nuclear physics!

These next few weeks might be full of some uncomfortable silences. I asked my teaching trainer,who’s British, if this would be awkward and he just chuckled and walked away. Cheeky twat. I took the liberty of flipping ahead in the book to skim the entire unit, and yeah, there’s a picture of a mushroom cloud….thank Discovery Channel. For the month of August I will be doing my best Basil Fawlty impression, running into doors, abusing the help, while trying to talk around the 600lb gorilla in the room.