Teaching In Socks

What Hitchcock Missed
June 15, 2009, 5:05 pm
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News Bulletin:

I’m not sure to what degree this was discussed in American media outlets, but this week in Ishikawa prefecture it rained tadpoles and small carp. It happened on two separate occasions in different towns. No severe weather was reported in either occasion.

While this sort of news has been a nice break from the recent deluge of missiles madness and pandemics pandemonium, I’m not sure it’s less concerning. Amphibious animals are falling from the sky: if this isn’t some divine omen signifying plague and pestilence  ominous events to come, then at the very least it’s a notable an indicator that we are doing something terribly wrong to the environment (We are totally doing something terrible to the environment).

While experts have not been able to produce any concrete explanations  for the phenomenon, the current leading theory (rather predictably) blames birds. One duck observatory both proffers the theory that it could be birds dropping the amphibious specimens from their air while bringing them back to their young- they also dispute the theory based on the digestive rates of birds and the pristine states of the precipitants.  This little nuance enlightened me to the fact that I am glad that I am not a scientist who studies bird digestive rates.

Regardless of the real forces behind the tadpole rain (I blame Science), I think the initial accusations of feathered interference (and the possibility that it’s true) offers an important social statement of it’s own.  Clearly one of two things happened here:

1. The birds are angry about my rubber snake triumph (and subsequent boasting) and are taking it back by collectively ralphing water creatures across the country, one small town at a time


2. Japan has been inspired by my recent battle “nest v. rubber snake” and are enacting an elaborate “Sinking of the Maine” routine to begin a false, but publicly justified crusade against these feathered Dinoterrorist. They will hunt them mercilessly, and with generations of repressed rage from spite-filled emergency car-washes. Presumably when the extermination is finished, the citizens will populate the sky with flying robots and a few Herons kept around for posterity.

Like I said, I blame science.


Devil Birds and Dark Magic
May 26, 2009, 5:09 pm
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Last week left me feeling pretty intelligent. While it’s been years since I was on an academic calender, I’m convinced my brain still follows the school year routine; In which case last week was finals week.

My two exams this year: birds, and a crazy lady.

First, the birds. The lovely spring weather has inspired a pair of starlings to nest on top of a utility box, three feet from my door. This arrangement quickly transformed the normal enjoyable act of returning home after a days work, to intense Hitchcokian detente.  I feared an impulse defensive dive-bomb and the birds nervously (I think) feared whatever birds fear.

I’m generally pro-nature, so I did my best to cope with the situation for a few days.  However, I have guest coming soon, and I reasoned that the longer the birds stayed there, or the more offspring they had in that nest, the more unpredictably defensive they would become. I needed the birds to leave.

Once again, the magical entity that is the 100 yen shop came to my rescue. In America, we really don”t treasure or utilize the dollar store to it’s full potential.

Last Wednesday, on my way to work and while the birds were away, I used a mirror  to check the nest for eggs. The nest was empty and I was beginning to feel like McGuiver.

With the nest empty, I had he moral clearance to proceed with my plan. During my lunch break I headed down to the 100 yen shop. The amount of things that have–all which can be procured for 100 yen is astounding (thanks China!). Amongst the cornucopia of cleaning supplies, sundries and toys, I found a large and intimidating rubber snake. I picked the fiercest looking of the bunch, dumped the tags in the store and hastily headed home.

I again was fortunate as the cost was clear. I quickly placed the snake on top of a portion of the nest. Since then, the nest has been bird free. It’s almost sad how proud I was of myself for outsmarting a few birds. Still it’s nice to yell “scoreboard” at nature every once in a while.

Later this week  I was approached by the crazy lady voodoo chiropractor who hangs out at the shopping center after hours. She again, wanted to practice dark magic on me under the auspice of relieveing tension in my back.

Now, I enjoy a good eccentric personality–and within reason I try to keep a genial rapport with everyone I meet, crazy or otherwise; however this time the doctor of dark arts approached me while I was in the middle of eating an ice cream cone. I don”t care you who you are, unless it’s a life or death emergency you time is not more valuable to me than my time enjoying an ice cream cone.

Thus, as much fun as I had last time, I elected that this was an experiment that had gone too far. Ice cream melts, and time was of the essence:

(Amateur Translation)

Crazy Lady: Hello

Me: Hello.

CL: That ice cream cone looks delicious.

Me: It is delicious. Ice cream is my favorite.

CL: Hey, by the way do you ever have shoulder pain?

Me: Nope, they’re pretty good, I got a massage.

CL: Oh nice! What about your back? Any back pain?

Me: (Flexing) Nope, all good.

CL: No back pain?

Me: I do Yoga (I don’t do yoga)

Cl: ohhh, that’s great.


CL: How about you legs? any pain in your knees? Do your legs feel tired?

Me: No, they are fine. I jog every day.

CL: Wow….hmm, that’s great. Although, I really wanted to practice my (flexes her forearms, pumping her hands into a fist on each hand.) devil magic. I am sad that we can’t share this awkward experience again. I’m trying to study it.

Me: Sorry, this ice cream cone is delicious.

I dare say, it was Ghandiesque, except for that I was eating ice cream and being curt Ghandi usually exhibited overwhleming kindness and protested by not eating anything (although, when he wasn’t eating I am sure he had surly moments). Still a stoic sacchrine affair. All the money I have spent on Japanese lessons has been worthwhile just to tlak myself out of that moment.