Monday, February 27, 2006

I wish my friends lived closer

It's Monday night, and it's the boringest night of the week. I wish everyone lived closer so that I could just drive for like 20 minutes, chill out, play a game of Settlers®, and come back home. As it stands, I have to commit to at the very least a 45 minute drive to anyone's house, and that takes an hour and a half out of my night just in transit. So then if I DO go anywhere, I always want to stay extra long since I've taken so much effort to get there. I'd say that's one thing to look forward to in going back to Winnipeg, but I expect to be without a car for the first six months, so maybe it will still be the same problem. Nuts.

So this pirate walks into a bar,
and he has a ship's steering wheel down the front of his pants.
The bartender notices the odd display and asks the pirate,
"Do you know you have a ship's steering wheel down the front of your pants?"
To which the pirate replies,
"Arrrr! It's drivin' me nuts!"

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I'm a Fool and Today It Makes Me HAPPY!

Do you remember me saying sometime before Christmas that the English version of InDesign doesn't support Japanese? Well I called Adobe, gave them my name, rank, and software serial number and they connected me with a software engineer, of all people. I lamented to him that my English version doesn't do kana or kanji, and asked if there was any kind of patch or something that I could add to make it possible. Well, he directed me to the Type menu to open the Character palette.

"Does it display Japanese fonts below all the English ones?" he said.
"Yes it does," Matthew replied. Matthew could feel clouds starting to clear from his mind as he noted that the names of the fonts above the Arabic, Greek, and Chinese looking fonts had distinctly Japanese names. He wondered if he had noticed that before.
"Try selecting a Japanese font and typing something."
Getting quite excited as he grasped the breadth of his oversight, Matthew typed in the word Kana, and low and behold it became かな as he typed, and on the press of the return key turned into 仮名! Gasp! "It worked!'
"Yeah, I kinda wondered if that's all it was..."
"Thank you so much! You've saved me!"

So now I'm sitting at my desk positively glowing with satisfaction. It's like I've had a dream realised. All I ever wanted out of a software package is now truly in my hands! YESSSSSSS! Of course I also feel foolish. It makes sense that I shouldn't be able to switch between English and Japanese with a simple computer button. How is the computer to know which English font matches well with each Japanese font? It wants me to select them! It makes a lot of sense. On the one hand, I can't just type and flip flop back and forth like I do here, but when you consider that probably half of the readers of this don't have any Japanese support installed from their system discs (if windows) or have the language selected to display (if Mac), it's not such a big deal. Probably the Japanese version allows for the function of that button on my keyboard, but the Japanese version also costs ¥25,000 more ($250) and has all Japanese menus. I'd rather just be missing the button.

Happy Happy ハッピーハッピー、 嬉しくて嬉しい!

InDesign, isn'it?, originally uploaded by irodoramatic burnorama.

Can you believe we're going through with it?

Yes, we are going to do the Lord of the Rings Special Edition Movie Marathon a month from tomorrow.
I would really like to do it at my place, but there would be some complications. The first is for the at least two people coming from way out west. It would be nice if they could come on Friday night, but given that I have decided to do it on the day right after school ends, the chances of PTA enkais accross the board are pretty high. Like I might have one that Friday night as well. Which would make it complicated for anyone coming that night. It would also make it complicated that day to pick stuff up for the party the following day. I might try to get a half day nenkyuu or something.

But if we end up having the enkai on the Thursday, it's better for me. That way I can duck out after an hour of it and go to my eikaiwa class. But possibly one of my favorite teachers is leaving this year, so if there is an after party, I'd really like to be going to it... Complications.

Even so, Kamikatsu really is the ideal place to have it, in my opinion. I like the idea of the following day being able to go for a hike up a mountain or a long walk along a river, to visit the two waterfalls (though that involves some driving), to maybe do the caves in Jiganji, to eat lunch at ikkyuu chaya, and of course to have a nice long onsen, hopefully after the caves this time (or did i never tell you about that whole experience with my sister last year?). And if everyone wants to crash, the campsite is just around the corner, and by that time the weather should be warm enough to camp without a second thought. And it's just a thousand yen to pitch a tent. Of course, I have enough bedding for three (including myself) and a mattress for one more, which could all count as five maybe if people squeeze. And then there is floor space for maybe four more, so we could pull it off if everyone wanted to stay the night and four brought bedding, I think.

Then the only complication is fridge space. I figure I could borrow some space in the school fridge for a day if it were for a roast chicken and some vegetables. I need to see if I can use a day of nenkyu to roast that chicken though, or have a REALLY early morning one of those days... depending which is the enkai one.

Chicken to roast, guacamole to make, lembas to bake, and the rest can be collected around that time. Cheese, nuts, fruit, bread and butter, wine, mushrooms, crackers and mystery meat et cetera. Things that need to be solved: miruvor, orc draught, ent draught, worms (soba or udon with food coloring?).

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Time for a change, and the change is good.

Have I mentioned that I'm pretty much done with judo? We haven't practiced more than twice since August. There have only really been two members of the club for the longest time now, and the other member, Tom, wants to take more time for the novel he is writing. And as you ought to know from the previous four or so posts, I am a social animal. So the tiny tiny club of two of us and an instructor, while great for getting me to develop unusually fast in some respects, did little for maintaining my motivation.

I've decided to go for the second level anyways (thanks, Dad).

But what has me excited now is jujitsu. Jujitsu (/Jujutsu) is the Brazilian variation of judo. Judo focuses a lot on throwing, jujitsu focuses a lot on grappling on the ground. I've done two classes so far, and as of next week they will let me start sparring. There are two classes a week, but I can only really ever make it to the Wednesday one because the other is on Sunday when we usually have church or bible study. Nonetheless, it seems like there are usually four to ten people there on Wednesdays, and a couple of people near my hight and or over my weight. So yay for balance! This really is the next logical step for me. Judo has made me comfortable with a lot of the stuff that comes up already in jujitsu, and more than that, has given me the vocabulary necessary to understand instruction and corrections.

It's a pair of blue belts who conduct the class, though apparently there is a purple belt who does the sunday classes. What made me sure that this class was for me was when the main blue belt, Matsuda-san said while demonstrating holds and counters, "Don't think of it as a martial art. It's a game." Surely jujitsu isn't a sport in the way judo is. But there certainly are those strategy and tactics elements that make games fun. You can't play a fight, but you can play a game. I like to play. It's time for a change, and the change is good.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I have a question for all of you!

I am debating whether or not to go for my second level black belt or not.

- If I pass, I have a level 2 black belt
- I have already done half of the requirements for passing; I only need two more points, viz. to win two fights
- it would make my 70+ year old instructor very happy

- haven't properly trained in the last 8 months
- if I continue in martial arts, it will be in something other than judo
- if I pass, there will be $200 in fees for registering et cetera

So basically I am debating whether the gratification of the title of a second level black belt is worth the $200+ when I do not plan to continue with it. Of course, I may at some future date, who knows? but nonetheless, I think I would do something else. At the very least I have no intention of continuing it here where the class is only me and one other.

And I don't think I deserve a second level black belt. If I were fighting others of the same age and weight class, I would hardly stand a chance. Instead, if I take the test I will surely fight high school or university students.

And there is a paper test which because of the "language barrier" my instructor would take me aside and tell me all the right answers. Which feels really crappy, even though it's just a formality which none of the others actually fail, because if they speak the language they should know all the answers from being in their clubs. Bleh.

I think I don't want to do it, but I wonder if later on I will regret not having gone for it.

So my question for all of you is this,

If you were in my place, would you try for finishing your level two?

Going Through Withdrawl

So having had that weekend of intense social activity, I am now feelilng the total lack of it in my life. I crave it, I crave it so bad. Last night I had nothing to do and really needed sleep and rest to recover from last week, but all I wanted to do was go somewhere that had loads of people and energy. It was driving me up the wall. Maybe I would have been fine at a massive massive school.

My drug of choice is fraternization.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


Now it's Monday morning, staying up late to type last night made me late for school this morning and dead to the world. The whole weekend seems like some fleeting and unrecollectable dream. I want to sleep.

English Camp

It's nine o'clock on Sunday night as I start to write this.
I'm sorry, there are no pictures yet, and they may not come for a week; I still need to take 15 shots before I can develop the roll.

I have just come back from church following this weekend's Tokushima Kita High School "English Day 3," the English Camp. Sixty of that school's first and second year students (grade ten and eleven)– mostly first years– get to do debates, go to workshops, and hang out six-on-one with the ten ALTs (like me).

The weekend is one insane blur now, even though it just ended. I did it last year, too and loved it. This year was no disappointment.

The situation is perfect for me. Somehow it allows me to totally relax and show my unusual side. All weekend long. And instead of being criticised for it, everybody loves me! All of my random beatboxing, odd voices, interjectory odd sounds, startling by jumping out from behind stuff, sliding down bannisters, and general hyperactivity are fine, even enjoyed!

The breakdown:
Thankfully, I did get a full 9 hours of sleep on friday night, so I had enough energy to be alive, but I was still a full 15 minutes late for the appointed gathering time, but it wasn't a problem. I was early enough before the official start. We got to meet our groups right away. They were to come and find us after our brief self introductions. The first to come find me was Kanako, the one second year student in my group. She reminded me of one of my students at Kami-chu in my first year. She has this distinct way of talking that has a paced, slow deliberacy about it. The rest of the group came up shortly after; Kei, Yukari, Sayaka, Haruka, and Izumi: a bunch of shy but very smiley first year girls. They were mega shy at first, and it was a challenge to think of good questions to get them to talk and to feel comfortable. Yukari was the most helpful (or maybe the most awake? +_+) at that point, and really was trying her best. Izumi, a slight and quiet girl with glasses seemed reeeally tired. Haruka ("Spring-scent") was quiet but maintained a really warm smile. Kei looked on with intelligent eyes. Sayaka reminds me of one of my current grade eight girls, Miku. They are both tiny, lithe, high-energy girls that have jarring high excited laughs.

They were a cute bunch. It was a little intimidating for them due to being separated from their close friends. All the cliques had been chopped up and scattered amongst the ten groups. While of course I agree that it was the best and necessary thing to do, it did take away that security of being with a friend that can give the girls a lot of their boldness.
It was fun. I got them to write down their first name kanji, and only one of them thought their kanji had any meaning at all. That's interesting for me, because my image of Japanese names is of deep and visible meaning seen in the name. Like naming your kid Victoria or Angela.

I rode on the bus in the aisle seat between the four second year lads. They could (and maybe have?) made a band. Tetsuro plays bass (and he looks like a bass player, too!), Koji plays the drums (aka Yamaji, but don't call him that), Shota sings (and has a girlfriend, shhh!) and Kurisu plays the lead guitar. Fun, cool guys. Tetsuro's was the only name I could still remember from having met him before.
Hanging out with them sometimes reminded me of when Gary Schellenberg used to come by Tec-Voc to have lunch with Jared and me. We talked about music and stuff, pulled out our ipods and looked through them and stuff, it was magnificent.

As soon as we got into the room Mark Fennely, a cool prof from Shikoku University who has been here since the beginnings of the JET program, did the first debate session. It was much the same as the one he did last year, but that's not surprising considering how fabulously he's done it. If we were ever going to try to do debate stuff at my school, I would steal everything from his workshops. First he got them to formulate opinions and then go around the room seeing how many people agreed and disagreed. One of my girls went with "Matthew is better than Mark," and given that our group as number two was right near the front, Mark saw it almost right away. ^_^ It became a running gag for the duration of the camp! An opinion that has a near even split between agree and disagree is good topic for debate. Then it was on to finding reasons to support the opinions. Mark had a few karuta (card slapping?) games to reinforce.

After that was lunch, and I sat with my group and tried to get to know them more again. They were opening up more by this point and were asking me a lot of questions, too. Go girls!

Following lunch the crowd of kids was split in half for intonation and skit workshops. The one I was in was with one of the other Professors from Shikoku U, Robert Luxton (who looked and sounded like a Canadian Nathan Lane). He got the kids to act out the first scene from "Star Taxi," and doing it from memory, using lots of fun big gestures and tough-guy/cool-guy voice making. Then everyone performed for everyone at the end.

After a break with the chowing down of snacks and sugary beverages to make the kids wired was the first ALT conducted workshop. Jim, Sarah, and I were a workshop group, and at my suggestion we had prepared to do the same game I did last year: The Psychiatrist Game! If you have ever been subjected to this game, I promise you the version we did had way more variety and was way more accessible to ESL kids. If you don't know the game, the next time we are at a party together, I'll gladly subject you to it! ^_~

Another snack-break and it was into the second intonation workshop for me and the same group of kids. This time it was the third Shikoku U English prof, Robert Miller leading the kids through jazz chants, rhythmic tongue twisters, and We Will Rock You to get the kids accustomed to syllables and compressing words like native speakers. Good stuff and diverting.

The place we were staying was quite a big facility, and there were two or more other groups there at the same time. There was a crowd of soccer boys (who some of the Kita HS girls were eyeing and blushing at all through dinner that first day) and a smaller group in traditional samurai-like clothing. The conjecture is that they were practicing iaido, which is a kill-on-the-draw sword martial art. Is it a subgroup of kendo, or a group distinct on its own? I don't know. So anyways, before dinner all the kids from all the groups staying there had to go out on one of the big concrete areas for a ceremony and lecturing and so forth. Free time for the ALTs, so they showed us where our rooms were and some people went to walk at the beach (still too cold to swim, it had snowed in places that morning I hear).

After dinner the kids got to use the sento/onsen (public bath) for their evening baths, and the ALTs had more free time. The last scheduled event was Free Talking with ALTs (like me) for an hour. We split up into our base groups first and chatted for the first half hour. I took this chance when there were no other kids around to give the girls some of the mix CDs I'd made to give away on the weekend.
When it was becoming evident that my girls were just not energetic enough to get really animated, I went into crazy story telling mode, drawing pictures of the mohawk I had for three months at the end of university, telling about my high school long hair, my brother's many year mohawk which eventually reached 30 cm in length, and my sister's tri-hawk and the hairstylist's reaction. I also told about this past winter vacation and my principal's reaction to my hair suddenly going green. Maybe that was boring to read just now, because the fun is in the voices and actions.

Just when they were really starting to open up, and we were having a bunch of fun, Audrey (the MC, I guess?) called out that the ALTs had to switch groups. Boo. But it was fun, too of course. I was rotated into a group where every girl's name started with M. (By the way, in 57 kids there were only 9 boys). Joanna's group. I don't remember what we talked about, really, as they were way more lively and conversation went all over. At some point I overheard Jonny talking to my girls and finding out that one of them really liked to draw. My internal monologue suddenly piped up with, "What? Aaargh! Did I totally miss asking what they love to do or something? How could I have not found that out after a full day already! I suck! Crap! Let's do better!" But I guess that's beside the point. The point is that once again, we got cut off by Audrey announcing it was time for all the kids to go to bed, for the ALTs and teachers to have their chance at the bath facilities, and also that there was to be an "evening meeting" for the teachers and ALTs in Room 6 following their soaking in the tubs. Evening meeting = staff party.

I was the last of the ALTs to leave the room, drifting from student group to student group. (So much fun) Then it was onwards to the bath, where I was the last to arrive and with the last three in leaving. Then to the party, which was really chill. Just sitting aroung munching on snacks, drinking cola juice or beer, and chatting. At first it was pretty split between ALTs and Japanese teachers, but then when a bunch of people left we pushed a bunch of tables closer and things got better. We talked a lot about Kita High's politics and stuff that frustrates them about their unorthodox principal. They have got to be some of the hardest-working English teachers in the prefecture. I would love to team-teach with Mr. Kitamura, Mr. Tada, or Ms. Tanaka. I imagine class would be fantastic. They are the kind of people I could play off of really well I think. And working with a hard worker makes me really want to tow the line. But even if I was at that school, since they have nine or ten classes of each grade, I would only ever be in a given class once in a while, which blows. And I have strong doubts that my Japanese would have improved so much as it has, had I been there. And of course my view of the school is warped because all the students I have met from it are the ones who are really keen on English.

Being in the last three to leave the room, and heading back, I noted that most of the students still seemed to be up... that was between one and two, I think.

At around five I was awoken by the shocking dryness of our heated room, and arising to turn the heat off, I also went to the washroom. The House of Youth, the complex where all this was happening, has a lot of it's functions on motion sensor. Of course there are the urinals, faucets and hand dryers as like anywhere, but the creepy one is the lights. When you walk around at night in the dark halls they blink on before and behind you like you are in a science fiction movie. Even in the bathroom. So in I walk, on with the lights, I make use of the urinal, and upon washing my hands I hear one of the toilets flush and out walks Dennis, saying, "Hey man, thanks for turning the lights back on."

So then back to sleep and before I woke I had a dream that I was lying on a bed next to an open door with a lot of my former students walking past in the adjoining hall. Then the current principal of Kamikatsu JHS comes in and with sing-song voice informing me in English that it is morning and time to get up, he picks up my matress and rolls me off of it onto the floor. At about this point I wake up, before my alarm, with less than six hours of sleep, and with full knowledge that I will be getting no more. Pack up the bed and onwards to breakfast.

At this point my antics had gained me some celebrity, I guess, because when I sat down on one side of a group of girls with my breakfast, they had a minor freak-out. It was like "Yay!" + "Really? With us?" + *Squeal!*
And for some reason, Sayaka who is in my group was among them and reacting just as strongly. An impromptu survey revealed that none had slept more than three hours. Ha. Fenn (Mark) was sitting on the other side of the group and kept encouraging them to ask me questions like if I have a girlfriend and so forth. I was funny and pretty fun. I said that I liked taller girls, throwing out a number: 162 cm. One of the girls got really excited and was like, "I'm 161 cm!" I got her to stand up and as I suspected it was not that she was tall, but that my ballpark number had been too low. Oops. (>_> ;;) For the record I think I tend to go for girls in the 167-177 cm range. Uhh, that's perhaps 5'"6 to 5'10 for you folk back home. So I also got to explain that I would only date a Christian girl and why.

Not that it seemed to dissuade them much.

There was a bedroom cleanup time this morning and then the second workshop. Snacks, and then the second debate. My girls really shone in that second stage of debates. There were several games where all then groups were competing, and with only my restating of some questions they were able to come up with great retorts and rebuttals for the reasons in the Jeopardy like game. I think they tied for second with another team. There were no prizes or anything, just points to make everyone competitive. I wanted them to win! Maybe they weren't as desperate to compete and win as I was, but they responded fantastically to just a little nudging, and when they saw that they had the capacity to do well, they really got into it. Who says a little competition is a bad thing, eh?

And then, in the proper debate they were all-stars. Out of three topics, they chose to debate "Living alone is better than living with your family." Haruka, Kei, and Kanako took the family side, and Yukari, Izumi, and Sayaka took the alone side. Everyone suggested good and bad points for each alone and with family which we all wrote down, and then in the debate challenge (which I had to score and pick a winning side), they were brilliant. They had no rebuttals planned so they had to make them up on the fly and they would whisper into teammates ears to get them to make it stronger. Izumi at one point rebutted a rebuttle because she didn't want their team to be sissy and always accept the shut-down. You go girl! It was really fun to watch them debate, and I wished that we had longer because they were on a real roll. But the session was well overtime as it was when it ended, so no dice. The hard part was scoring. I had to go with family in the end, because they had made so many of the alone arguments look irrelevant so seemingly effortlessly. But it was really close.

Then a truncated lunch followed but MASSIVE INSANE SOCIAL SESSION where everyone milled about like mad in the main room exchanging cards and chatting and taking photos and so forth. You gotta know I loved it. And I still would have loved it even if I weren't such a center of attention, though of course that didn't hurt! (^ – ^)

Then our last round of workshop, getting the fourth group. The high point was probably group three, but that was maybe because two of the guys in the group had done it the previous year, so explaining it and getting it moving took way less effort, and there were at least two guys willing to give it a try right from the get-go. In some of the more shy and quiet groups we'd had to let girls be pairs of psychiatrists in order to get anyone to try. It worked pretty well though. Jim will probably take the cards from me before I leave so he can do it again next year. I guess that means he enjoyed the event enough to have already decided to come back again.

Then while the students cleaned up we had the onerous task of picking just one student from our base groups who had been the MVP for the weekend. I was pleased with how well all of my girls had participated. Yukari, Sayaka, and Kanako had all been markedly more outgoing, and between the latter two it was really hard to decide. I ended up picking Sayaka because she had been more carefree and energetic, as well as being helpful and encouraging to the other members of the group. It was such a tough choice though.

Then was the awards ceremony, and more free time to mill about and take photos and in general delay leaving as long as possible.

In the parking lot I declared Bus #2 as the crazy bus. Jim, Dennis, and I joined the nine boys in the back which like a train we set in a big U-shape. Of course everyone forward of that was female. As soon as the bus was in motion I called to one of the teachers at the front of the bus, asking if like last year we were able to sing karaoke on the bus. Lo and behold the bus was once again equipped with a karaoke machine, and moments later I was singing the worst rendition of "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" that I have ever had the displeasure and shame of being heard to perform. And then the hour plus ride back was consumed with singing, finishing with the back half of the bus waiting parked in the parking lot while Shota, Kurisu, and myself finished singing "Chiisana Koi no Uta" by Mongol 800. At some point on the latter half of the drive Bus #1 had stopped right behind us at a light, and looking into it we could see that nearly everyone was sound asleep. We waved at them as long as we were stopped but only one person ever noticed and waved back.Truly, I say to you were the crazy bus, and it was good.

One of my now obvious subconscious goals was to talk to absolutely everybody. Let's see how I did:

Okay, so I printed 80 cards to begin with. 11 were somewhat botched and only to be used in emergency. Of the remaining 67, One I gave to a teacher, one I gave to a guy at church afterwards, I have seven left in hand, and I gave one student two because he lost the first. That means cards given to 57 students. And there were 57 kids signed up to go, with two or three absent at the roll call. But maybe they still made it before the buses left. That means I may very well have accomplished my goal of talking to every single kid! This could also mean my reckoning is off! (O_o) (Of course the workshops don't count.) Every time I gave a card away I tried to take time to talk a little to the person to whom I gave it. All the students made cards to give away and I have 46 of those, so at BARE MINIMUM I had at least a chat with at least 80% of the kids there. Tetsuro and Koji, two of the guys I talked to a bunch didn't have cards to give (slackers! ^_^).

So, for anyone who wasn't there, skip this next bit, cos I doubt you'll care. By group, the people who gave me cards were:
My girls! All! -- Kei, Haruka, Sayaka (MVP), Izumi, Yukari B, Kanako!
1: Brian's All?-- Yu, Mizuki N (MVP), Ayumi F, Mizuki M, Nami
3: Martin's -- Yuka M* Saki, Kuribo (MVP), Yukari, Akane H,
4: Joanna's All!-- Maiko, Mina, Mana, Minami (MVP), Mari O
5: Dennis' -- Yuki A, Ayumi T, Jun (MVP)
6: Jonny's -- Yuka K, Taro, Kurisu (MVP), Tomoe
7: Sara's -- Shohei (MVP), Nodoka, Nami Y, Takeuchi
8: Christine's -- Natsumi S, Yukiko (MVP?), Shota, Yayoi
9: Jim's -- Ayumi O, Hitomi, Koichi, Natsumi K, Ayaka
10: Tom's -- Yuka N, Kayoko, Makiko, Soma
...and Sayuri, who didn't give her last name on her card, so I have no idea which group she was in.

1: Murakami? 3. Wasa, Hama? 5. Yasukawa, Otsuka? 6. Kawano, Kawanabe 7. Okita, Kono 8. Kanno, Inoue 9. Tetsuro (MVP), Takeda 10. Koji (MVP)
^^^ So if any of you student read this, and I didn't get a chance to talk to you much, I'm sorry! I'll try harder next time!
(If someone emails me first names, misgroupings, or MVP corrections, I'll fix them!)

If there was one frustrating thing this weekend, saying it might offend a couple ALTs. Please don't take offense!

I was definitely frustrated whenever at mealtimes an ALT sat directly across from me or directly beside me, not placing themselves in a group of kids. It's one thing if they feel they need a break from the effort of conversing to (at times, quite shy) students, but really, do you need to deprive them of these few relaxed hours they have where they can just chat with an interested foreigner? Go sit with the other ALTs who are sitting together and not with students. Like, really. I did not appreciate having my attention so misdirected. But how do you say that to a person. "Hey, don't sit by me, I don't want to be talking to you right now." It only happened twice, but in only four meals, that's 50%. Granted I was(/we were?) still able to give a bunch of attention to the kids, but just not nearly as much as if we'd sat farther apart. Part of it was my own fault, too. Both times I ended up in there much earlier than a great number of the students. If I were to do it again, I would make a point of coming in with the last quarter of the students so that I could find some place right in their midst.
But aside from that, no real complaints that I can think of.

Anyways, so somehow I get to be the superstar, the celebrity, the popular guy at this event, even though I was so not that when I was in high school. Perhaps someone else can give their thoughts as to why it happens. It happened last year and it happened again this year. Here are my theories as to why. It could be one or all or a combo, I don't know:
1. I have this image of the kids being the English superstars of Tokushima. That affects the way I interact with them, and that attitude somehow makes them feel great around me.
2. Like any camp away from the norm, and like any student, I feel free to step away from the constraints I put on myself or have put on me in normal life, and feel totally at ease with acting totally wild. And kids love wild.
3. Acting wild is also being totally into the event, totally following along with whoever is speaking an loudly supporting them. This translates to leadership for the kids, and so then the popularity I get may not be unlike the popularity given to a group's natural leader. If so, it's fun to take that role once in a while.
4. Well, my parents said when I was a toddler I had no idea what to do with toys. And only when my younger brother came along and played with them did I finally understand what they were for and start playing. Since then, my maturity may have been fractured such that while part of me has matured to act like an adult, there is another part of me that is still just a teenager.
5. The taking time to talk to everyone and joke around with them and startle them and play with them even though I've never seen them makes them feel like I am their friend right away.
6. I'm just devilishly handsome and undeniably cool; so every girl wants to be with me and every guy wants to be like me.
7. It's an unexplainable phenomenon that is landed upon by either outstanding random chance or divine appointment, but either way we should hardly expect it to continue.
8. I'm out of my mind, I was neither popular nor well liked. In fact being so raving mad and delusional, I don't realise that I was never even at any "English Camp" to begin with.

Okay, now for my favorite moment/quotes of the weekend:
Two girls (Kanako and Mina) chanting in unison, "Matthew I'm crazy about you!"
One girl to my left in the psychiatrist game, in answer to a question, "I want to be older so that I could marry Matthew."
Shota still shivering and laughing a minute after I startled him and several others in a the hall, "Now I have make good memories!"[sic]
Girl at breakfast, "I'm 161 cm!"

==I feel really bad that I don't remember more of the names for various faces...==
It is after two on Monday morning as I finish writing this. I'll post it when I get to school tomorrow.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A sample of what I've been up to.

So in preparation for this weekend's English Camp I have been working on making a bunch of mix CDs and liner notes for them, as well as some business cards as well.
Here is the latter:

I think they look cool, but as I was cutting last night, I realised that the concept is really weak, in that there is no concept. And the graphic could use some adjustment to look better. But these are the kinds of things you do when you spend more than a day on them. Now's not a good time for me to continue commenting though, because I'm really quite sleep deprived.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A moment of trepidation

Just now I recieved in my hands a peel-openable mail-out the size of a postcard. But when I saw my handwriting on the front, a wave of various emotions washed over the inner Matthew. Peeling open the card with a single thump heartbeat, scanning as quickly as possible trying to get understanding beyond the understandable panic. My mind refused to process the numbers my eyes were seeing. As a moment of anxiety was threatening to wash over my conciousness, my eyes landed on those two beautiful kanji: 合格 gokaku (pass).
"Yessssssssssssssssss." Escaped my lips with glee as I held the card aloft in triumph. I had passed the level two of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test with a full 73.25%.

80/100 - Writing Vocabulary
85/100 - Listening
128/200 - Reading/Grammar
293/400 - Total Score

Guess who's a happy boy?

Productive Evening

Last night at house group Barbara made lasagna. Two kinds! They were both so good. I don't know when was the last time I'd had the opportunity to eat such delicious lasagna.
Because we had our bible study at Barbara's place, and because Barbara's place is imported from the States and it feels like this crazy bubble of home, everyone of course stayed reasonably late. I got home I think not too long before eleven.

Then I read four chapters of Evolution as a Religion by Mary Midgley, read some of Tsugumi by Yoshimoto Banana, proceeded to sketch out several pages of ideas for my business cards I need to make this week for this weekend's English Camp, and planned out two CDs to burn. Needless to say, it is now Monday, I have not slept, and without a word of sarcasm, I feel great. It's good for me to keep my body conditioned to handle the occasional all nighter. Oh yeah, I also washed the dishes and did some laundry at like six in the morning. Go me!

Monday, February 06, 2006

High Speed Internet More a Curse Than a Blessing?

So I was getting all excited about high-speed internet, knowing it will reach the school in the next two or three months. I have even been saving all my software updates. But now there's a catch. The school will no longer have its own server. There will be a server at the community center that all the school computers log on to. And they are going to set it to refuse personally bought computers. All the permanent staff will get computers for their desks, but that excludes me, the secretary, and the tea lady. So instead of meaning faster internet for Matthew, this will mean no internet for Matthew. Poor Matthew. Or maybe not. It sounds like there will still be two shared use computers, which for two years were what I was using for my internet access before I got my laptop this summer.

So I guess I'll have to buy myself a USB pen so that I can transport stuff from my computer to an office computer. I can still do all my typing on my computer, so there is no worry about my main blog suffering, but it may dissuade me from so much posting on my secondary, tertiary and qarternary blogs. Of course the upside is that it will result in me doing more study and real work at my desk, so I can't complain.

So I guess high speed internet is for me a benison wrapped in a frustration wrapped in a percieved blessing.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

LotR on the brain

So in the past five days I have watched all the special features on the special editions of both Return of the King and The Two Towers, as well as watching the special edition of RotK at least twice, and the first half of TT once, with a plan to finish it tonight, and then maybe watch a commentary or two this week. All the stuff in the making is super interesting, and makes me wish I could have been involved in one of the design stages. But the watching of all that in such a short period of time means that LotR has been invading my dreams. Have you ever had that experience of playing a video game for nearly every waking hour of a day or two, and then having all the people in your dreams be characters from the game? No? Well it's like that, except that it's only been evenings for me that have been LotR. I wouldn't have thought it precedent enough for dream invasion.

So if one were to watch all of them back to back in special edition, the full Lord of the Rings movie experience would take 11 or 12 hours. I was trying to think how it could be done enjoyably in a day and this is as far as I got:

7:30 - people arrive
8:00 - breakfast: English muffins, sausages, eggs, orange juice etc.
9:00 - Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Special Edition, Disc One
11:00 - 30 minute break, get up, walk around, stretch legs, etc.
11:30 - LotR FotR SpEd Disc Two
13:30 - lunch: rabbit stew and lembas, or imitations thereof. No potatoes. Alternatively, fish raw (but not wriggling): sashimi.
14:30 - Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Special Edition, Disc One
16:30 - 30 minute break, get up, go to washroom, stretch legs, etc.
13:00 - LotR tTT SpEd Disc Two
19:00 - dinner: Roast chicken, cherry tomatoes, et al.
20:00 - Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Special Edition, Disc One
22:00 - 30 minute break, stretch, washroom, talk, etc.
22:30 - LotR RotK SpEd Disc Two
24:30 - Several options: sit around chatting, LotR trivial pursuit, midnight soccer/ultimate/volleyball/other,
XX:00 - people go home and sleep or crash at mine.
Next Day - Do something really active like climb a mountain or something

I kind of imagine trying to pull this off when I return to Canada, and do it on a Saturday sometime, but if a bunch of people in Tokushima wanted to do it, I think we could pull it off, (except maybe the LotR trivial pursuit, does anyone here have it?)
The thing is that trying to pull it off here gets complicated when it's at my place, because an 8:00 start means at least a 7:00 departure for people...
But Kamikatsu has great stuff to make for a good next day, I think. Onsen, cheap amazing teishoku, waterfalls and hikes, etc.

So like I said, I've had LotR on the brain lately. At least I like the movies now.