Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Blog Failure

Hello All,

Yes I am alive and well, and clearly a blog failure.  This is mainly because I have been very busy.  Being busy is a good thing.  I have had things for work like mid-terms and speech contest that were stressful.  I have had a few adventures like going to Kyoto that were unique and amazing.  There have been holiday parties and dinners with friends spread all over the region that are fun but take more time and effort because of how spread out we are.  And there has been the discovery of how to check out books from the library onto my kindle (that is just dangerous to my ever being productive). 

Staying busy has kept me very happy and I am enjoying things here immensely, however I have been getting caught up a bit with going out and doing things, rather than staying in and being productive (not all that bad but I still should focus a bit more often).  I am behind on my blogging, behind on my Japanese studies, and behind on sleep. 

That being said winter is just around the corner and I am sure the cold will motivate me to stay in a bit more and get things done!   So my apologies to those who have been waiting for more info I will try to re-dedicate myself to posting something even if it is short at least once every-other week. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Zippity doo da

I went to the YKK zipper factory, the largest zipper manufacturer in the world (go ahead look at your zipper right now its about a 50/50 shot you will see YKK on it) and made a zipper here is how

Steps to making a zipper:

1.  Choose a tape (I went with hot pink, Surprise suprise)

2.  Bite it with a metal alligator looking tool thing (no I am not up on my tool names other than the basics) and wrap a rubber band around it 3 times

3.  Stick the teeth on one by one…all facing the same direction or you will have to start over again…that direction should be towards the middle or you will have to stqrt over again again


 4.  Pound it 5 or six times using the wheelie machine

5.  Hammer in the zipper stops or in our case have the professional hammer the zipper stops in place

6. rub it along wax (which helps it run smoothly and quickly in case you have any slow zippers you wanna touch up)

7.  Ta Da You have yourself a zipper…back in the day a skilled worker could whip out like 100 of these a day…I do not think I would have been one of the skilled ones

Anyway, I didn’t think I would find this part of my tour to interesting…instead I was annoyed we had to leave so soon and I didn’t have much time to look around and read the displays in the zipper museum.  So I focused in on just one section of the exhibit, which was about the air tight zippers they use (or used I don’t know if they still do) on astronaut suits.  I really enjoyed it, and the fact that I did tells me I might be turning into my dad (which is long as I never take as long to go through a museum as he did at the Royal Observatory and National Maritime Museum)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Kurobe Gorge

Happened 9/17
Written 9/27

This post (and the next few) are all things I did in my prefecture with a great group of other foreigners living and working in the area.  I broke the posts up because it would be way long if I put it all into one.  I am starting with Kurobe Gorge because I get really camera happy whenever I hike in the hills, and it was one of my favorite parts of the weekend. 
 These photos are from the town we caught a sightseeing train in...I believe it was called Unazuki.  The whole area has hot springs and things running through it so that fountain is warm and we had a lovely little foot soak before heading out.

 The western european castle looking thing is actually a hydro-electric power plant.

 These bridges (all along the way) are for monkeys not people...but I never saw any on them

 We were on a curve so I caught the front of our adorable orange train in a pic

 Fog, Fog, Fog ............and more fog

 One with me in it to make the rents and G-rents happy
 This area is known as the jumping monkey gorge...the name once again getting my hopes up that I would see some cute critters...sadly it is named that because it is the skinnyest place along the water so monkeys used to jump across there (I suppose they still could now but they have all the convienient bridges so why bother)

I hope to make it back here soon cause there are lots of trails in the area other than the one I was on...also I need to get a picture of this bridge without that pesky branch!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vegan dinner a truly foreign experience

People who know me, know I talk about food constantly...and when I am not talking about food it's probably because I am busy eating.  In particular I find Bacon and Cheese to be as close to perfection as is possible (notice the capitalization just like with names, because they are like close friends to me).  So when I was invited to a vegan friends birthday dinner I had my doubts.  That being said most the food was tolerable and some of it even delicious.  The first course was some appetizer type stuff including marinated veggies, beets, and a sweet potato type thing.  The second course was my personal favorite and had some salad, bread, and something that tasted like deep fried chicken poppers (my fav. item of the meal).  There was also beans and rice which did for the most part manage to stay in my spice capacity though I picked my way around some fiery peppers.  After that was a pesto pasta dish with some cherry tomatoes.  And finally a Carib cake...I will admit I still despise Caribs, but everyone else found the cake delicious.  The others appreciated my piece more than I probably would have even if it had been a cake of a non Carib base.  Anyway I enjoyed myself, with good food and good company.  But, veganism and veggidom is just not for me.       

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The (long delayed) Tateyama Adventure

Took Place: Aug. 11
Written: Sept. 2

     Tateyama or Mount Tate is one of the three holy mountains in Japan (along with Fuji and  Haku).  I have heard it referred to as “where the gods live.” In my mind I refer to it as the “happy mountain” (because obviously it is compared to Fuji or as I think of it Mount Doom).  

     Anyway Tateyama happens to be in my home ken of Toyama and as part of my orientation I had the opportunity to hike it or to go to the onsen.  This was before mount doom and I chose to hike!  It was wonderful.  You get up in the cool fresh mountain air and go for a lovely hike and at the end of it there is a shrine (Shinto I believe, possibly called the Oyama shrine but I could be messing that up) and a priest to bless you and give you sake.  I thoroughly enjoyed my day even if we did spend some of it in the mists/clouds rather than with a view.

(Ill add more photos later, but I did not take any of the priest or shrine at the top because I was not sure if it would be polite or not)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Daily Life: School Club Activities

I have heard good things and bad things about getting involved with club activities while here.  The good are that the students get more comfortable around you, and are more willing to try to use English with you.  One bad thing being that they can be a huge time commitment.  Another negative thing I have not heard, but predict, is that it is one more thing that separates me from the other teachers.  I am very young compared to many of the teachers, I am clueless as to what’s going on a good portion of the time, and when other teachers are involved in the clubs it is as a supervisor or coach where as I am a participant.

Needless to say I wanted to give it a try since most of what I had heard was positive.  Now, I have visited two clubs.  At my base school I went to a girl’s soccer club practice.  At my visit school I went to the co-ed gymnastics practice (They have a trampoline, I got more excited than a 10 year old counting their candy Halloween night).    I noticed the benefit of the students trying to use English with me instantly.  Especially at the soccer practice where the larger number of students may have been an advantage, as a few of them liked to confer with one another about what to say before approaching me.  The downside was not what I predicted, but I should have.  Someone who has been referring to 20-30 minutes of jogging as a good workout for the last year is likely unprepared for 3 hour long practices, in the Japanese heat, with students who do it everyday.  Turns out I am slow and out of shape (duh).  I quickly got very sweaty, sore, and sunburned.  I may even have pulled a muscle though I won’t be able to confirm or deny this until tomorrow.  The other half the equation is that in summer clubs happen during the day rather than at the end of it.  It is decidedly unpleasant to change into business clothes after exercising.  It also was probably rather unpleasant for any teachers near me as practice ended at noon, and I spent the whole afternoon gross.  

Even so, I am really glad that I went and hope to visit a variety of clubs during my time here.   (Though I may try to get away with cheering instead of playing some of the time) 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Morning Show

At my visit school we record a brief English radio program with a highlighted phrase or word per day.  It consists of a short English conversation between another native English speaker and me, and then two students using the key word or phrase in "their own" sentence.  The most amusing thing about this is that the students don’t volunteer, have time to practice/prepare, or get to choose what they will say.  No this is no Wayzata New’s Break where I imagine getting air time was competitive (though I don’t actually know, because I would have had give up a gym class in order to try a class like that, No thankyou!).  Anyway, the students are chosen at random by the teacher in charge of the program.  He just walks around the hall grabbing whatever students happen to cross his path.  It was hilarious watching a group of girls launch themselves into a classroom when they heard him around the corner.  And they didn’t stop there, they proceeded to shove into the only area in the room (right behind the door) that is not visible from the hall.  Surprisingly enough since I have never enjoyed hearing my voice as it actually sounds rather than as it is in my head, I really enjoy doing these recordings and letting my newly discovered cheesy DJ alter ego out.