Thursday, September 28, 2006

been a while but for some reason can't bring myself to actually sit down and write.
prolly 'cause i know that i have a few things to mention and that takes time.

first. The Answer to the Simpsons quiz from last week's post is A, congratz to Kevin who is the only winner and will get a super duper prize that is so cool it cannot be mentioned for fear of unsurmountable rage of jealous that it'll put everyone else into. i am trying to keep this blogger a happy, safe space for all to visit.

last week saturday, two students from my school participated in the Kunigami area English speech contest. One of them took 2nd place. Actually, it should probably be referred to as third place, but they don't call it that. For some reason they award a first place and two second places. a bit odd. maybe 'cause it's nicer to say that she got second and not third. anyways. we're going to the all Okinawa speech contest on Monday. Should be interesting. I think the speech contest is more tense than the story contest because it's a national thing. The winners from Okinawa will go to a competition in Tokyo. I hope that my student does well but I am not stressing her out. The point of all these contests is to enjoy them, I think. In the long run, I don't know how much good it does them, except to teach them public speaking (in a foreign language) and public speaking should be enjoyed rather than feared.

the other success of recent days has been my passing of the dreaded Japanese practical driving test! I took a two hour course in a neighbor village and think it greatly improved my chances of passing. Am very happy, even though i don't actually have my license yet because i have to go back to Naha and watch a video, after which i will be officially legal once more. Don't know when i'll get a chance to get down there, though. The video is shown only once a day at 1pm, and i'd rather not skip out on any more classes, so it'll have to wait 'til Fall break, which thankfully starts soon.

Won't be going anywhere for the break. Have to put my car in the shop to renew my shaken. Shaken is like the yearly emissions test back home. It's a check of car's safety for which i have to pay an exorbent amount of money, especially if any work has to be done on my car to bring it up to speed on standards. I really hope that it won't be more than a grand, although because my car has a bigger engine, the shaken on it costs more. Sigh.

I have been staying in the north the last couple of weekends and have been really enjoying it. Last weekend went to a festival put together by the 20somethings living in the northern villages and towns. Last year was their first festival and this year was the 2nd attempt. It was wonderful. Very chill, on the grass, a few food stands, five eisa groups, a couple of garage bands, a breakdancing group. Am really glad i went. I told a couple of people in my village's Eisa group that i want to practice with them for next year. They start practice in June.

On sunday our village held a track and field event. I went and watched most of it. Didn't participate because i wasn't asked to and couldn't have joined on the day. Everything was very meticulously planned out. Who, where, when, wearing what color head band. The athletes were mostly adults, although there was a relay for elementary school through junior high school kids. And also some of my students ran the 100m dash. The competition was between the tiny villages that make up Ogimi-son. I heard some names for the first time. Most of them are just a few blocks big, but historically are a separate place.
The Okinawans are very community oriented. Perhaps this can be said about Japanese as well. It seems that people are very involved in the things that happen in the village. Sport events, cultural events, festivals, school activities--all of it is always a joined effort by many people. Things and people are connected here in ways that i have never observed in America. It's really comforting.

This weekend I'm going to check out Hentona High School's fest. Should be fun. High schools have sports fests, undoukais, every other year. On the off years, they have culture fests, which i am told are a lot of fun. I have not seen one yet, so want to check one out and it just so happens that there is a high school within walking distance from my house.
This weekend is also the Okuma fest which is open to the island and i'll be checking that out Saturday and possibly Sunday nights.
Sunday, i've been asked to participate in a relay at the Ogimi elementary school's undoukai. I'll go early and take some pics. am thinking elementary school undoukai should be quite fun. Each of the four elementary schools will be having it on that day, so maybe i'll start at my own, Kijoka, elem. and move onto to Ogimi then Shioya, then Tsuha. we'll see. am gonna be biking to it all so all depends on my energy.

see. told you. too much writing.


Monday, September 18, 2006

monday night. the Respect for the Aged holiday is coming to a close. Today Ogimi JHS had its 27th undoukai or as translated into English, sports day.
Due to the typhoon, the event had to pushed back one day to allow for set up on Sunday afternoon instead of Saturday afternoon. Saturday the typhoon swept past Okinawa inflicting minimal damage but making itself known with strong winds and rain. The rattling of window panes is extremely loud here but i only really noticed it when i couldn't hear my movie and had to turn up the volume. I think i've grown quite used to the banging of the panes; i'd probably be startled if my house was in complete silence.

The painting of the bathroom went quite well despite my complete lack of qualifications to take on the task. I started painting without putting down the newspapers if that gives you any idea of my inadequacy. I'm just not a painter of surfaces. or canvaces for that matter. all of that ability skipped me entirely and doubled itself through my sisters. i'm ok with that.

i'm happy to say, though, that my bathroom is now somewhat happy looking which gave me the idea to move on to the toilet next. i figure if i buy a can of paint that's gonna cost me an arm and a leg, it'll make me use it.

i've recently noticed that when i type, my fingers reproduce the words from my brain phonetically rather than how they're meant to be spelled. i have also spelled out words correctly but they were the wrong words needed at the time. some sort of connections in my brain are being strained with the increase in Japanese study of recent weeks. I worry.

Although, at least my Japanese is improving. So much so that i surprised myself today by giving a brief speech to the PTA and teachers gathered to congratulate themselves on a job well done. I'll admit that it wasn't the longest or most elaborate speech, but it was in complete sentences and grammatically correct and surprised people who expected to have Mr. Chinen translate for me.
Otsukaresama to me!

Below are a few photos from the last two days. The first three are me playing around with the editor on the undoukai photos. And the last two are of me, one in the teacher's office in my new Ogimi Chuugakko sports shirt designed by me and ordered by all the teachers for the undoukai. And the second shows off my cool shades with the ocean behind me a day after the typhoon.

Also, photos have been added from the Undoukai and to the "keitai" folder.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

it's raining. must be typhoon named ShanShan on its way. It's coming to spoil weekend's plans for quite a few people. I plan on painting my bathroom.
The students are on their way to the gym to practice for the undokai. Again. Hopefully the typhoon will give us a clear day on Sunday so that it can take place.

The student teacher is letting me lead. As much i like that initiating role, i don't think she's getting much out of the experience if she keeps turning to me to start up activities and to remember what is next on the lesson plan. She has done that several times already in classes and it's either due to nervousness or forgetfulness or lack of confidence. I don't know. I think she could be a good teacher but she needs to start trusting in her own abilities. I wonder, though, if i'm being a bit to ready to take charge. Today, i tried to let her initiate and it didn'T work. She waited for me. She turned, expecting me to go to the next stage in the lesson plan. It's sad that the one of very few times i get to lead in the classroom, i am not looking forward to it. Oh well.

And here's a couple of things to spruce up the blog a bit.

First, a quiz from my Simpsons calendar. This one really made me chuckle so take a stab at the correct choice and i'll post the answer next week.

In "Sweets and sour Marge" (DABF03), what does Homer lick off the floor of the Kwik-E-Mart during his sugar withdrawals?
A. A mixture of blood and VapoRub
B. A Squishee spill
C. Donut powder
D. Broken glass

and here's the latest quiz from
You Are 48% Cynical

Yes, you are cynical, but more than anything, you're a realist.
You see what's screwed up in the world, but you also take time to remember what's right.

oooh. it just thundered really loudly and the music teacher said, こわい

Monday, September 11, 2006

had a great weekend with the Block. On Saturday we had a special and secret activity planned to be followed by a bbq. Due to weather, however, the plans had to be changed up. The bbq was still held at the Nago 21st Century Park when the skies cleared up after 2pm. There's a shop in Nago, probably one of a few, where one can rent a bbq and purchase all the meats imaginable for it, including weeners, several varieties of yakitori, yakisoba noodles, veggies, sauces, etc. one stop shopping for a succesfull bbq outing. which is what we had. Not all from the block could make it but those who did proclaim they had a great time. After the bbq we went on to bowling and that was followed by karaoke late into the night.
Sunday some slept in, some got up early to bike their way to Arume, a village on the east coast of the island where the vice blockhead, Ben, resides. He reserved us an afternoon of sea kayaking at one of the Ecotouring locations. We kayaked to a secluded beach, had a swim, and kayaked back. It was great. Thanx, all. :)

school is busy and so am i. staying late to practice for speech contest but enjoying it.
the student teacher is really getting into classes. we taught her first one today and it went well, i thought. she really gets into the grammar explanations, unlike someone i know. it's just too bad that the classes have been cut to a third this week because of the afternoon practices for the undokai.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

on the way to Naha yesterday i was passed by an ambulance. The lights were on and the sirens were blaring. I would like to say that it wheezed past me in a disjointed cacophony. It's good imagery. But this is Okinawa and no ambulance has ever "wheezed" past me. They have gone slightly faster than the average speed, and they have slowed down at traffic lights. Yesterday, the ambulance was just a couple of cars ahead of me and going slower than the cars around it. It was obvious because the cars around it where trying to slow down so that they wouldn't be overtaking the ambulance and possibly embarassing the driver. i'm sure lives are saved in a timely fashion. Rushing is not in the vocabulary.

the schools is in a frenzy. the pre-undokai frenzy in which i am trying desperately not to get caught. on tuesday, when the school was practicing eisa in the gym, i went home to take a nap; on wednedsay, when girls were outside dancing and boys inside practicing with bo, i was profusely sweating in my car on the way back from Naha. Today, i won't be so lucky. Today, i will join in the "folk dancing." At least it'll be the same as last year, and i won't have to do too much thinking.

after undokai preporations, i will practice for the speech contest with two students. They're both 3rd graders and good students. One has good pronounciation but is quiet and lacks confidence. The other speaks fast, loud, but is missing "m" "b" and "v" in most words. I enjoy the practices but they are tiring. I try to remind myself, whenever i get slightly frustrated with them, that they are memorizing a 350 word speech in English majority of which they don't understand.

I have ordered two books that might help me cook Japanese. One is full of pictures and has simple recipes for bento lunches. And the other is a dictionary of Japanese food; no pictures, just descriptions and explanations of all foods and ingredients that might be considered japanese. btw, i learned that if a food can't be eaten with chopsticks or drunk from a bowl, it is not considered Japanese. I think my new goal for being here will be to create good looking bento boxes. Should be fun. Am glad i canceled school lunch because now i have to make my own and sandwiches can get boring after a while.

A young female student teacher will be working with me in English classes starting next week. She speaks English! She's been here since Monday, but hasn't had much to do with classes yet since we had final tests and then they had to be given back. Today, she observed the three classes we taught. I'm really glad they went well because sometimes they don't, and it would not have been a good observation. But we had really good classes today--i can tell 'cause my larigintis started bothering me. I should go see a doctor. My voice goes hoarse after two class periods.

Interesting thing about tiny cafes in the middle of the jungles. By the time one finds them, one won't care that they only serve one dish. It's usually a really tasty dish, though.

On the agenda--absentee voting 2006. A few things are at stake. In Wisconsin, for example, a referendum is being voted on that would push for an amendment to the constitution banning gay marriage. Irritating.
So, if you're like me, an American living abroad, Get the info and the forms and Vote!

Been watching the 2nd season of "Lost." Finally got my hands on all 24 episodes. well actually they arrived in my mailbox in a pink envelope, thanx to Perry. I had seen up until episode 13, and am now on 18. Slowed down after watching several in 2 days to prolong the process. Intense.

Also, I highly recommend renting "The Edukators," a german film. Watch it with a few friends and then discuss it. The movie spun David, Ben and i into an hour long conversation.
Also, "Kontrol" is a cool hungarian film that takes place entirely underground in Budapest's metro system. Slightly allegorical but not heavyhanded.
Ben brought over 30 films from Indonesia--we have been slowly watching them. Some don't work on my laptop. Unfortunate.

Am reading "The History of Love" by Nicole Krause. I haven't finished it yet but want to re-read it already. That very rarely happens to me. The words in this book are making me stumble through my beliefs. They're also bringing up emotions that i don't always want to feel on a school night. Remarkable.

I feel unusual. I think we should go outside.
if you know where this quote is from, then you know exactly how i feel.


Friday, September 01, 2006

One thing i missed was all the delicious food my grandmothers can make. I got to eat all the things i like when i came back.

Shelley showing off a promising schedule of Wisconsin State Fair activities. Somehow we spent 8 hours there that day. Probably helped that we both haven't been there in years. It was quite amusing, really. And to me, a cultural shock of sorts: so many people of so many sizes and colors and attitudes. And of course the animals were nice to look at as well.

No comment.

In the Junior Cattle Area, kids resting.

my height in horses.

mom walking along side the woodfire kiln Anna and Brad built with the help of Sofya.

Anna and Sofya having delicious fun with the shishkebob.

Mom and I at a park on Lake Michigan.