Sunday, July 22, 2007

i have a new camera!!
i've been considering getting a new one for a few months now. i love my trusty Minolta but it's 3 years old now and pales in comparison to what is out there on the market. i of course can't afford anything super fancy, nor do i want 'cause i wouldn't know what to do with it. photography has never been my strong point. Unlike my sister, Sofya who in my eyes is an expert, i just point and snap. Sometimes i get lucky and the compositions turn out to be worthy of printing and displaying. i've taken some great shots with the minolta, and i hope i can continue with my new Canon PowerShot A710IS.
It's a bit heavy but seems sturdy. i don't know what all it can do, have to search for manual on-line as i only got the japanese one. but i can change the language to english or russian if i want to, which is cool.

so here are a couple of shots i took today driving back home. they're not great, and the second one has been edited, but am sure more good ones are to come.

also this weekend Block1 hosted a successful goodbye party for the northern JETs and their friends. it was wonderful to have everyone in one place. the weather was fantastic and the bbq went off splenditly. in the late hours of the night we enjoyed watching african dancing and drumming and some fire twirling on a beach. good times.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

the end of school term is in the air. we are done. we are finished. we have one more day! arrrrgh.
to be fair, i don't have one more day. i am done today. i'm not coming to school tomorrow because i'm going to the airport to bid farewell to Gabrielle. She's leaving the island after five years on JET, and i am sad to see her go. really sad. but such is JET experience--friendships are made quickly and then one has to say "goodbye" until next meeting. because i don't believe i won't see Gabrielle or any of my other close friends again. i'll visit them or we'll meet up elsewhere in the world.

Saying all this doesn't make the prospect of separation that much easier to face.

i have a new keitai. it's a Motorolla Razr. i heard that in the States it's considered pretty cool, or maybe that was a year ago. I got it 'cause it was the 2nd cheapest option for me at the shop. The cheapest phone would have been nearly free but didn't have a camera but did have a radio. i declined.

the typhoon was actually a big hit. It canceled school on Friday and we ended up with a 4 day weekend, the first part of which was spent mostly indoors.
Before typhoon hit us, I picked Ben up Thursday night and it was already apparent then that his coast would get hit harder than mine. Whereas on my side the sea was still peaceful, on his side it was already throwing sand and debris onto the road across barriers.
Saturday, Ben and i went to check out the damage on his, eastern, coast.
The damage was minimal compared to other places on the island but there was lots of sand and roads were blocked off for clean-up. The kids had a blast, though, playing around on large sand piles pushed off the road by bulldozers. The houses along the road in Kawatta collected sand inside and out and we saw people spraying them down with water and sweeping sand off tatami. The kids told us that 4 cars that were in a parking lot across the road got pushed into each other by the waves and the wind, and one was even lifted up and crushed down onto a nearby tree. When we went to look, the cars were already gone, but we did see the broken tree.

Across the island people lost power. I was lucky that and Ben, Gabrielle and I only went without aircon for 5 minutes. We watched movies, and Tv shows, and cooked delicious food, drank chu-his and played boardgames. For being the first truly typhoon party, it was a success!!

i download the free NPR shuffle podcast and it's great. i love the variety and the unexpected turn the collection sometimes takes. i also like NPR's fresh air, although sometimes Terry Gross' questions strike me as overly simplistic, she feeds the answer to her quests through her questions. but not all the time.
anyways. i recently listened to a Fresh Air podcast about Victor Bout, the infamous arms dealer. His story is amazing--it's bewildering to think how many conflicts, genocides, revolutions, rebellions, etc.. he has helped supply with firearms. He has no identifiable ideology and the most fantastic of all is that his planes have flown arms and essential supplies for the UN and United States, most recently into and out of Iraq. The two men Terry spoke with, Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun, have written a book about him called Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible. They spoke casually about their subject and every once in a while even laughed about the ways he has built his far-reaching business. At first, i was appalled by their seeming lighthearted approach towards the topic, but then i started laughing with them. This is the age we live in--and it's amusing to say the least. Here's one man who has found a niche and in the best example of capitalistic entrepreneurship has built himself an empire by selling weapons. But not only has he not be caught and stopped, his planes have been used by various "anti-terrorist" governments, most prominently the United States, to advance their ends in conflicts around the world. And that's how the world spins round. Ya gotta laugh.

and i'm awaiting the delivery of the new Harry Potter book. Should be coming to my door Saturday or Monday. Yipee!


an ode to keitai

to my trusty friend
who's always been
the one to ring
when times are dim

whose music tones
were cool and new
whose swishing sound
made all want you

with clear alarm
you woke me up
with blinking light
you've kept me up

without you life won't be same
you've been replaced, your numbers saved
but as my first keitai you stand
forever flipping in my hand.

well... i guess you can deduce from the poorly written lines that my cell phone has been damaged beyond repair and replaced by a brand new shiny model.
what happened? well. if you must know.
a dog ate it.
nah. actually it was a pair of wild geckos.
nope. also not true.
David put it in his mouth and it stopped working.
yep. that sounds plausible enough. but also not exactly correct.
i'm a bit of a klutz and i let it fall out of my bag next to my car and drove over it? do you believe that? you do? well. good for you, 'cause that's the sad truth. and only a month shy of a 2 year anniversary. *sigh*

in other news. a typhoon Man-Yi is on his way to Okinawa mainland. Don't be alarmed, it's only projected to be a trocal storm strength, but there's a possibility of Category 1 winds. Which means school might be canceled, but i won't hold my breath, since in two years here a typhoon hasn't yet managed to affect school schedule.

i've put the link to Tropical Storm Risk website back up, so you're welcome to track typhoon's progress yourselves. Enjoy!


1. My students did not place in the story contest. They did a good job. One of them was the best out of the 10 students that performed before her. I am very proud of them and the work they've put in. It was a fun contest, though. In the second half the competition picked up and the best stories were performed. Ben's student and Rodger's student both placed, getting first and second respectively. Rodger's kid's performance made me laugh so hard, I cried. It's odd however, being in an audience of 40 but being one of a handful who actually understands what is being said at the podium.

2. my car's airconditioner has been fixed! yipee. it didn't cost me a grand, but half of that, which is still no small amount, but the pleasure of driving and not sweating should not be underestimated. next step, do something about the CD player thing.

3. it is so so so hot now that it's harder to think in the classroom. seriously. i get all sort of ideas while sitting in the air conditioned teacher office but in the classroom the response time is slowed down to a mere crawl. ha ha
kidding. but it is hot and i do wish we had aircons in every classroom because the last 3 weeks before summer vacation are torture here. がんばりましょう、ね!

4. 4th of July has no bearing whatsover on our life in Japan. Except that a bunch of US ALTs got invited to a celebration of the 231st anniversary of American independence tonight at the consulate office in Naha. I was gonna go, but now am thinking not. Still might change my mind. have 4 hours.

5. My sister is the coolest for hanging out at the same bar in New York as Drew Barrymore and Zach Braff. No. Not at the same time. ;)