Saturday, October 30, 2004

Statistical Insignificance

Is anyone else getting really, really tired of reading headlines like, "Kerry Leads Bush by 1 Point," "Bush Leads by 2 Points"?

They're TIED! Okay? Claiming otherwise at this point is like saying, "In yesterday's typhoon, 4.5cm of rain fell on the east side of Route 314, while 4.4cm fell on the west side."

I'll come up with something more worth writing sometime later.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

No Outsiders Allowed

I am writing this post from my apartment.
This can mean only one thing.

That's right: the neighbors got a wireless router, and I'm stealing their bandwidth.

No, of course not. Most people in this tiny town don't have internet access, let alone require a wireless router. I'M FINALLY JACKED IN!

*cough*cough* I'm better now.

In other news, shortly after I signed on to Instant Messenger, striatic brought these two websites to my attention:
Commentary on the above

It's true: I can't view the site. Below is a screenshot of what I see when I try to.

You'll have to take my word for it that I didn't manipulate the screenshot in any way. I wouldn't have wanted to; I'm not antiBush. But this, I find puzzling. I can't imagine they would have done this without good reason, but I'm at a loss to suggest any good reasons.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fruit Roll-Ups

If you want to create a small commotion in your teachers' room, bring in a bunch of Fruit Roll-Ups to share. Especially the kind that have the tongue tattoos, where you press the roll-up to your tongue for a few seconds, and the ink from the design temporarily stains your tongue.

Oh. My. Lord. This is hilarious.


Blogging Your Novel

I didn't hear about NaNoWriMo until last December, when it was too late to participate for 2003. But even though it was a long way off, I wanted to participate the following year. Wouldn't it be cool if I wrote a book while I was in Japan? I thought, still doubting that I would ever be accepted into the JET Program.

So here I am, in Japan, and one week before the start of NaNoWriMo.
I'm so gonna do it.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


(Yet Another Pre-Dated Post)

Woo! Day off! It didn't come without a price, though: I had to use one day's nenkyu (personal holiday) to wait out the swiftly approaching typhoon in my apartment, rather than in the teacher's room at Nita JHS. The students get the day off, but the teachers still have to report for work, since, I guess, the typhoon won't be hitting Shimane until late this afternoon. It would have been boring, boring, boring with nothing constructive to do, precious little with which to amuse myself, and no nearby JTE to pester (Tane-sensei is attending a conference in Matsue all this week). At home at least I can do some laundry, maybe start cleaning my apartment, and play Civ III. And write this entry.

Yesterday my kids had exams all morning, and then went home after noon. We teachers were able to leave after 3:30pm. I spent at least an hour on The Flying Pig, and ordered a bunch of stuff (Mom, forget about the graham crackers, if it's not too late). I also graded some poems the students had written. Poems are difficult to grade, because some of the broken English is really quite poetic. The rules for the poems were that they should be five lines long, and the number of words in each line was to be 1/2/3/4/1 respectively, with the third line containing three descriptive words on the topic, and the fourth line being a short sentence.

Take this one, for example:
Wide sea
How far continue
See top sky blue

While not all of the students stuck to the 1/2/3/4/1 pattern, this one clearly intended to, and I didn't know 1) what the student intended to communicate in the fourth line, and 2) how to constrain a proper translation to four words. So I left it as it was, and gave the student an A. All of the students got A's, because all of the poems were complete; sometimes I receive partially completed assignments, and really those are the only ones that get less than an A from me. I correct mistakes, but as long as the students clearly make an effort, and didn't just slack off, they get full credit.

Most of the poems were about the sea, the sky, the night. Some were about sports, a few were about friends. A good quarter of them ended with "Wonderful." But a handful stuck out.

This poem cracked me up:
small beans.
beans. beans. beans.
beans is very delicious

I almost gave this one a lower grade for using the same word six times (more than half the poem), but I figured maybe this student was trying for the humor angle. And it made me laugh out loud. So an A it received.

The only war-themed poem:
Sad face
Crying sad injure
Bring the war to an end

Again, with this one, I didn't mind that the fourth line had two extra words. It's an excellent sentence (I'm guessing this student copied it out of something, but it's used correctly, which doesn't always happen), and, except to follow the rules which clearly weren't important to Tane nor myself, there was no reason to shorten it.

The last one amused me as much as the beans poem:
Hell life
dead or alive
But I love kendo

This one also almost received a low grade from me, because two students had submitted identical poems (with the same cursive handwriting--one of them had literally traced over the poem written by the other). But when I showed them to Tane-sensei, she said, "Ah, yes, they wrote it together." Well, if she was okay with it, how could I not be? She told me it's a "secret" because they don't want their kendo coach (who sits across from Tane) to find out that they described the sport as "hell life." I can't blame them—he's a pretty tough-looking guy. So mum's the word, okay?

Monday, October 18, 2004

Good news, less-than-good news

Good news: As of this month, YahooBB finally serves Nita-cho! Mr. Internet stopped by the Nita BoE this afternoon, and we went over to his office to fill out the forms online.

Less-than-good news: They're slower than winter molasses to get it running. It will take 28 days. I'm supposed to get another form in the mail, fill it out, and return it, after which time I will be sent a modem, and presumably my internet connection will be activated. But I don't know if it will be 28 days until I get the Something in the Mail, or 28 days until the action starts.

But YahooBB was the ISP I'd wanted even before I arrived in Japan, if only because their internet phone service allows me to place 3 yen/minute phone calls to the US.

Right now, I'm high as a kite (in a purely psychological, non-medicinal way).

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Something about being in Japan has made me a bit bipolar.

That's probably not the best way to explain it.
I'll try again:

The briefest friendly exchange makes me glow all over.

The smallest frustrations are huge.

Every feeling is intensified, and subject to change at a moment's notice.

I know I'm not the only one who feels this way; I've talked to other new JETs about it as well. Just knowing that is comforting.

Monday, I found Ziploc leftover containers at the local supermarket. I soared.

I also attempted five times, and failed five times, to send the same e-mail to my mother, only to receive notice, one hour later, that the message couldn't be delivered. That was a small disappointment.

After trying two more times in the last two days, I decided today that I would give her a call from my cell phone after lunch. I wasn't exactly loving today's menu, but I finished eating as quickly as I could so I would have a few more minutes to talk to Mom. Stealing out into the hallway, I dialed the number, but I got a recorded message in Japanese. After a few moments, the English translation began: I couldn't place an international call because my phone wasn't registered with KDDI for international calls.

The hell it wasn't: I signed up for a special international plan when I bought the phone, for the express purpose of making discounted calls to the US. So I dialed the number given in the recorded message, to talk to someone live. I got past the operator with my mad Japanese skillz: "Sumimasen... gomen nasai... eigo?" ("Excuse me... I'm sorry... English?") She transfered me to an English-speaking operator with an Indian accent. I explained the situation, and she put me on hold for several seconds. Returning, she said I should be able to place international calls starting tomorrow.

I have to wait a flickin' day to talk to my own mother?! My feelings are completely disproportionate to the situation.

Even two hours later, thinking about it still makes me upset. But I'm at school, so I won't get upset. I can't get upset; they'd think I was a total loon.

So Mom,
if you're reading this,
call me.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

keitai fever

A somewhat old, but interesting, article on keitai usage in Japan:

In Japan, a Wireless Vision of Future for U.S.

I stumbled upon it while trying to find English-language websites that my keitai browser can view properly. So far, I've just been reading a lot of And of course, enjoying Flickr's lovely lovely keitai-friendly site.

Any more suggestions?