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Dead Blog Walking!

2010 October 3

Obviously I am having some difficulty updating this thing. Perhaps there will be a format change in the near future.

At any rate, I paid for another year of Flickr, and I will continue to occasionally dump massive amounts of photos over there. Keep an eye on that! Twitter also will remain more or less active.

Guess what I did this weekend? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... on Twitpic

This weekend I actually did something interesting.
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Birthday Vloggin’

2010 July 21

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaupdate!

2010 May 3

I am on my knees with shame for not having updated for more than a month now, especially since it was Spring Break and I had so much downtime. I am slowly plugging away at a massive text file, but in the meantime, have the interesting part: my photos! There are actually notes on all of them this time, so hopefully it won’t be too hard to follow.

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A friend of mine chose to spend his spring break with me in my corner of Japan. Check out the albums Chris in Hamada and Chris in Hiroshima to see what we got up to. The Hamada stuff is particularly interesting, as we visited several incredible temples, including one that dates from 1382.

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The beginning of April brought cherry blossoms and spring festivals. We experienced lots of both when the Shimane ALTs converged in Matsue for a training seminar that happened to coincide with the Matsue Castle parade, and then we visited a cherry blossom festival in nearby Kisuki. Check out this album for both!

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I did my own special cherry blossom viewing at a shrine I’d always wanted to visit, just off the highway out of Hamada city but hidden behind a lumbermill. My very unprofessional photos are here.

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ALTs met up again for the famous Yabusame (horseback archery) tournament in Tsuwano, known as the “Little Kyoto” of western Japan. My fellow roadtrippers and I visited this enormous Inari shrine along the way. My photos and video of the archery itself aren’t up yet due to being located on a separate camera, but when I remember to download them, they’ll be with the rest of the day’s photos here.

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Two weekends ago, Hamada had its own castle parade and spring festival, the 浜っ子祭 (Hamakko Matsuri, Hama-children festival). The parade was full of preschool and school children as well as elderly folk dance groups, kagura monsters, and City Hall employees. Next year I’ll apply early to ensure I can participate. For now, you’ll have to settle for my sideline photos here.

Phew! There’s my giant photodump. Except, this week is the wonderful convergence of public holidays known as Golden Week, and tomorrow I’m headed to Hiroshima… this time is a shopping holiday, but I’m sure I’ll emerge with interesting photos all the same. And like I said, I’ll try to provide blocks of text for each of these events (plus a few I don’t have massive photo albums for) later on. For now, enjoy these albums while I enjoy my vacation!

Annoying Status Update

2010 March 21

Family has been complaining about a lack of blog posts 😉 so today I threw up some things that I had typed up in the past couple weeks during downtime at school. The weeks leading up to graduation were a little stressful, and I had a lot I wanted to get out.

It’s Spring Break at the moment, so I have plenty of downtime to get myself back together and prepared for the new school year. Or I will, rather; I’m in the midst of a 10-day visit from a hometown friend of mine, and after he leaves Hamada is looking forward to two new private company ALTs arriving next weekend. Hopefully everything will go smoothly, but just in case…

Anyway, expect sporadic batches of photos on Flickr, and I’ll try to do posts summarizing the adventures once I get back to regular office hours next week. Maybe a little more on the Twitter in the meantime, if I can remember to. 🙂

Driving in Japan

2010 March 11

or, Why James Bond Launched His Speedboat Car Off a Ramp in That One Movie

Having signed on for another year here, I’m preparing to take the test to obtain a Japanese driver’s license. The test consists of (from what I hear) a confusing ten-question paper test in English, a long interview about your license test in your home country, and then – for those of us from right-hand driving countries – a course driving test.

All of this sounds scary and challenging, but it also sounds nothing like the actual driving I’ve been doing here for the past year.

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2010 March 10

Finished another two schools with today’s joint class. Eight of twelve students in the combined fifth and sixth grade are moving on to middle school. They are awesome kids; I am loathe to give them up. Treat them well, middle school ALT!

In honor of the occasion, I made certificates, which the teachers filled out while I finished up running the board game that I spent so long with the laminator to make. I hope the kids are really proud of them even if (especially because) they can’t read them. (I didn’t get to point out to the teachers which certificates were for which schools, so some may have gotten switched. Oh well, it’s one word… I hope they don’t spot it…) In exchange, I got a hand-made card from each of the sixth graders, and from two of the fifth graders. I got pop-up cards from the fourth graders too. This on top of getting books full of thank you notes from yesterday’s two sixth grade classes, a memory board from Friday’s school… I think I need a memory box of some sort to store all this stuff. It’s amazing. 🙂

I am really excited about the kids who, next month, become fifth and sixth graders. Although, it sounds like we won’t be doing a combined class anymore, so I won’t be able to rely on the rising fifth grade boys to improve the maturity of the rising sixth grade boys. Damn!

I’m staring at a foot of snow piled up on the structure just outside the window. Hopefully I can get my car out of here when the time comes; I almost couldn’t park today due to a particularly bad clump within a snow drift. I’m super tired, but at least keeping out of sitting around the house is forcibly improving my mood. 🙂 I had a good time at calligraphy last night, and I’ve had a great couple days at school. Tomorrow’s schools will be good too; I’m going to surprise them (teachers and students) with the certificates. Tonight I have to undertake some major cleaning though. My house is awful, and it has to be extra-livable for the company that’s coming Saturday night!

Later:
Found out on my way out of school that one of my favorite teachers is leaving. 😦 It’s strange; he’s a young guy, and I had thought this was his first year teaching, at least at this school, but people don’t get rotated until they’ve been in one place for a few years. It’s a shame because his inexperience put us on a slightly more even footing, and he gave me the most freedom and responsibility in terms of lesson planning and material preparation. He’s moving to another town within the prefecture, so maybe we’ll meet again, but I hope our collaboration gives him more confidence in teaching fun and interesting English lessons. Having the materials I made for lessons with him has allowed me to show other teachers that my creativity is a good supplement to the regular textbook activities. Maybe some of them will be inspired to ask me for more materials!

2010 March 5

I came in today expecting the worst. I got no schedule whatsoever last night; when I came in and saw the schedule this morning, I still had no idea what I was teaching in any of the four classes. Luckily, a miracle happened or something, and everything went awesome. Maybe the threat of this being my last class at this school put everyone – teachers and students alike – in a kind mood. Either way, I’m exhausted from all the love and fun on a day I was expecting to have to power through. Also I taught the fifth-grade girls Duck Duck Goose, and my legs were already in a bad way. Now I’m dead tired and very happy. Can I go home and sleep yet?