Friday, February 29, 2008

They actually cared. Who knew?

1171379829882 Today was my last day with the 3rd year students. I guess because of all their 'hard work' they get to finish their classes three weeks earlier than the other students. This creates an unusual air in the classroom because I know they are already in another high school as far as they're concerned.
My last class for my good classes was a mix of listening review and word games. Nothing particularly interesting or exciting for a final class. I was kind of caught off guard when I found out it was the last class with them. I was expecting to have another week where I could give out the remainder of my prizes and stuff. I hope I didn't come off as cold or uncaring to the students. Oh well, they seemed happy enough when I dropped my lesson half way through and went into game mode to appease them.
The class I was least excited to close up with was 3-2. I've had a problem connecting with them the whole semester. It's really been a hit or miss class. There isn't any way to tell if they're willing cooperate or not. Some days they'd be on the ball but more ofthen than not they'll be in another zone or in zombie mode at their desks. Today was different though, being the thought ful teacher I am, I let them break up three decks of UNO cards and play till the end of class. About eight students circled around me and we talked one on one in Japanese and English. Students I thought could care less about English or me, came up to me and said they regretted not having an opportunity like today to talk to me one on one. It was truley shocking how many came up willing to talk!
All in all, class 3-2 actually enjoyed having me in their room but they just didn't show it till the last possible moment. I got to know a lot about some of the students that came to talk to me. Many students that did talk to me were fairly good at speaking English although they didn't have very much confidence in doing so. Being able to speak Japanese really helped a lot to break the ice between them. I'm glad my Japanese Bachelor's degree is getting some practical use.
So today was a pretty neat day. The class I dreaded the most turned out to be not so bad after all. It's kind of a shame they will all move on to other schools where their English experience may or may not be so interesting to them. I can't say I am a great English teacher but at least I know I make their class comfortable enough to enjoy it.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Science Rules!

billnye4 Stuff like this gets me all riled up and giddy like a school girl. Today the US military put some of it's superior missile tech to use for once and successfully shot down a derelict spy satellite carrying toxic fuel. The missile was launched from the USS Erie while I was napping after work today. It's nice to know we can still blow stuff up  moving thousands of miles per hour in orbit of our planet.

At least the Chinese won't be able to harvest the scrap from the spy satellite like they probably were hoping to do... So whether it was to protect sensitive military data or just a show of how well trained our sailors are, it doesn't matter. It's over and done with and we can all rest safer now that one potentially hazardous thing in orbit has been neutralized. Yeehaw!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I can cook now!

snoopy-heart Happy Valentine's Day! Today was Valentines Day in Japan and I got more things than I expected I would. Usually I don't get anything for Valentines besides maybe a card from my Grandma or my Mom. Today I got a mystery white chocolate cookie, truffles from the 3rd year English teacher, and my girlfriend bought me a Hello Kitty Valentine cookie/brownie box set.
All in all it was a successful Valentines. I wasn't expecting anything from the 3rd year English teacher but I was expecting something from the DSC00005cute 2nd year teacher which I got absolutely nothing from besides a hello. The 3rd year teacher was also surprised that the 2nd year didn't give me anything. Maybe I'll get something from her tomorrow but I'm not holding my breath. Also, my girlfriend will be relieved that no students gave me valentines this year which was also a little let down for me. I thought I'd get something, oh well.
DSC00004 For the past week I've been stoveless and microwaveless. A new stove was installed the night before. I got to test it out with my first batch of spaghetti. It really gets hot fast and cooks things evenly and reliably compared to the old piece of junk I had before. I'm glad the old stove broke. Maybe my microwave will be replaced by an equally good microwave.
The school year is winding down and the 3rd years are noticeably restless. 18 more days till they graduate and move on and out of my life. I will miss most of them except for 85 percent of class 3-2 (I never connected with them.) I wonder if the school year is going to end sooner for me than is planned by my company. If that's the case, it would be great to have an extra few more days to relax between school semesters.
Tonight I'll take Yuko out to dinner for Valentine's Day. I bought us a strawberry ice cream cake. Hopefully she'll enjoy it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Friggin' cold but comfortable

Despite unscientific claims of global warming these days, it has been unusually cold in Japan this year. It has snowed four times this winter and it's supposed to snow even more in my city which is unheard of. It snowed all day the day before so I thought today might be ruined by bad weather but the exact opposite happened, it was clear and sunny all day long.
DSC00014This week has been pretty cold due to it snowing twice in less than three days. I am only cold when I am walking in the hallways of my school or changing shoes. My apartment is very warm and energy efficient so  I have been able to live quite comfortably despite the harsh weather. The only bad thing that happened this week is that my microwave died and my electric stove is starting to crap out. My property manager is supposed to come this week and repair the stove and replace the microwave, hopefully free of charge.
DSC00009 I celebrated Setsubun with Yuko on Sunday. It is a Japanese festival where you drive out bad sprits from the home and invite good ones in by throwing beans at a person acting as the resident demon(me). In the picture above you can see the mask she made for me. I now have it hanging in my room as a decoration. It was really fun to play the part of the demon and Yuko enjoyed throwing beans at me.
DSC00021 I've been wanting to visit Disney Sea for a while with Yuko and I finally got a chance last week. One of Yuko's sister's friends didn't want their tickets so we got them at a reduced price of 4000 yen each and a free round trip bus ride courtesy of Yuka's Uncle. Without these savings I doubt I would have been so interested in going to Disney Sea for full price.
 DSC00090 Disney Sea is like California Disney, in which it is a separate park adjacent to Disneyland, but that's about all it has in common. It was a pretty nice place but I prefer Disneyland more. I just prefer the classics like Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean.
This Thursday is Valentine's Day and I am really curious if any of my students will give me a Valentine's present. Probably not, but I have presents for them in the form of a special Valentine's lesson and Charlie Brown video. It will be a pretty relaxed week at school and I'm looking forward to closing out this school year with DSC00084them on a good note. Hopefully the new 1st years that come at the end of next month will be just as good as my current 1st and 2nd years.
That's it for this entry. The only other news is that my mother has set plans to visit me for a little more than a week at the end of March. It will be nice to have her visit, hopefully she'll enjoy Japan despite all of its cultural differences and exotic cuisine.