Out and About

Spent the day doing nothing. Spent the evening with old friends. Because of that, this post will be only filler. (I may throw out an extra on Saturday, if I can only be bothered.)

The last time this friend was here I was working hither and thither and we couldn’t arrange a meeting. This means we haven’t seen each other for 14 years. We met a thousand years ago in the last millennium. (1999, which was in the last millennium, which was 1,000 years ago. More or less.)

A lot has changed during that time, including spouses and the number of children. She’s met our oldest but our youngest didn’t exist. Also, my hair didn’t look as gray back then because the lighting was better back then. (Yes, my hair isn’t turning white; it’s just bad lighting. No. Really. There’s bad lighting everywhere. It follows me. Something like that.)

Hopefully we won’t have to wait 14 years for the next meeting.


Farewell, But First

Anyone who thinks the Japanese are nice and polite has never seen them wait for booze.

Tonight was the farewell party for the teachers who are leaving the school where I work. This usually involves shockingly precise timing and those who arrive fashionably late miss the opening toasts and at least one course.

The toasts are important because, technically, no one can drink or eat until the toasts are made.

However, tonight, the toasts were delayed because beer arrived quickly, but the mixed drinks didn’t arrive for quite a long time. As a result, we just stared at empty glasses or slowly warming beer.

As the beer degraded, several staff members began to complain. This didn’t hurry things along as two large parties and the regular guests were being served by only three staff.

Eventually drinks arrived and toasts were made and we then enjoyed the tradition of slowly starving whilst waiting for the various courses.

A few of us were wise enough to meet before the party to have a few beers and eat some food. This meant we were more polite than many of the Japanese, which was a bit odd.

Now school is out and we won’t have to be polite again for a few weeks.

Riddance is Good With Near Profanity

I said goodbye to one of my worst classes today. I was ready to swear at them as much as they were pretending to swear at me.

One of my worst students saw his final exam score and said something that sounded like “F@#kity F@#k” but which was most likely “Huckity Huck”. It seems they think they can get away with saying “Huck” since Japan doesn’t have a proper “fu” sound. It’s more of a “hu”.

Well, at least they can get away with it today. (On a regular day I’d make them write the swear words 500 times with a promise that the next time they’d need an entire notebook to finish.)

Today, though, I couldn’t have cared less. This led a couple students to experiment with “Sit” and “City” which in Japanese pronunciation usually come out as “Sh#t” and “Sh#tty”.

The funny part is, this is the best they’ve pronounced either of these words all year so I just let them sort of swear.

In the end, I was glad to be rid of this class. This means, of course, that I’ll get a large portion of them in class next year.

Huck that sit.

Locked in Place With Red Ink and Bad English

I get up and move around every now and then, but it doesn’t help much. Oddly, my students have been helping.

I’m the last push of marking my last batch of exams. This is an easy test to mark but I hit the wall a long time ago and have been subconsciously refusing to establish a rhythm. This means I’ve been taking a lot longer than necessary. It doesn’t help that these are some of my worst classes.

However, several students have either written no long writing or have written only a few lines. This is good because it allows me to quickly mark the writing, or lack thereof, and that makes it easier to finish.

I just wish I could convince them to write nothing at all.

Once More The Wall

Even with a modest amount of exams to mark, I always find myself hitting a wall where I find I just can’t be bothered to finish. I feel as if I’ve been working hard but I don’t seem to be making much progress. Sometimes this is the fault of the exam, but mostly, I suspect, it’s my fault.

It’s a bit like those moment when you’re reading and you suddenly find you’ve been rereading the same passage for twenty minutes and still don’t have a damned clue about what it was you just read. You then spend 20 more minutes rereading and never get a damned clue.

In the case of exams, it’s mostly a lack of focus caused by constantly reading bad English through questionable handwriting. I’m convinced that constant exposure to bad English from students has a permanent effect on a teacher’s ability to use English correctly.

Eventually, I push through, and my standards either get tougher or easier. Don’t have a damned clue which it will be, though.

Partial Goodbyes at the Partial End of Business

Today I said “see you later” to groups of students I probably won’t actually see again or won’t see for a couple years except in the hallways at the school where I work. None of us were actually moved. Pretty soon I’ll remember names but won’t be able to match them to faces.

The end of the term brings a certain good-riddance feeling to even good classes. We’ve spent the better part of the year facing each other and it’s time to be done.

Complicating things is the problem that even though we are finishing some classes we are only partially done. We turned in JHS 3 marks (9th grade) today and high school marks are due Wednesday. After that we have another week of marking to do before we finish with the JHS first and second year students.

In my case, my worst classes are all either first or second year meaning I still have to deal with bad students. The dread of dealing with them one more time (and, knowing my luck, next year as well) has me more glum than I should be at the end of the year. This is especially true as there’s only a few weeks between “see-you-later” and “later”.

That Which is Important to Them is Not You

This week all the classes I taught were review classes. One student refused to review my class. Others understood a pun that almost got them bonus points.

Depending on the class, I’ll let the students study any subject for the last 20 or 25 minutes of the lesson. I usually give them material to work on for the first part of the class and in case they neglected to bring anything else to study.

One student, though, refused to even take out a pencil when he had the material for my class. He kept complaining that he wanted free study and I kept saying no. I also postponed the free study time for an extra five minutes.

Eventually I let the students study whatever they wanted an the the student who didn’t study started to study.

In my worst class, when it was free study time, four students just stood in the center of the room chatting and playing air sports. When I asked them what they were studying they said “Social studies”.

I said “I see. So you’re talking and being social.” They seemed to get that and then sat down and didn’t do any work.

Because they at least seemed to get the joke I almost gave them bonus points. Except that they didn’t actually do anything so I couldn’t.

Back in Being Almost Finished With Business

Two studied. A few pretended to study. The rest weren’t even aware they were supposed to be doing something. I didn’t care either way.

This is a strange week and it makes it hard for me to care very much.

A few classes still have class. A few classes have been moved and have class at a different time. A few others are not having class at all. At the same time I’m marking final exams but the constant on-again/off-again nature of the week, and the small number of exams currently in hand, makes it easy to put off dealing with them.

At the same time, if I have one or two classes in a day, I don’t really care what happens as long as blood or protruding bones aren’t involved. (i.e. As long as I don’t end up having to do any paperwork and/or interviews). If the students don’t want to study for their final exams, it’s not actually my problem. In fact, anything that increases the chances of them passing in a blank exam is good as that makes my job easier.

Eventually, I’ll be passing back completed exams on the same day I’m collecting exams for the classes I’m still teaching. At least then I’ll have large blocks of time available and will be able to get into a marking rhythm.

I still wont’ care, but at least I’ll get through things faster.


Crazy Japan Times Mere Blather Invasion: Winter Olympics 2018 End of All That Edition

The Olympics ended with a few pleasant surprises and no small amount of Canadian tears.

USA winning gold medal in Men’s Curling: A

Number of Americans who care: >100

Number of Canadians who care: Many Many Many

Number of depressed Canadians: Many Many Many

Odds that Canadian Prime Minister Socksy Dancer will have to resign: Strong

Canadian losing to Germany in Men’s Hockey: F (For Canadians); Who cares? (For everyone else.)

Canada winning bronze: D- (for Canadians); Who cares? (For everyone else.)

Canadian team questioning goal and calling for video replay: F

Canadian announcer questioning Canadian teams questioning of goal: push

Video replay in hockey: F for WTF?

Odds of Canadian Government investigation into team selection process: High

Odds Canadian Prime Minister Socksy Dancer will be beheaded: push

Japan’s women making Curling final four: A

Japan winning bronze: A

Great Britain going for win only to lose: push

Yoshida Chinami: A

Takagi Nana’s gold in speed skating: A

Japan getting 13 medals (which is more than Nagano total): A


Closing Ceremony
Score: Automatic F

US uniforms: B+

Japan’s uniforms: B (the blue and gray hats and scarves were odd but looked good with red coat).

Thirteen year old guitar player: A-

Electric bungee TRON boys: F for WTF?

Drone formations: B+

Drone swarms: C

Forgetting lessons of the The Terminator: F

The Terminator: A

Every Terminator movie after The Terminator: F

Linda Hamilton in The Terminator: A

Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2: Judgement Day: A-

K-Pop: B

Endless K-Pop in closing ceremony: F

Image Mapping: A

On shadow dancers: A

Dancing in the shadows: A

“Shadow Dancing”: C

All this and nothing more: F

’70s references: F

Of songs you didn’t even like: F

Confusing “Shadow Dancing” with “Slow Dancing”: F

Johnny Rivers: B

Andy Gibb: B-

Dying young: F

Speeches: Automatic F.

That’s all for now. The next Olympics, in 2020, will be in Tokyo which will add a level of intensity to the proceedings.

Until then, take care and have fun.


Crazy Japan Times Mere Blather Invasion: Winter Olympics 2018 Scandalous Edition

The short hiatus is over and that means it’s time to deal with a few Olympic Scandals.

Katie Couric’s comments on people in the Netherlands skating to work: F

Katie Couric opening mouth to speak: F

Japan winning gold medal in Pursuit: A

Japan exceeding Nagano medal tally: A

South Korean pursuit skaters bullying teammate during and after race: F

South Korean’s bullying Canadian skater: F

Bullying Canadians: D-

Canadian Bullies: N/A (Except when they are talking about USA or to someone from USA, then D for Don’t care because it’s Canadians.)

Canada’s Ski-Cross lumberjack uniforms: A- (A+ if they’d been worn during opening ceremony.)

Being a lumberjack and being okay: A

Cliches: F

US Speed Skating’s scandalous and offensive naughty bits uniforms: D- (would love to hear the designers explain that design)

USA women defeating Canadian women for hockey gold: A

The match ending with a shootout: C+

Winning the shootout: A

Canadian Depression level after loss: C+

Canadian goalie ripping off silver medal: F

Drinking Canadian tears: B+

Odds that a big chunk of US team was actually from Canada: push

US men being eliminated from medal contention in hockey: D (for Don’t care because USA isn’t playing so sport is irrelevant.)

US men defeating Canadian men in Curling: A

USA being guaranteed highest finish ever in Curling: A

Canadian men missing out on chance at even a bronze medal: F (in Canada) D for Don’t Care (rest of world).

Odds that Canadian men’s team will be forced to settle outside of Canada: high

Odds of a national investigation into loss: high

The fact your humble editor actually watched hockey: push