Oddly Different and Oddly Silly

Today I had the chance to experiment on my students.

One of the things, after all these years of teaching, that I still have a hard time grasping is the way a lesson will work with one class and fail spectacularly with another. What typically happens, is the first class goes poorly as I work out the bugs and the second goes well.

It didn’t quite work out that way today.

My classes today both were junior high school first year classes and because of holidays, exams and sports tournaments, both had an extra day that I had to fill. Because of this I decided to try an activity where I gave them a scrambled conversation and then let them race to see who could put it in the correct order. They could work together, but couldn’t use their books or past worksheets.

My first class, which features my worst student, did surprisingly well. Three students finished and two others made a valiant effort. My worst student didn’t finish but he did write down the answers when I ended the race. He also participated in pair work during the extra time I had at the end.

My second class, though, did a lot worse. Only one student finished and several others decided that because they didn’t understand they deserved free time. I read the answer three times and then told them to pair up and practice the conversation.

However, only a few of them had bothered to write down the answers. Some hadn’t written anything at all. Others seem to think my English pronunciation is silly as they mocked my English whilst not actually transcribing what I was saying.

This means that the conversation will be featured in at least one of next week’s review classes.

Taunted Back by Sports

As promised, I taunted my junior high school students today.

First, I wore black and gray, and during the usual opening greetings, after the students say “I’m fine, and you?” I said that I was not happy. I explained that I wasn’t happy because I was at school. I was at school because they were bad at sports.

This actually went over pretty well, although the first year students pointed out that they were technically only ¬†cheerleaders at that point. I said they didn’t cheer well enough to inspire the teams.

The joke, of course, was played on me when I got to my final class of the day. Five of fifteen students were absent. If that ratio had held in every class I wouldn’t have had junior high classes. (Note: I still had high school classes.) It left me secretly crying “why? why? why?” inside my heart. (Note: I’ve had the same reaction after relationships ended abruptly.)

The final joke, though, was that most of the students who were absent were good students and I was left with the worst. I guess that’s what I get for taunting my students. It made the black and gray seem more appropriate though.

The Failures of Youth

I have a full day of work tomorrow, and it kind of has me annoyed.

This week is sports tournament week for junior high school students at the school where I work. This means that enough students are absent for regular classes to be cancelled. I still have high school classes, but my work load is reduced. Sort of.

Monday and Tuesday were sure things: most of the students were gone and regular classes went with them.

Inexplicably, Wednesday (today) was a regular day.

The only question was Tomorrow (Thursday). If the majority of the teams do well, classes will be cancelled. If they suck, we have class.

They sucked. We have class. Actually, a hundred students or so will be gone, but that’s not enough to cancel regular classes.

Luckily we had enough notice that I was able to prepare some things for tomorrow.

However, it adds complications to ink sales and my plans to carry boxes to the post office.

The most important thing, though, is that I will taunt the students a bit by telling them that the only reason we are having class is they suck at sports. I’ll then threaten them with push-ups to get them in shape for next year.


Once Again, They Who Do Not Know

My students were better, but some things got worse. That’s a normal June.

Despite my worries, several of the groups in the class I was worried about stepped up and got most of their work done. The other class was in better shape and I’m not worried about them at all. Which kind of worries me. (That’s another symptom of June…)

The final symptom was a text from a fairly new guy at the company I work for telling me he wants to do observations next week.

This is problematic for a lot of reasons. 1) The head of the English department doesn’t want observers. 2) It’s the final week of classes. 3) Because it’s the final week of classes, almost every class will be doing either final projects or final reviews.

If he wants to see me teaching, next week is the worse possible week. Also, he won’t actually be allowed in the office because we’ll be working on final exams and the school where I work is rather paranoid about such things.

In the past we’d managed to break the office staff of coming in June. This involved pleading and then swearing if pleading failed. (That’s no joke. My greeting to my immediate supervisors, who showed up unannounced, on the last day of classes no less, was “what the hell are you guys doing here?”)

The person who sent the text, though, seems reasonable and all of this may be put off until the autumn. If not, I may have to start swearing.

The Blank Harbingers of Doom

It is final project time at the school where I work, at least among the high school second year students, and several blank papers may spell doom for several of my students.

I’ve talked about the final project before, but what makes it hard for the students is they generally aren’t keen on anything involving imagination and they have too much time and too many people working on the project. This creates a lot of down time for all but the most dedicated students and gives them a false sense that there’s plenty of time. I also suspect they think I won’t fail them.

Whatever their logic, this is the third day they’ve worked on the project and they should all have something resembling a script so that they can start the artwork/visual aid part of the project.

However, a third of the groups had nothing written at all and they reacted to my warnings in different ways. One was writing in Japanese whilst one student sketched something and the third pretended to be doing research on his phone. In another group two students stared at pieces of paper whilst the third had a chat with a different group. I surprised them all by saying I was glad to see they were finished and it was time to do the final performance.

Note: my rule is that if you are talking to someone who is not in your group you are announcing you are finished and ready to do the final project. 

They now have one more day of prep and practice before the final filming next Monday. I feel a great many of them are doomed and that a lot of low scores are about to be earned.


Necessary But Not as Planned

Today’s plans were much different than what happened, but what happened was necessary.

The plan was to sort the posts from this bit of blather into something resembling a book and then to work on the final exam for high school second year students.

Instead, because, well, because, I ended up organizing and reorganizing emergency kits and even managed to assemble a get-home bag to take to the school where I work. This started because I’ve been wanting to do this for some time and because I had a bag tucked away in a drawer and I suddenly decided to dig it out of its storage place. That’s when plans changed.

Once the bag was out of the drawer it started a cascade of cleaning and organizing. The bag had stuff in it, but a lot of it was old and needed to be updated. This is the good news, as it means that six years after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami it hasn’t been needed.

Of course, a lot of it was crap, too. A shocking amount of it fell under the “at the time seemed like a good idea” concept. Also, the bag had originally been organized as a “get home from Tokyo during a disaster” bag and that meant it had a lot of fire-making and cooking related items that I most likely won’t need to walk home the seven miles from work.

Instead, I decided to turn it into a large first aid kit with a few emergency items, including flashlights, water, and multi-tools.

This required lots more extra work than I thought it would and led to me reassembling first aid kits for other bags. It also led to a couple trips to the internet to order replacements for things.

Somewhere in there I sharpened a couple knives and figured out in which order I’m going to eat the outdated emergency food.


Mostly Prep for Another Day

This was one of those days where I did parts of several projects but didn’t actually finish anything. This means I have a head start on lots of stuff.

I took pictures of a notebook, then cut up that notebook and passed the remainder to our youngest. However, I couldn’t be bothered to write the review.

I also tossed out brochures from last year’s ISOT. They formed the bottom layer of a pile that got slowly chipped away and eliminated today. I still have the pens and random souvenirs, but the next ISOT is in three weeks and I need room for the next batch of stuff I won’t look at more than once.

Tomorrow’s project is to write a couple reviews and try to organize the 1210+ bits of blather on this site into something resembling a book.

I also have to post ink that’s for sale and decide what to do with an old bag that’s suppose to be a second bug out bag.

In the end I’ll probably just end up playing tanks. Or watching other people play.


Kingdom Note’s Japanese “Biological” Inks–All the Swatches (Plus Two)

Note: My apologies for this unfortunately long post. I’ve attempted to align smaller versions of the pictures side by side but have failed miserably and feel it’s best not to teach my daughters any more bad words than they’ve already learned up to this point. Also, please forgive the few misspellings and the constant bad handwriting.

Note Too: The photos appear as close to the physical swatches as I can get them on my home monitor. Your version of the pictures may vary substantially from the way I see them.


For reasons I’ve mentioned before I consider myself the official international distributor of Kingdom Note‘s Japanese “Biological” series of inks. They feature colors taken from flora and fauna that live in and near Japan.

Although I don’t own all the inks, I did take samples as they passed through the variety room and, based on those, bought several for myself.

In general, I find the KN inks to be less saturated than many other specialty Sailor inks, Bungubox for example, but they are gentle on your pens.


The Birds

In this series my favorite is Kiji (Green Pheasant). It has more shade and sheen than seen in the photo below. It also tends to go down dark but dry with a paler look.

Oshidori (Mandarin Duck) has a nice terracotta look and is almost always in one of my pens.

I also like Rurikakeshi (Lidth’s Jay) but there are other blues I like better. Lidth’s Jay is a bit more pale than as shown in the photo.

Hayabusa (Peregrine Falcon)

Toki (Crested Ibis)

Rurikakeshi (Lidth’s Jay)

Kiji (Green Pheasant)

Oshidori (Mandarin Duck)

The Crustaceans

In this series I’m particularly fond of Yashigani (Coconut Crab). I like the mahogany/chocolate look and like that it works in different nib sizes. I also like Kurumaebi, but mostly in medium and broad nibs.

Shiomaneki (Fiddler Crab) is another favorite, although I understand why people don’t like it. I think it works best in wet medium and broad nibs.

I like Takaashigani (Spider Crab) but only in certain pens.

Kurumaebi (Japanese Tiger Prawn aka Shrimp)

Shiomaneki (Fiddler Crab)

Takaashigani (Spider Crab)

Yashigani (Coconut Crab)

Nihonzarigani (Blue Crayfish)

The Fungi

I’m not as fond of this series as the others. In fact, the only one I own is Kawaratake (aka Blue Fungus). It is one of my favorite blue inks (I can’t decide if it counts as a blue-black or not). I also like the look of Moegitake (aka Green Mushroom) but haven’t used it.

Benitengutake (Fly Agaric) reminds me of Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Gaki. I don’t currently own a bottle, but it’s on the well, yeah, maybe some day list.

Sorairotake (aka Sky Blue Mushroom)

Sakuratake (aka Pink Mushroom)

Moegitake (aka Green Mushroom)

Kawaratake (aka Blue Fungus)

Benitengutake (Fly Agaric)

The Bugs

My mother always says the only good bug is a dead bug, which means she would probably smash these bottles once she saw the pictures of bugs on them, but this is probably my favorite series. The only one I don’t own is Okuwagata (Stag Beetle). It has a nice green sheen to it, but there are other black inks I like better.

Omurasaki (Japanese Emperor Butterfly) is usually in at least one of my pens. Note that it may be slightly more lavender than the picture below but I got is as close as possible.

Higurashi (Green Cicada) is a new favorite. Ruriboshikamikiri (Blue Beetle) is a nice blue.

My favorite, though, is Kabutomushi (Rhinoceros beetle) Yes, I know it’s misspelled on the swatch. I especially like it in my LAMY 2000. It seems to match perfectly to that pen’s F nib.

Higurashi (Green Cicada)

Omurasaki (Japanese Emperor Butterfly)

Ruriboshikamikiri (Rosalia Bates, aka Blue Beetle)

Kabutomushi (Rhinoceros Beetle)

Okuwagata (Stag Beetle).

The Jellyfish

I don’t own and have not used this series. I like the Murasakikurage (aka Purple Jellyfish) and may get a bottle in the future. I’m torn on Yanagikurage (Sea Nettle). It reminds me of Noodler’s Apache Sunset, but has the advantage of drying in this lifetime.

Owankurage (aka Mint Jellyfish)

Murasakikurage (aka Purple Jellyfish)

Ginkodurage (aka Blue Jellyfish)

Yanagikurage (Sea Nettle)

Tacokurage (aka Pink Jellyfish)

Bonus Inks: The Tale of Genji Series

This is part of a new series of inks (with accompanying pens) recently released by Kingdom Note. Four inks have been released, but I’ve only been able to get my hands on two.

I like Tachibana but am not a fan of Asahanada’s Fabric (misidentified as Asao’s Fabric on the swatch).

Tale of Genji Series Asahanada’s Fabric

Tale of Genji Series Tachibana


At a Loss for Explanations

I’ve had bad classes but I don’t think I’ve ever had a class that made me go: “What just happened?”

My fifth period class today was a lower level third year junior high school class. I gave them an assignment to 1) fill out a questionnaire about the school trip they took a few weeks ago and 2) copy the answers of that questionnaire into something resembling an essay.

What should have made this assignment easy was that they had done something similar for their regular English class. In fact, students in my other low level third year class had copied parts of their writing assignment with my blessing.

Today, however, they just sort of stopped. At least some of them did. They seemed to have decided that if nobody did the assignment than the assignment wouldn’t count.

Although I kept chasing after them and helping them, many only did the questionnaire but never turned the paper over to work on the essay. Several approached me claiming they were finished, but when I flipped the page they kind of frowned, went back to their desks, and did nothing.

At the end of the class I collected the worksheets, which surprised a lot of the students, even though I’d reminded them several times that I would.

Next week there may or may not be a class and the week after that will be the last class before the exam. This means my dilemma is to give them homework via their homeroom teacher or to drop the issue and score them badly.

I’ll probably do the latter as it’s June.

June is Always June

It’s been unseasonably cool the past couple days in a June that’s been surprisingly merciful thus far. However, despite this taste of mercy, the students at the school where I work are in June mode and that means mercy is not being shown.

Because they are in the sweet spot between midterms and final exams, and because the class I teach didn’t have a midterm, the students have begun causing more trouble. They haven’t had an exam and don’t take our classes that seriously. This creates a period of what might best be described as “rediscovery” where they’ve begun to retest limits and discover what the consequences will be.

With classes that are held in the students’ homeroom, you see the phenomenon where it takes students a couple minutes after the bell to 1) realize I’m in the class even though I’m telling them to hurry; 2) remember why I’m there; and 3) get their books and stuff and get to their assigned seats. It’s no exaggeration to say that students from the same homeroom can get to a class in a different building and get sat down faster than students in the homeroom can get sat down.

Usually at two minutes there are consequences. Today, though, a student took four minutes to get sat down whilst maintaining a “Whadda ya gonna doaboudit?” look on his face as other students enjoyed the show.

What I did about it was extend class five minutes and give everyone homework as a present from him. (Note: I realize that collective punishment is technically a violation of the Geneva Conventions; however, in my defense, those rules were written by people who’ve never taught eighth grade boys.)

Because the class was sixth period I had a lot of time. As promised, class ran long and then I tried to get them stood up and quiet for the official goodbye. I had to chase students from another group out and the student who’d caused all the trouble escaped.

Doubling down on my Geneva Conventions violations, I told the rest of the class they’d stay until he came back and then we’d start the extra time. Luckily, their homeroom teacher is an English teacher and he was very patient. He also got a good look at them cutting up and trying to make a joke out of it. Also, once they saw he wasn’t coming in the room, they realized the joke was on them and got quiet.

Eventually the prodigal student returned and class was finally able to end. About ten minutes after the bell.