Monthly Archives: November 2016

Redoin’ and Rethinkin’ the Rulin’s

Had a busy day today and wasn’t able to finish work on my new set of Rulin’s for the next year of my life. Why I’m doing my new Rulin’s now should be explained.

After much consideration I’ve decided that although I like the idea of new year’s resolutions, I don’t fully understand why they have to start on New Year’s Day. It makes more sense to me to start your resolutions on your birthday.

There are a couple problems with deciding your resolutions around the new year. 1) You’re probably drunk; 2) You will not admit you are as drunk as you actually are; 3) if you’re not drunk you’re hungover and life has no meaning beyond blissful death; and 4) You’re more worried about fighting through after Christmas/New Year’s sales than you are your future. (Which is probably why you got so drunk in the first place.)

Throw in the fact that, at least in my part of the Northern hemisphere, you’re locked in the dregs of winter and the short, dark days make you feel depressed and that makes you come up with resolutions such as “Find life purpose by February or set self on fire.”  (Something like that.)

If you’re resolution is to start going to the gym to exercise, you’re also competing for gym space with the thousands upon thousands of other people who’ve also resolved to start lifting weights and the veteran regulars who wish you’d hurry and set yourself on fire.

In my case, the new year is also complicated by annual trips to in-laws. I’m surrounded by people and probably more drunk than I’ll admit and probably more annoyed than I deserve to be.

Birthday’s seem more natural for this kind of planning.  As you celebrate the start of a new year of life, that’s the perfect time to sit down with your journal and review the previous year. What did you accomplish? What are you grateful for? What are you stuck in? What got put away? What needs to be set on fire and gotten rid of? Why did you buy THAT?

After looking over your year, you can make better decisions and set clearer goals. If you decide to exercise, you’re only competing for gym space with the fraction of the population born on or around your birthday.

Then again, some birthdays are depressing and may not be the best times to make decisions.

Closer to One-Hundred Than My Birth

I didn’t think it would be this way, but it’s clear that your fiftieth birthday is a birthday you can’t ignore or pass off as “here we go again”. Turning 50 leaves marks.

I didn’t have much reaction to my thirtieth birthday, as I was actually kind of happy to reach thirty as it meant the symbolic end of the age 25-30 freak out that I and several of my friends went through. (Mine involved Albania, Mississippi, borderline stalking, a poet and moving to Japan. Long story.) (Note: the actual end of the freak out was a couple years later, although that is debatable.)

Turning forty was no big deal, although a few months after my birthday the physical switches started flipping off, starting with my eyesight, when I noticed I could no longer read the inscription on my wedding ring without a magnifying glass.

Fifty, though, won’t be ignored. I still don’t know how I feel about it, but saying “I’m in my fifties” resonates differently than “I’m in my forties.” There’s no way to say it where you can deny how old you are. Adding “early-” doesn’t seem to help that much. Being 50 also reminds you of all those childish things you haven’t put away even though you are hell and gone from being a child. (Note: I still spake, as a child, so to spake.)

Oddly, I could feel the stress of it coming, although I didn’t realize that’s what it was. I’ve been in diet/lifestyle change rebound, short-temper mode, and a state of drift that involves doing anything that’s not productive and doing it with great passion. My goal for most of November has been to accomplish as little as possible while spending as much energy as I can.

That said, I’m in reasonably good health. I’ve rebounded in weight some, but not disasterously so as my new clothes all still fit and now that the birthday’s come and gone, I can feel myself coming to terms with it, although the beer, Bordeaux and bourbon that’s been flowing the past couple days may explain that.

The next few days (more or less) of this blog will be devoted to New Year’s resolutions (or Rulin’s) which I now believe should be made on your birthday rather than in the dark recesses of winter (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) and one or two other fiftieth birthday related posts.

Half Off Yet Consistent

About ten minutes before class I started distrusting my notes.

I had copies made and a basic plan in mind, but then the nagging feeling that I’d done all that before set in. I checked and rechecked my notes, but I couldn’t find anything resembling certainty. I decided that whatever the truth, I could probably wing it.

About halfway to class I realized that, yes, I had done the lesson before. Luckily I was teaching a lower level class which meant they moved rather slowly through the material. However, I knew I’d need more material for my sixth period class, which was the same grade but a higher level.

Then I realized I hadn’t taught a lesson for my fifth period class which meant I couldn’t yet teach the lesson I’d planned to teach.

Somehow, I got through all the classes. It taught me, though, to take better notes, or at least to update them when plans change.

Nothing Gained Got Nothing

A placeholder today as I spent most of the day out of the house working or waiting to work.

In fact, the thing I dislike the most about my current schedule, voluntary though it may be, is the amount of time I spend waiting to go to work.

This means time on trains, time in coffee shops and time doing actual preparation. It’s boring and that makes it more tiring that should be.

Also, perhaps because of the weather, I was more cranky than usual. (More on that in a future post.)

Luckily, my evening class was good.

One-Thousand Bits of Blather

If I could do math, I’d figure out how many years 1,000 posts is, but I can’t be bothered to do so. Instead, I’ll just admit I’m shocked I’m still doing this and shocked I intend to keep going.

I also have to keep in mind there were a couple days posted directly to Facebook because of technical difficulties with the site, which means I’ve probably already passed 1,000.

Either way, the blog has become a regular habit, for better and for worse, and the compulsion to produce something at all costs has led me to produce more than a few bits of filler. This is partly because my usual writing time (sometime after 10:00 p.m.) has become more of a chore than it used to be and I’m not always in the mood to produce something, but then I produce something.

I’ve resisted the urge to produce nothing, even when I have very little to say, mostly because I know how addictive that “after all, tomorrow is another day” habit can be.

Readership hasn’t climbed greatly, but that’s partly the fault of the random content and lack of self-promotion.

The goal from now on is more pen and stationery posts mixed with more personal history and random philosophical bits, tying it all together whenever possible. It’s fun doing the long-term pen and notebook reviews, but they take time, not only to use the item long-term, but also to assemble notes and to take and process photos. In general, if I haven’t done all that by 10:00, I end up with a filler post.

I continue to resist any kind of plan, but I also know I’m too dependent on random posts.

For those who’ve stuck around though, thanks, although I’m not sure why you are still  around. Thanks, though. I hope you’ll stick around.

Bad Good Okay Seriously?

The first class today was bad enough that I ended up splitting the class into “study area” and “play area”. My only hope for the future with them is to find a mustard seed’s worth of faith that keeps me from having the “play area” students in class again until they are in high school. If they are this bad as JHS 1s, they will be uncontrollable when they are in the higher grades.

My second class, which was the same grade, was much better, but a few students are starting to turn. That means more homework and some lunch dates.

My third class was JHS 3 and they divided themselves into “play area” and “study area”.

After that, the evening was topped with me having to give attitude on a few students. One refused to listen; another refused to remain coherently awake (eyes open does not count as awake); and a third decided to invent his own set of instructions because he didn’t understand the ones in front of him.

Not a bad day, really, just odd.

Once More Into the Breach

I inked up a pen I haven’t used in a while to decide if I really want to sell it.

The problem is, this isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

For the first step, I merely hold the pen again and decide if I like how it feels. I’ve tried that with several pens and decided, in a couple cases, I still didn’t like how they felt. They remain in the to-be-sold case.

After a pen passes the “yeah, that doesn’t feel so bad” test, I have to decide on the ink. This creates a new problem.

I chose a newly acquired ink for the pen I resurrected today. Thus far the ink and the pen don’t seem to be playing nicely together. This means I’ll eventually have to clean the pen out and try it with a second ink. If it fails again, then it’s sayonara for the pen. On the other hand, if it passes, then, well, that’s when things get complicated.

I have a couple pens I like a lot. By this I mean I appreciate how well they are made and I like writing with them, but they’re simply not my style anymore. Fore example, if anyone wants to buy this pen, email me.

Those pens might get one last chance, but they’ll probably go.

The pens I do like get to live on. Which means they get used for a while and then filed away for future consideration.

Pen Pineapple Apple Birthday

It started when I went to buy an apple. A few of my former students were gathered around the apple display and acting suspiciously. Well, it seems suspicious in retrospect. It turned out I almost ruined it all, and I wasn’t even trying.

Then, later, I went to say hello and they all vanished into their room. Keep in mind, things such as this have happened to me before so I wasn’t that surprised.

Then, several minutes after lunch, my former students crashed my new class. They marched in to the P.P.A.P music and presented me with my presents: an apple and a pineapple. They said I already had pens so they didn’t need to buy me those. I said there was always room for pens but they didn’t get it.

They showed me my card but wouldn’t let me have it because not everyone had signed it. (Note: they were signing the card and that’s whey they all ran away; at least that’s their story and they’re sticking to it…)

I got the card later and then I became a prop for several photos. (Note: because my students are still in high school I can’t share the pictures.)

It was sweet they all remembered. But now I’ve been reminded and, well, yeah.


All Work and Some Gab

Except for a much needed conversation with an old friend, I spent a good portion of the day working on things that needed to be done. You can blame a broken computer mouse for that.

Because the mouse was broken I wasn’t able to waste much time playing games. The mouse would do basic stuff, but it occasionally decided to break free of it’s programming and scroll any which way it wanted. This was especially true in the game. As I was trying to scroll in to target an enemy, it was scrolling out as if to say “haven’t enough tanks died today”? That was usually followed by me dying so you can guess the answer to that question.

This meant I got some writing done, on a couple projects, and even did a rough outline of the course I start teaching tomorrow. However, it’s left me drained for any real ideas for this post. If I were smart, I’d write nothing, but the habit is too well ingrained now to stop easily.

I have more reviews coming up as I finish using a couple notebooks and consider putting a couple pens out to pasture. (I’ll describe that thought process in a future post.)

Until then, let this count as a place holder.

Meet the New Observer, Same as the Old Observer

They let him wander for a while, which was pretty funny, but he was also pretty cool, so I felt kind of bad when I found out he’d wandered.

While he was there, I made a student do push-ups today; but I did them too, just in case. This will probably come back to haunt me.

Today, at the school where I work, we were observed by a representative of the company for which I work. (Long story.) Because I threw a temper tantrum a few years ago, I got to pick the day he showed up. (An even longer story.)

However, when he arrived, he didn’t bother to contact either us (the teachers) or the main office. As a result, we went to class while he was apparently wandering around the school.

After I finally found the representative, I led him to my class. He seemed nice enough, but he is new management, which means he should be scanned, so to speak. One of my students had  not brought his textbook which meant he had to do three push ups. However, this student apparently had never done push ups before, and I had to show him what to do.

(Note: This is the first time I’ve ever exercised in class.)

(Second note: This is not the first time I’ve exercised.)

I find the observations amusing. I’ve been teaching, in some form or another, since 1989. I’ve been in Japan for 20 years. The observer has been in Japan for eight years.

Still, he was pretty cool. I was especially impressed he used an analogue notebook rather than a laptop computer for taking notes.

Maybe someday I’ll see his report. I’ll probably ignore it, though, but I’d like to see it. Especially because of the push ups.