Monthly Archives: May 2017

A-Holes of Various Types and Income

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the biggest assholes at an elementary school sports day are the parents of the first graders. They are young, fast, and everything is still new and they will get those photos/videos at all costs.

To make matters worse, they bring along grandparents who are just as deadly because they’ve reached the age where they just don’t care.

Today was especially bad. There was even a judging controversy.

Today was our youngest’s last sports day in elementary school which meant she had a lot to do which meant I had a lot of pictures to take. As a rule, She Who Must Be Obeyed takes video and I take still pictures. We have battle plan of sorts that involves finding out approximately where our youngest will be at any given moment. I always set up my tripod at the back of the  zone of tarps. This lets me get good camera angles and puts me standing behind a zone where people usually sit.

In general, most parents are fairly well behaved. Not today. Today there were a lot of assholes around.

The tarp zone, which is usually one solid zone of tarps, had lots of small dirt gaps of several inches. This meant that any gap was a free zone where people could stand and the people behind could be damned.

None of these people care about anything but pictures of children. Even the cameraless woman in the center.

Luckily, I only was interested in a few events, but even those were complicated by women who brought parasols to protect their skin from the sun.

A pair of female assholes who probably won’t get skin cancer.

I can forgive all this, though, because, as a parent, I understand the urge to get as many pictures as possible.

The next level of asshole is the professional asshole who gets to roam around the field taking pictures where ever he wants and always manages to get in the way.

This asshole blocked several shots (our youngest is behind him). The bright side is, I know the best camera angles.

However, even I can forgive that. Sort of.

What I can’t forgive, is the asshole mother in the designated photo section. She had kid in her arms but no camera. She was up against the rope when she should have been toward the back. She was talking to her friend and kept bumping into me as I tried to take shots.

I kept my cool, but I asked She Who Must Be Obeyed what “Take a picture or get the fuck out” was in Japanese but she rather vehemently refused to translate for me.

To make matters worse, there was a judging controversy. Going into the final event–the big ball race–our youngest’s team was behind but was in striking distance of victory.

In the race, all members of each of the two teams help pass a large inflated ball down the line to a final resting place. I noticed right away that the teams seemed to be operating under different rules.

When the white team dropped the ball, they had to bring it back to the place it had touched the ground and start from there. The red team, though, was allowed to pick the ball up from where it had stopped and continue from there. I thought it might be a delusion created by my own parental bias, but it turned out an asshole was involved.

The red team won two races in a row and secured the overall victory. However, the judges for the white team had misunderstood the rules. Because part of each team is little kids who are shorter than the ball, they are allowed to roll the ball rather than try to keep it in the air. The asshole judge, however, insisted they move a “dropped” ball back and start from the drop point it had started rolling.

Next year’s sports day will be our youngest’s first in junior high school. There usually aren’t many assholes there, but we’ll see.



Getting Ready for the Sports and the Dust

Not much happened to day except I did a lot of running around and started getting ready for tomorrow.

Our youngest has her final sports day as an elementary school student tomorrow and that caused me to chase down batteries and chargers.

As I’ve mentioned before, the more sports days there are, the less interesting they become. The last four sports days haven’t been that interesting or important. The first was interesting and important because it was the first and this one will be interesting and important because it is the last.

Because it is her last sports day, our youngest will have lot of stuff to do, including dancing and athletics and running. My job will be to take still photos whilst She Who Must Be Obeyed takes the moving pictures.

This all has me checking cameras and charging batteries and trying to mentally ready myself for potential “encounters”.

Hopefully, it will be an entertaining show.

Cleaning and Refilling and Retiring

Not a lot happened today (although that will change tomorrow). Spent part of today cleaning pens and deciding which ones to retire. In the end I chose the cheapest because they were the most high maintenance.

One pen got refilled with the same ink (which I count as “cleaning” the pen) and another got retired. A third got refilled with an ink I’ve had for a while but haven’t actually tried.

The pen that got retired was one of my Noodler’s Ahab pens. I like the pen, but find Noodler’s pens to be too high maintenance for my taste.

I also discovered an ink sample I got a long time ago and filled one of my cheap pens with it.

Along the way I took and processed some photos for future reviews on this site. Couldn’t be bothered to write them yet, though.


Monteverde Impressa–Initial Impressions

Note: The Monteverde Impressa receiving initial impressions today was kindly donated by Pen Chalet. It’s arrival in Japan prompted the following conversation with She Who Must Be Obeyed:

SWMBO–Here’s your package. What is it?
Me–It’s a fountain pen! (Ode to Joy plays from out of nowhere.)
SWMBO–How much money did it cost?
Me–Nothing! (Ta-Da! sound.) It was donated by Pen Chalet. It only cost me my soul.
SWMBO–Good. As long it wasn’t charged to our credit card.

Something like that.

The Monteverde Impressa (Pearl Silver with Blue Trim) I received today is the first Monteverde pen I’ve ever tried. I’ve only used it for a few hours, but I already like it.

It’s not the style of pen I’d choose for myself, especially because I’m still coming to terms with the square cap on the round body, but the the pearl silver looks great and hides finger prints well. I also like the metallic, cobalt blue furniture.

The Monteverde Impressa. Great color, but not sure about that squarish cap.

There were some odd issues when I tried to fill it the first time–I usually fill with the nib and converter attached–but that may be a testament to Sailor’s crappy new ink bottles rather than than the pen itself. In the end had to fill the converter and then attach it to the feed.

The steel F nib is smooth with a bit of tooth. At 42 grams  (1.5 ounces) it is a rather heavy pen, especially when posted, but it’s still comfortable to use. Unposted, it’s as long as my TWSBI Diamond 580, but a portion of that is the larger nib which make the body and section shorter.

The section is 9 mm wide, which puts it right at the edge of too thin for my taste, but I like the ridge around the bottom of the section. It provides a bit of girth and keeps my fingers from gripping the nib.

Although it is a metal pen covered in some sort of enamel paint, it doesn’t feel cold or slippery.

Detail of the nib and feed, next a small writing sample on an Inky Fingers Currently Inked notebook.

My only issues at this point are aesthetic. Although the nib writes well, I’m not sure it needs “MONTEVERDE” printed twice on it. Also, the pearl silver finish has a couple marks that look like scratches, but may actually be flaws in the finish.

Then there’s that square cap. (More on that and the overall look in a future review.)

The hinged clip is terrific, but I’m not sure about the metal screw I can see inside the cap. Since fountain pens tend to leak into the cap in some form or another, I’m worried about corrosion.

The pen seems to be targeted at people interested in trying a fountain pen for the first time and I was pleased to see it came with a converter as well as two small international cartridges. This allows the new user to try the pen and then move on to bottled ink/inky fingers without having to buy more stuff for the pen. The box it came with was also impressive, but seems to be overkill for a $27 pen. I say get rid of the box and make it a sub $25 pen.

The Impressa is now in my rotation and I’ll do a long term review in six months or so. Until then, thanks again to Pen Chalet for their generous donation.


Better Than You Might Expect

This time of year, when most of our classes are on outings of various kinds, we often end up with a couple days off because all our classes are somewhere else.

In my case, I’ve got a surprising amount of time off (as does another teacher) and we spend a lot of time making jokes about how our classes are so terrible we’ve decided to take the day off or, in my case, the rest of the week.

Today, I had to modify the joke/form of rubbing it in.

My first class was noisy which had me worried as they are usually one of my better classes. This had me dreading my second class as they are my worst junior high school second year class. I was especially dreading that they were going to have to write an original conversation, albeit, with a lot of examples they could copy, as explanations of such things usually prod blank stares and fits of wakarimasen dekimasen.

Instead, although they were a bit noisy, my bad class actually started working right away and a couple groups were actually finished with the writing, but chicken out at the chance for bonus points by going early.

I came out of the class feeling positive which meant I had to change the joke/form of rubbing it in. Because the class was so good I didn’t want to ruin the happy feeling so I decided to take the next three days off.

These days off will come back to haunt me at the end of the year. Until then, I have some time to myself.


The Worst and the Best

Today was better than I expected but there were some issues. Tomorrow, I suspect, will have lots of issues.

Because this is a week with lots of absent students and lots of school trips, my students were mostly worthless today. By an odd scheduling quirk all my classes were junior high school first year students who, as they are getting ready to head to an orientation camp, weren’t that interested in speaking English. They were interested, though, in complaining how they didn’t understand what I was saying.

Tomorrow I have junior high school second year students. JHS 2 classes are traditionally considered the worst classes because they’ve figured out the scam (can’t fail) and are smack dab in the midst of teenage boy puberty.

I have a writing assignment for them, but I’m not expecting much, at least from my afternoon class. After that things get better. More on all that in a future post.

Watching Bad Movies Vicariously

The day started with a spinach, bacon and cheese omelet (because today was Mother’s Day) and went down hill after that.

On days I get lazy I seek out old movies or television and keep that on in the background whilst I pretend to attempt other things.

Today, though, I binged watched the guys at Red Letter Media review B-movies with titles such as Xtro, Samurai Cop, and KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park. In most cases cases the worst videos are destroyed.

After hearing about RLM after their excellent reviews of the Star Wars prequels–reviews that involve Pizza Rolls, dead wives and a hooker chained in the basement–I started following their videos.

They can be wacky and loud and they tend to prefer movies with lots of gore and beheadings, but I’m a big fan of their Best of the Worst series. They pick a theme–action movies, Christmas horror, robots, ninjas–and watch and review three movies. They also have a variation called Wheel of the Worst that involves a spinning wheel and videos that are not movies.

The YouTube videos focus on their reactions before, during and after the films, and include longer reviews/analyses of them. As you watch you kind of feel like a participant in a group of friends who are watching a bad movie, but without actually having to watch the bad movie.

Note: at one point there were a couple women who joined them in the viewings and reviews, but they have mysteriously disappeared which, given the types of movies these guys watch, could be considered suspicious. 

In the end, one video is chose best of the worst and one video is destroyed for being the worst of the worst.

It’s not very productive, but it is a lot of fun.


Overwhelmingly Overwhelming

Today, in fits and starts, I worked on my latest project. Fits is the most accurate description.

Because I tend to be a discovery writer, which means I just start writing and let things happen as they happen (which frequently explains this bit of blather), I tend to resist the phase where things have to be organized. In fact, this phase tends to be an extended phase of denial and distraction that keeps me from finishing.

Today was no exception. I spent a lot of time watching random nonsense whilst occasionally doing some work.

Eventually, I did some work, but I tend to find this part of the revision process to be fairly intimidating. There are darlings that need to be killed and decisions that have to be made. I have to resist the urge to line edit because if I don’t I’ll never actually finish the project. Instead, I’ll have highly well proofed opening chapters but nothing after that.

Today I managed to make a rough outline, defined a character better and changed a few nicknames.

The latter doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it helps me defined the characters which helps me with the next phase. Whatever that turns out to be. A


Those Few, Those Befuddled Few

My bad student stayed awake and actually did something resembling classwork, albeit all he did was draw pictures. Unfortunately, no one was there to see it, except a woman staring through the window.

I also got a compliment that I only get once each year.

Today was open classes at the school where I work. This means that if we teach first year anything we usually get observers.

The class with my bad student had no observers, except a woman who stared longingly through the window. My bad student got an assignment paper and then put his head down on it. I woke him up and explained the assignment and he seemed to have fun drawing pictures–the assignment required students to make a fake photo album and write a conversation. He drew some of the pictures but didn’t write the conversation. He did this whilst his classmates performed their conversations with their fake photo albums

In the afternoon, I had four observers. Unfortunately for them, they got watch the writing phase of the fake photo album, but didn’t get to see the actual performances. This meant a good portion of the class involved the students speaking Japanese and me running around helping people and putting out fires.

I’m sure the observers were befuddled, but they got to see real class. I don’t modify what I do for observations and that means that timing is everything. I do add a little bit of extra energy and I wear a tie, which usually earns me one compliment/reaction.

I won’t get another complement until next year.

Sludging Through the Muck

No one was really interested, and I can’t say I was that interested either, but everything actually kind of worked out in the end.

Today all of my classes were either classes that are already turning bad or classes that won’t have class at all next week as they are going on school trips. This means that none of them were that interested in doing much.

As such, I either gave them a writing assignment to start, one to finish, or a review class. The writing assignment started slowly, but by the end, after much patrolling by me, everyone managed to produce something.

The one to finish actually finished early, with only one pair getting it horribly wrong.

The review class started out slowly, especially as it’s a lower level class that seems incapable of 1) understanding that they were reviewing something they’d already studied and 2) would look back one page in their textbooks to get examples.

By the end of class, though, they’d all managed to finish the assignment and I kept busy checking their work.

Next time I’ll owe them a game of some sort.