Saturday, November 01, 2008

'When I was a kid almost all kids were thin and so were most adults. Overweight people stood out. Now it’s the lean and healthy people who stand out.'

I'm working on it, dammit.

Free the Animal: A Weekend Roundup:
"Dr. Michael Eades with a whopper of a post on the changing perceptions of obesity. Says the doc, 'When I was a kid almost all kids were thin and so were most adults. Overweight people stood out. Now it’s the lean and healthy people who stand out.' Word."

Here's a larger excerpt, looking at how societal perspective on health and body appearance changes over time. Pretty interesting stuff.

The Blog of Michael R. Eades, M.D. » Changing perceptions of obesity:
"...Oliver Hardy was considered grotesquely obese in his time. When you watch the following short film, look at how obese he really was in terms of today’s obesity epidemic. he’s obese, of course, but you could walk through any mall in America and see dozens of people much more obese than Hardy…but not in his day.

Another obese character from my youth was Curly Howard (Jerome Lester Horwitz), the zany, manic, overweight butt of all the Three Stooges jokes. I remember Curly as being enormously obese, but looking at him in the clip below, he wouldn’t stand out in a crowd today. In fact, he looks almost normal (as compared to today’s citizens, of course).

Although I was never much of a fan as a kid, my folks loved the Jackie Gleason show. Jackie reveled in his obesity, and even went by the monicker The Fat Man. He was thought of at the time as incredibly obese...

Amazing, isn’t it? Again, you wouldn’t notice him in a crowd today.

I’ve gone on this trip down memory lane just to show you how the perception of obesity has changed over the years. What was obese 50 years ago is kind of normal now. Consequently, it’s easy to see how it would be easier to consider oneself normal when one is really overweight. And it’s easy to see why a lot of people would think they have only a few pounds to shed when they’ve really got a few dozen."

Correlation isn't causation, though it is instructive. And interesting.

Dietary changes and heart disease, via Free the Animal: What Causes Heart Disease?:
"...death by [myocardial infarction/heart attack] was unheard of in 1910 (about 100 years ago), had risen to 3,000 deaths per year by 1930, and to 500,000 by 1960. Then I provided eight food group categories, A - H, and indicated how much each had changed over the last 100 years...:

* A; sugar and sweeteners: 100% increase
* B; eggs, fruit (excl. citrus), vegetables, whole grain: Moderate decrease
* C; lowfat milk: 100% increase
* D; whole (full fat) milk: 50% decrease
* E; butter, lard, tallow: 70% decrease (30 lbs. per person per year to under 10)
* F; vegetable oils (incl. hydrogenated): 437% increase (11 lbs. pppy to 59)
* G; poultry: 280% increase (18 lbs. pppy to 70)
* H; beef; 46% increase (54 lbs. pppy to 79)

So, if one were to simply line it up by the numbers, the order would be like this:

1. Massive increase in vegetable oil consumption.
2. Huge increase in poultry consumption.
3. Large increase in sugar and sweeteners.
4. Large increase in low fat milk consumption.
5. Large decrease in animal fat consumption (butter, lard, tallow).
6. Moderate decrease in whole, full fat milk consumption.
7. Moderate increase in beef consumption.
8. Moderate decrease in eggs, fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

Of course, this is missing junk and highly processed foods.

Now, I agree with the commenter on the previous post. This does not establish causality. And yet, how many decades has it been now that the "health" establishment has been telling you, as though it was certain, that meat and saturated fat are the causes of heart disease?"

So dumb it'll make you weep.

Balloon Juice » Blog Archive » Stupid Story of the Day:
"1. Kid in school assigned to draw scary Halloween mask in Art class.

2. Kid draws scary vampire mask

3. Kid can’t come back to school until he passes a psychological evaluation."

"...can always spot a Pharisee" may be my favorite line of the week.

It appeals to the "had to go to Catholic School and Sunday School" part of me. You know, for a comedian, Patton Oswalt is damn smart. [Though the best comedians are, of course.] Blogs - THE MOMENT McCAIN LOST and CRYSTAL COMICS - Patton Oswalt MySpace Blog:
"...there was a major fuck-up that happened during the RNC, which just revealed itself -- at least, to me -- Thursday night on THE DAILY SHOW.

John Oliver, who's been hitting them out of the park these past two weeks in his remote segments (watch the fascinating, choking-back-disgust performance as he interviews the fringe elements at McCain/Obama rallies) was the one who brought it to my attention. In Oliver's Thursday segment on THE DAILY SHOW, he showed footage of Guiliani and Palin sneering at people who work as "community organizers". 'Cuz, you know, community organizers are jokes. Ha ha!

He also talks to "watchdog" Matthew Vadum (incredibly, a man who manages to kick my ass in the "being shaped like a mound of shit" category) who points out that Osama Bin Laden is also a community organizer. Ha! Take that, people trying to help their communities! Fuck you, terrorists!

Then Oliver talks to Liz Shaw, a conservative Christian living in Southeast Ohio. You see, she's also a community organizer. She's an authentic, small-town type who deals with hunger issues in the Appalachian Valley. And she was a bit hurt when Sarah Palin, a cunt with a fake accent wearing a Saks Fifth Avenue wardrobe, essentially called her useless in front of a stadium of cheering cunts and assholes.

"I'm not only voting for Obama, I'm organizing for him."

There you go, dumbshits. With one sentence, you pissed off the ACTIVE, ORGANIZING, MOTIVATED branch of your conservative Christian base. Y'see, it's easy to rile up and encourage the know-nothing dumbfucks who do what they're told 'cause "God has a plan". But a Christian like Liz Shaw, who walks it like she talks it, can always spot a Pharisee."

Pretty funny - "Least I Could Do."

Via Least I Could Do » Home Page

Friday, October 31, 2008

Best Halloween Costume - Child Mecha.

This was clever. And cute.

Training 208/61.

Upper body wkout/6 meals/4L water

Inspiration: - Over 40 Transformation Of The Week - Over 40 Transformation Of The Week - Allen Smolenski!:
"Name: Allen Smolenski, MD

Before: August 2007
Age: 43
Height: 5'10'
Weight: 232 lbs
Body Fat: 29%
Waist: 42'

After: October 2008
Age: 44
Height: 5'10'
Weight: 174.4 lbs
Body Fat: 5%
Waist: 30'"

The Onion predicts the future of politics from 1993.

Proving life will always become dumber and more ludicrous than you can predict. Joe the Plumber meet Roy the Forklift Driver.

Onion headline from 1993: Roy The Forklift Driver addresses nation - Boing Boing:
"The May 29, 1993 edition of The Onion has a preposterous fake story about a character named Roy the Forklift driver becoming a media darling of the conservative movement.

This is a cool look at something I never really thought about - "Bob Harris' photo diary of a trip to the North Korea border."

Much more at the link. This is just a taste.

Bob Harris' photo diary of a trip to the North Korea border - Boing Boing:
"...I probably don't need to explain how the Ten Human Bombs met their end.

...Not far away, there's a marker where a yellow poplar tree used to grow. By 1976, it had gotten so big that the UN observation post at upper right couldn't quite see the goings-on at a checkpoint just out of the frame to the left.

At the time, soldiers from each side could move about the JSA freely.

So a group of UN soldiers, including U.S. Army Cpt. Arthur Bonifas, went to cut the tree down. The North Koreans took exception, and pretty soon, a bunch of them ax-murdered two of the UN guys, including Cpt. Bonifas.

Ever since, soldiers from each side can no longer move about the JSA freely.

And that's why the camp where we got our briefing is called Camp Bonifas..."

[Real] history is kind of fascinating.

Brutal, but fascinating.

[Yes, those are heads.]
Pic via riotclitshave: Execution of Namoa Pirates at Kowloon, Hong Kong c1880

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Relationships and humor.

Training 207.

12 week cycle, day 60.

20m cardio, 2L water, 6 meals

Inspiration: One of the greatest fights of all time, even 20 years later - Marvin Hagler VS Thomas Hearns. "The War." And round one is easily the best round I've ever seen.

Round 1

Round 2

Round 3

Man, all the cool people love the devil.

Via riotclitshave

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Training 204-206.

12week training cycle, days 57-59.

204/57 - upper body wkout/6 meals/3L water
205/58 - 20m cardio/5 meals/3L water
206/59 - lower body wkout/6 meals/3L water

In other news, I am awesome. Check out my kick-ass low-carb chicken pizza.
From 2008-10-29

This is actually the one I threw together for Sandy, the one I made for me was less, um... well developed. Hey, it was the first time I made it. It's a learning process.
From 2008-10-29

Recipe via Low Carb Pizza Recipe | MuscleHack

"Ex-Transexual Wizard."


Warren Ellis » Ex-Transexual Wizard:
"I was about to go to bed when Wil Wheaton made me look at this.


I will never sleep again, for fear of an ex-wizard materialising over my bed to forcibly fashion me a uterus out of Jesus."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Perspectives on the Japanese Educational System.

Mike makes some interesting observations about Japanese education, and manages to pull off a blog post before 8AM.

Adventures in the Not-so-Orient: Random ranting before 8am:
"Watching the news this morning, I just saw a story of a high school, whose principal, in order to ensure that good hard working students got into his school, denied entry to some examinees despite passing the entrance exam. The reasons were due to bad manners and untidy dress. I wrong in wondering why the principal is being punished for trying establish standards at his school?"

Much more of the story and commentary at the link.

It's always kind of interesting, the Japanese educational system. They have, rightfully so, a well deserved reputation of educational success. At the same time, I think most folks outside Japan would be surprised to know - I was - despite their reputation, education is only compulsory through junior high school [US 9th grade.] It's also nearly impossible to fail or be held back a grade, regardless of grades or testing scores. And it's entirely possible to graduate out of junior high school without ever "passing." Attendance trumps everything. You show up, you graduate. But getting into high school and passing the entrance exams? A completely different story. Requiring OCD levels of study and test prep, plus juku/cram schools.

Positively schizophrenic.

Why Japan will win.

Waiter carries 20 beers at once | Japan Probe:
"A video clip of a waiter in in Sendai City who likes to carry 20 full beer mugs at once (without the aid of a tray)"

Perhaps the finest summary of democracy this political season.

Hit & Run > I Think I'm Dumb, or Maybe Just Happy - Reason Magazine:
"The problem is democratic. Any majoritarian system is, by its nature, going to rely on the involvement of masses of dumb people who can't read or understand rules very well."

"Canard" is a fancy word for "bullshit."

Hit & Run > John McCain: We Must Stop Coddling Criminals - Reason Magazine:
"You’d never know from such speechifying that a record 1 in 100 Americans is behind bars today, including 400,000 for nonviolent drug crimes. Or that prosecutors win convictions in 90-95 percent of their cases. The “judges are letting criminals off on a technicality” line is a canard."

"Whatever you're thinking about is literally like planning a future event."

"When you're worrying, you are planning. When you're appreciating, you are planning... What are you planning?" - Jerry and Esther Hicks

Monday, October 27, 2008

Mandatory wastes of my time.

So today was a good day. Kind of surprisingly. Three 3rd grade classes where even the yanki kids were pleasantly, affably and cheerfully yanki. Instead of their standard angsty and disruptive yanki. Which just made today an altogether marked contrast to yesterday...

But first, to help explain... in the Marines, way back in the dark ages when I served, there was... not a saying... but an understanding that the closer you were stationed to Washington DC, the more politically unpleasant and tightly wound your experience would be. East Coast Marines had it the worst, West Coast "Hollywood" Marines were a bit more loose, and those of lucky enough to serve in Hawaii... well let's just say the expressions "you're on vacation" and "not really in the military" came up more than once. So basically, closer to DC = bad, further from DC = good.

That being said, I've developed a similar theory here on the JET Programme, which roughly is this - the more interaction you have with the Prefectural Boards of Education, the more frustrated, annoyed and displeased you'll be, and the more you manage to avoid their bureaucratic nonsense, the better.

It's not a 100% consistent theory [but what is?] but as a rule of thumb, it works for me. And in fact, to be fair to both the hard working Japanese and gaijin who work at the various educational levels of bureaucracy here in Japan and whom, I'm sure, do their level best, it's really not them. It's the structure of bureaucracy itself. The inherent devotion to policy, regulations, process, rules and "the way things have been done" rather than an interest in logic, usefulness, efficiency and intent.

I consider myself extremely lucky, as a Municipal [instead of Prefectural] ALT on JET, I'm by default one more level removed from the highest levels of nonsense. Further, I'm extremely lucky that the local Board of Education that I work for is staffed with excellent, competent, efficient and practical minded folks. Not to mention they're just damn nice.

That being said, some nonsense just can't be avoided...

Such as... yesterday was the monthly required Municipal ALT meeting. Having to attend never fails to put me in a somewhat dispirited and foul mood. [Though, honestly, "it" doesn't put me in a bad mood, I do that to myself, regardless of how much I'd like to blame "it." Strive for a bit of intellectual honestly in your self-talk. It helps.] I just really don't enjoy going, and without fail I spend the majority of time at the meetings thinking "I would so much rather be teaching a class right now."

Why, oh why do they annoy me so?

Well... basically... to say they are *completely fucking useless* would be unecessarily harsh, probably. It would ring emotionally true, but I can't say, honestly, that they have no worth whatsoever. I have picked up some some good ideas, here and there, over the last 3 years.

It'd be more truthful to say that these regular meetings impart about 15-20 minutes of worthwhile information stretched out over about 3 hours. [And worse, next month's Mid Year Seminar takes about an hour or an hour and a half's worth of good ideas and activities and stretches it out over 2 days...] And in the amazing world of the internet age and email, that 15 or 20 minutes worth of good info could probably be filled with a one page monthly email.

The meetings strike me as something that someone thought was a good idea years ago, and may have been at that time, but it now carries on the same way due to the sheer weight of it's own momentum. Look, when the organizers of the meetings are begging ALTs to make presentations to, basically, fill time, it means you don't have to have the meetings.

I do get that for some ALTs, living in areas even more inaka than my rice field surrounded apartment, that these monthly meetings help provide a socialization factor and a chance to see other strangely faced foreigners. For some, they might need that. But I don't. As a natural introvert with a built in social support network via marriage, I just don't. And while I might sympathize/empathize [either way, the Mrs says I kinda suck at both, and she's right, I think] I don't get why I need to drag my ass to a meeting I've no interest in in order to salvage somebody else's psychological well being.

And I would agree that for folks on their first year of the JET, some kind of regular meeting is useful, though once a month would still seem quite a bit too frequent for my tastes. But I'm heading into year 4, and the things a 1st year might need to know... well, this is [at least] my 4th time hearing it. Wasting. My. Time.

Despite my negative opinion, yesterday's meeting actually got off to a good start. There was at least one presentation that I truly did enjoy and got an activity/idea from. So that was a pleasant bit of positivity. It didn't hurt that the presenter was a natural performer/educator [or if she wasn't, she'd trained herself to be damn good] whose enthusiasm was a bit contagious. In fact, that bit of presentation put me in a positive enough mood to participate a bit in the next section - a conversation about the merits of re-contracting.

As an aside, I'm not usually a participator. Not generally speaking, leastways. There was another Fukutsu JET who, years ago, at the meetings, would pull out a book at the start and stare at it until we were once more released into the wild. I tried it once, OCD reader of books that I am, but couldn't shake the feeling I was being rude to the speaker, so I stopped.

But yeah, whether or not someone should re-contract on JET... what are "good" reasons or "bad" reasons to stay in Japan... those kinds of questions strike me as things that, honestly, you have to figure out for yourself. Everybody has their own perspective, values, plans, wants and needs that'll color their decisions.

One example that comes up - yes, every damn year - is "Is it a good idea to stay in Japan for the money?" And the thing is, no one can answer that but you. IMHO, $, by itself isn't a good reason to stay, for me, but you just can't speak for anyone else. If they're in a position in their life where building up a nest egg in Japan is important to them, what with the collapsing economy [92\ to the $, as I type] well, then, it is a good reason to stay.

But the conversation even sucked me in, feeling good as I was, I pontificated uselessly on something or another about not making a decision from an unhealthy fear-based perspective, that it's a bad idea to go back because you're thinking that someone, somewhere was getting ahead of you in the rat race.

[There is no rat. There is no race. And even if there was, and you won, you'd still be a rat.]

And what did I get for my participation? An abbreviated break time, as the presentations all ended up running long.

Following the break, an admittedly useful Japanese language class, the effort which the instructor put in I do appreciate. But honestly, if I was serious about studying the language [which after three years, it would appear, that right now, I'm not], well then, I'd actually put in the study time myself.

Language classes wrap up, everything still running behind...

The next bit was about the Japanese educational system. I'd imagine again, for 1st years, it'd be useful, maybe. But if you've hit October of your 2nd year on JET and didn't know what they were telling you... well, then you haven't been paying attention or just don't care. For me, I was only clock watching as the time creeped closer and closer to quitting time.

And then! Quitting time!

But, sadly, no.

Because of their inability to maintain the schedule they put forth, I got to stay late for another presentation. Yes, it was only 15 minutes, but on top of the fact that there had only really been about 20 minutes of quality information that day anyway, the fact that I have to stay later than I was scheduled annoyed the hell out of me.

And as for the presentation... look, I don't want to be mean spirited, and I'm sure the presentation was planned with the best of intentions, but the topic was, and I kid you not, "How to Prepare for Winter/Stay Warm in the Coming Months."

That's a 20 second presentation, if you have to give it at all.

1 - Japanese buildings have no insulation.
2 - At your school, just like there's no central aircon in summer, there's no central heating in winter.
3 - Plan accordingly.

And you're done.

But I mean... seriously? Everybody there went to college, at least. And while this might be your first time out in the "real world" after college, you've lived outside the onus of your parent's watchful eyes before.

If you have to be instructed to "buy blankets," "layer," "buy a hat," and "check your whole apartment to see what you have before you buy new things" [all, I shit you not, actual advice given yesterday]... well, then, you know what? You really don't deserve to make it through the winter, and we'll dig your corpse out come spring's first thaw. Darwinian rules.

Even in the Marines, we had useless meetings. Section heads, every damn Monday morning. And if anyone above the rank of, say O-3, was there they'd drag on uselessly and forever. So, I mean, clearly, it's not solely indicative of JET.

[OTOH, when it was just the Capts, the LTs and the CWOs the meetings consisted of "Good morning. Anybody got anything? No? Have a good week. See you around the hangar." Awesomeness.]

But I swear, if the world could do just one thing like I ask it, it would be to stop letting people waste my time.

Life's too short and we all have better things to do.

[And yes, that includes ranting on blogs. So there.]

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tsuyazaki Junior High School Bunkasai 2008 - The Video.

About 15m. [C'mon, I cut that down from an eight hour day. You know you want to watch it. The music is good. Um, except the part where I sing.]

The wife occasionally gets the cooking bug...

I blame my OCD viewing of Iron Chef America and Throwdown! with Bobby Flay.

And when she cooks, her inner Southerner comes out. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach, and biscuits.
From 2008-10-26

My plate - the Basics.
From 2008-10-26

Sandy's - Advanced.
From 2008-10-26

Tasty goodness, all around.

Pepsi White: Pepsi & Yogurt Flavor.

It was not good. [Think liquid cotton candy/sugar.]
From 2008-10-26

But I had to know.

Training 201-203/T2 54-56.

201/54 - Lower body wkout/6 meals/2L water
202/55 - Rest/Free day
203/56 - 20m cardio/3 meals/3L water

Inspiration: - Over 40 Transformation Of The Week - Over 40 Transformation Of The Week - Uschi Stokes!:
"Name: Uschi Stokes
Age: 40
Weight: 135 lbs
Body Fat: 27%

Age: 43
Weight: 120 lbs
Body Fat: 10%

Invasion of the Foreigners. [Other foreigners. I don't count. Because I said so, that's why.]

So last week, at my Jr High and one of my elementary schools, we had a whole gaggle of gaijin/gaikokojin/furriners visit. They came over on the Fullbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program. About 16 folks here in Japan to, well... this is easier: IIE.ORG:
"The Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund (JFMF) Teacher Program, sponsored by the Government of Japan, provides American primary and secondary school teachers and administrators with fully-funded short-term study tours of Japan. The program is designed to increase understanding between the people of Japan and the United States by inviting U.S. elementary and secondary educators to visit Japan and share their experiences with fellow Americans upon their return. JFMF participants travel to Japan with other outstanding educators, learn about Japanese culture and education, and return to implement a self-designed plan to share their knowledge and experience with their students, colleagues and community."
Sadly, it appears as if this is the last year of the program... budget cuts strike again.

Anyways, they were all nice enough, and students and teachers at my schools were on good behavior for the visits. I was particularly delighted at the number of students who tried out their English with them. And what's more, I was kind of pleased with myself with the amount of "translating" I could do between them and the kids/other teachers and the questions I could answer. Apparently I've been learning. Who knew?

But the cool thing of the visit is that the Jr High put on a presentation. And since I knew it was coming, I was finally able to bring my camera and snap some photos I've been trying to get for a while, namely of the Judo and Kendo clubs.

Invasion of the Foreigners.
From 2008-10-22

I actually helped both the Principal and the Student Council President with their English welcome speeches. Here's the SCPresident cheerfully [she does everything cheerfully] busting out her speech. She did really great.
From 2008-10-22

The kids all did an encore performance of their Bunkasai music numbers.
From 2008-10-22

Then the kendo club took the floor for their demo. You have to love country that armors up children and trains them to smack each other with heavy wooden clubs. My kind of country.
From 2008-10-22

From 2008-10-22

From 2008-10-22

And a bit of kendo video [20s]...

And then it was time for the Judo club. I looooove the Judo club. I actually worked out a couple times with them last year before injuries waylaid me. They were awesome. One of the kids in the club is the nephew of an English teacher Sandy taught with way back when she was on JET and taught at Genkai HS. Another was one of the kids who who did a NZ homestay this past summer. She's easily one of the nicest, coolest and best natured kids I've met in the past few years. Plus she likes English and Judo. Bonus. And really, all the kids in Judo now [now that some of this year's 3rd graders have stopped practicing with them] are really great kids. And I've been trying forever and a day to get pics of one of their demos, but I've either forgotten my camera or been at other schools the last 4-5 times they've demo'd. So, I was kinda happy to finally get some of these shots. Long live Judo.
From 2008-10-22

From 2008-10-22

From 2008-10-22

From 2008-10-22

From 2008-10-22

From 2008-10-22

Bunkasai at Tsuyazaki Jr High.

Bunkasai/Culture Festival time at my Jr High last weekend. Much like everything else in Japan, this was prepared for at length, for about two weeks.

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders all put together plays, musical performances, art, sculpture and other artistic whatnots.

Art from the special ed students.
From 2008-10-18

The first graders put together nature related art/displays.
From 2008-10-18

From 2008-10-18

I still don't track exactly what yakiniku has to do with it though.
From 2008-10-18

And of course, origami. Those are all origami cranes/tsuru. The kids were folding them forever. I did one and it was horribly complex.
From 2008-10-18

The 2nd graders make posters and presentations from their week of on the job training out in the working world a month or so back.
From 2008-10-18

Some particular cuteness was brought by the kids who worked at the local yochiens/kindergartens.
From 2008-10-18

From 2008-10-18

Others worked at local shops.
From 2008-10-18

Or with the local firefighters/rescue folks.
From 2008-10-18

Nursing/old folks care/healthcare.
From 2008-10-18

And everybody works on paintings.
From 2008-10-18

I don't know why but I loved this one.
From 2008-10-18

But the big shindigs of the day are the plays put on by the 3rd graders in the gym.

The opening ceremonies. Yes, those are capes. [Japan is awesome.]
From 2008-10-18

And synchronized dancing, of course. It's not Japan unless there's sychronized dancing.
From 2008-10-18

This year's plays included something about a mouse school...
From 2008-10-18

...a bank robbery/hostage standoff...
From 2008-10-18

...a re-working of the Cinderella/Snow White/Sleeping Beauty stories...
From 2008-10-18

[The girl playing Cinderella is one of my favorite kids. And yes, those are the dwarves. With Cinderella. I told you it was a re-working.]
From 2008-10-18

[Special effect of the day. One teacher + one student + one desk = one horse. Wish the pic was less blurry.]
From 2008-10-18

...and a crime/missing money story. [You can tell by the fedora.]
From 2008-10-18

As always, I only half understood the plays, language barrier and all. Though understanding incrementally more at each year's bunkasai is kinda fun.

Lunch break!
From 2008-10-18

About 4-5 kids did New Zealand homestays in August, and made a presentation as well. Why no, I have no idea how they got illegally downloaded and copied songs from New Zealand for their presentation. Why do you ask?
From 2008-10-18

Added bonus, the kids who went to NZ are, generally speaking, some of my favorite students. Doesn't hurt that they, you know, actually are interested in English and foreign cultures. Great kids.
From 2008-10-18

From 2008-10-18

Also at lunch, the PTA runs a bazaar/sale. While I didn't score anything as cool as last year's Hawaii Kona coffee for 100yen, I did score a 100yen 'Best of' Marvin Gaye CD. How cool, yeah? Plus some reg coffee/mac n cheese/etc, etc...
From 2008-10-18

You know, the brass band is good, but usually their music selection is a bit... laconic. But this year they were jamming pretty hard. Swinging, moving, jazzing and even, dare I say it, a little bit funky. I was a toe tapping white boy. They were really, really good.
From 2008-10-18

From 2008-10-18

And the kids this year, first time since I've been here, all had choral performances. All classes did a separate pieces, and then the whole student body had a number.
From 2008-10-18

And then... tremble... the teachers did a couple songs. Including me and my no-understanding-singing-phonetically self. [Hey, if it was good enough for Nat King Cole...] But I didn't mangle it too badly, I don't think. Pretty fun.

Not the best pic, but I'm the only shaved head foreigner, so you should be able to spot me.
From 2008-10-18

And then... the closing ceremony. Which this pic does no justice. Though I did snag a couple good moments in the vid [that I'll throw up online once I finish putting it together.]
From 2008-10-18