Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bored at Work: Photo Booth Fun

1. Turn around for a second, and this is what happens.
2. ひげそった方がいい.
3. The New Imholtes.
5. One of my basketball boys, ready to jam.
6. Crooked smile.
7. Nobu, chillin'.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Is John Tesh for real?

It really seems like he is. It almost doesn't seem real, but I guess there are actually people like this. Check out the dueling violin/guitar solo at the 2:40 mark.

I'm on a Japanese Radio...Part 2 + Morning Session Gone Awry

It looks nice, but...

It was as big as a thimble. It would tease like it might break, then wait all the the way til the rocks, where you see the white water. We waited maybe 10 minutes for a set to roll through, and it never did. It's always good to get up early, even for a shitty cold surf, but we couldn't even pull that.

Ok, so, here's the audio for my radio appearance. Basically, the guy goes around and checks out the cafeterias of school. Here's the parts with me in it, and the situations:
  1. (1:00) Introductions
  2. (2:00 - 2:42) He asks my name, I tell him. He asks how old I am, I tell him. He asks if I know what イケメン is, I say yes.
  3. (3:08 - 3:31) He asks what I like on the menu, I say katsu curry.
  4. (6:32 - 7:00) We thank everyone for coming, do a cheer.
  5. (9:00 - 9:42) They talk about how cool I am.

That was basically it. Pretty cool how professional it came out.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ball in Japan: Random Funny Basketball Pics, and Championship Afterparties

It feels good to win. My team, the G Suns, got our first C-class championship for the past...I think 5 years yesterday. We had a pretty good couple of games (excluding my shooting foul on the dude taking a 3 with a minute left and us up 5), and we've got a bunch of pics to prove it. (I told the guy who takes the pics I wanted ALL of them...and he came through, in spades).

I would make fun of myself if I wasn't me.

Don't act...this one is actually pretty smooth.

No look. This is my captain and point guard, 竜二, (Ryuuji).

大輔 (Daisuke) pullin' his best Kyle Korver impression.


This was a smooth pass.

I got it.

信吾 (Shingo) gettin' rocked.

No and 1 here.

Over the head...if you don't believe, look at the eyes.

There are a lot more pics, if you go on facebook I have a bunch of them up. But yeah, it was a good time. So, move on to later that night, at the afterparty.

The 'chip. Why it's next to the Minnie Mouse ears I don't know.

Rockin' Kimchee Nabe and watchin' the game.

Well, some of us were at least.

Glorious victorious.

Actually, there was cause for celebration this night. 信吾 and his girlfriend (the guy in the black jacket sitting under me and the girl on his right), announced they were getting married and their baby is due in February! He doesn't look too happy about it right here, but it was definitely a good time.

Until next time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Donut Incident

A snapshot of the interoffice goings-on I deal with everyday.

Today, my JTE (Japanese Teacher of English - basically the person I work with everyday), 中田先生 (Nakata Sensei) was acting a little funny. During second period, out of nowhere, she's like, 'Do you want a donut? I'm going to buy a donut. You wanna come?'. I was a little surprised by the suddenness of the question, but said yeah, I want a donut, but I don't want to go all the way to the store to get one. Get me a donut with cream in it...

First, let me explain. There were three things I was concered about when thinking about the donut I was (or wasn't) about to get:
  1. The donut store is pretty far from school, it would probably take 15 minutes by bike to get there.
  2. The bikes are right in front of the school's front office, meaning if you were to try and leave campus, everyone in that office would be looking straight at you.
  3. If she were able to obtain the donuts, what would be her explanation for holding a big donut box as she walked through the hallways at 930 in the morning?
Come back from class, and this is sitting on my desk.

Those are staples at the top.

Apparently, 中田先生 was able to get out and return undetected, and before she had left, had prepared paper and stapler to solve the 'walkingthroughthehallwaywithadonutbox' problem. Smiling, I opened the package...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Do you wanna be good, or Good?

Last night, I had practice with my area team. I'm on two area club teams, and for a while, because I had gotten fat, I only ran with one of them, the G Suns. These are the older, more relaxed, everyone gets a shot guys. I like playing with them obviously, but they lack the competitive edge that I like to play with sometimes. Little by little, I've been returning to my pre-getfat skills, and with that return, I have started to play more and more with my other team, the Hailars. (Don't ask me what it means, the captain doesn't even know). These guys can ball. They play hard, and are pretty competitive and are on the cusp of making the all-Japan national amateur tournament every year. They are also unbelievably faggy with their calls. If they ever miss a shot, it was a foul. The games usually shake down like this:
  • Two teams, Hailar members against others (I'm usually on the others team)
  • Game starts
  • People feel each other out, get loose
  • Time running out, still a close game
  • Things get physical
  • 'いてっ', or 'itte', which means 'Ouch, that was a foul' in Japan.
  • Free Throws (!?!?) ensue
Don't get me wrong, when a foul happens, I call it, if it is really easy to see. I am a little like this guy, though, in that I like to let it go (without groaning), for the sake of the flow of the game. For these guys, that has nothing to do with it, it's all about using every single possible avenue to win the game. These guys call travels on the other team with the utmost authority, three second calls happen 5 times a game, and if a guy catches a ball with the possibility of being saved, they start walking down court cuz they know it's out already.

Last night, I couldn't stand it. I didn't call anything for myself, but fouled the shit out of them every time I had to take a foul. If they are going to call a foul, it may as well be a foul. Which leads me to the question: Would you rather be good: win games at all costs, make every call, irritate your opponents into losing; or be Good: play your game, for better or worse, give and take calls as they come, try to beat the guys who are good by being Good, even with all the calls that come against you?

I, most definitely, without question, would rather be Good.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I'm on a Japanese Radio...

* if no one gets the title, check this

The other day at our morning meeting, the principal told us that a local radio station was coming by to survey our students and maybe some teachers at lunch. I didn't think too much about it, but it did seem like fun, so I made a point to eat early so I could check them out lunch. It turns out that they had wanted to talk specifically to me, and while I was away eating, everyone on campus was looking for me. Crazy stuff. So, heres the link. Once I get audio I will put that up too.

Here's what it says:
On the right, a guy who loves to eat, 34 year old Yasunori san
On the left, from Oahu, Hawaii, 24 year old Clinton sensei

Him and Honey (host in back) are the same age, but even as I look at this photo...I can't see it.

Clinton sensei was reeeaaallly into a book (which seriously you all should read, it kills), and
because he was concentrating so hard on it, he was late to our meeting.

Pretty cool stuff. When (if) I get the Nagoya pictures I will put them up real quick. That's it for now.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Boy

He's been all in my business recently, but it doesn't bother me. Waking up to a wet nose in my face has become commonplace, and I've learned not to read anything when he's in the room, because he will immediately place himself in between my line of vision and whatever it was that I was reading. I also, unfortunately, learned another lesson: after checking his litter box for the third straight day and finding no pee, I began to wonder if there was something wrong with him. As I was beginning to make plans to take him to the vet, a flash. The room with all of his stuff also happens to be the laundry room. Cats usually dig for something when they have to pee right? After careful inspection...I came to find out that he was using my laundry pile. Now, I know though.

This is So Smooth

This makes me happy. The Hinrich one is just ridiculous.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nagoya: Part 1

I'm back from Nagoya, and what a trip it was. Right now, the only aftereffects I have are the itchy legs from the stealth mosquitoes by the river, and the residual frog in the throat that comes from drinking more alcohol than water throughout a day and sleeping (thanks Nick). I'm still waiting for some of the pics, so I'll divide this into part 1 and part 2.


Nick Riley, flossin'.

Nagoya for the most part was a much nicer city than I had been led to believe. My friend, 山口さん, told me that most girls in Nagoya were 'ぶさいく', and this had been seconded by another friend, who told me the women there were very...'stylish'. That turned out to not be the case, Nagoya just gets a bad rap in the Japanese community it seems.

My camera sucks.

We met up with some other JETs in the area and had some beers. They were mostly newbies on the program, so it was a decent time. Drank a couple of beers, and then Roy, the guy in red, wanted to go for a skate.

The red blur is Roy.

We had some more beers, and got on the train back home, where this dude was leaning all over the door. I wanted to get video, but couldn't. We were getting up early for the next day to go white water rafting(!), so, I'll throw that part on as Part 2. Stay tuned.

Dude was tired.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'm OUT!

Here's what I'm listening to as I get ready to bust out of here...not exactly getupandgo music, but it is definitely smooth.

Jose Gonzalez - Hand On Your Heart

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nothin' Much

Me and Lena went exploring in Maebaru yesterday and I took this.

I'm heading off to Nagoya for the long weekend to hook up with Mr. Nicholas Riley and his lady, Michelle. All day my teachers have been telling me to eat the delicacy there, 味噌煮込みうどん, which apparently, from a friend of mine, is known as 'Japanese Soul Food'. Kinda skeptical, but I'm willing to try it. I'm sure Nick is getting ready to throw down, so I'm drinking lots of water to try and prepare the body for the massive amount of alcohol that is going to be consumed. (Not sure if it's a valid strategy or not...and I've been thirsty recently anyways).

This week has been a pretty good one. My kids have tests tomorrow and half of next week, which means I'm pretty much free until next Thursday. It's hard to study Japanese only for Japanese, so I've been reading two Japanese books, well one book, and one manga. It's pretty cool.

This manga is hilarious. You can tell the author actually played ball before. AND(!), how is this...

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar makes an appearance!

And, for a challenge, I'm reading this...Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone!

Here's what a page looks like...luckily, if I don't know a kanji, the hiragana is on the side so I can look it up.

I've learned some pretty cool words too, through this book. For example:
  1. 嗜める (tashinameru) - to reprove, to chide
  2. 急降下 (kyuukouka) - nosedive
  3. 魔法 (mahou) - magic, sorcery
So, I'll try and get some pictures up from Nagoya after the weekend. One more day!

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Broken Window Theory, Reversed

(This post may take some of your time.)

A couple of years ago, I read Malcolm Gladwell's book, 'The Tipping Point', and was really struck by one idea, because it made so much sense to me, The Broken Window Theory. Basically, the idea is that if no else gives a shit, then why should I? One small disorder invites more and more disorder. If no one else thinks its important enough to fix that window, to give value to where I live and who I am, then why should I think anything of myself? It's a real easy concept to grasp, but a real powerful one too, I think.

The reason I bring it up, is because, after living a while in Japan, I have noticed that if there is a 'broken window' here, it is more often than not 'fixed'. Quickly. That part of Japanese culture really touched me when I came here, how much thought people put into things. Every day, for most of my students, there is a bento waiting on the table for them before they go to school. There's a man at my train station whose job is to keep everything clean...full time janitor. If someone says they're coming to pick you up at 730, they will pull around that corner at 730. It's just a part of the culture. But, again, there is a flip side to it. To a point, this type of attention to detail is good. But, when you have to call two weeks in advance to see if your friend wants to hang out, it gets to be a little much. It is unheard of to call someone on a Saturday night and ask them to go for a drink. Never happens. People spend inordinate amounts of time cleaning streets, bathrooms, parks. Committes are formed, neighborhood watches organized. What this inevitably leads to is a type of mass OCD, everyone incredibly (read: irritatingly) involved in every aspect of every one else's life. Everyone cares though, so it can't be a bad thing right?

Well, for me, sometimes, it is. Living by myself for most of the past six years, I've become decently (read: barely) self-reliant. And I think that this, at times, suffocating attention to detail is what drives so many Japanese to want to leave. Of course, they think, things are good at home, everything's in order, but damn, give me some space.

The person who lives in the city with the broken windows realizes that if he doesn't care about himself, no one will. He steels his will and becomes self-motivated, but also a little too hardened. The person who lives in the immaculate city realizes he doesn't need to worry, things are taken care of, he can relax in the knowledge that other people are there to help. In doing so, he unknowingly forfeits the chance to be able to do it by yourself, to become a self-reliant individual.

That's where I'm at now. How much attention to pay, how much to let slide. How much to pick up one person, and how much to let another person do his own thing.

Here is a video of Bill Strickland speaking at a TED conference a couple of years ago that indirectly relates to what I was talking about earlier. My favorite quote from it is this:
I think that welfare mothers, at risk kids, and ex-steel workers deserve a fountain in their life...It sets an attitude and an expectation about how you feel about people before you ever give them a speech.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Don't Stop Believing

This is just awesome.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

They like it Fresh to DEF!

This has happened more than a couple of times, but it still creeps me out a little. Seeing something's murder played out in front of you, albeit delicious murder, is always a little crazy.

At a dinner for Japan-Hawaii Relations a couple of months back.

Eating out with my sensei and his son after we hit the onsen.

Introducing Lena, the girl who lives on the first floor. We went out to a spot pretty close to our house and saw this.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

He Actually is for real.

After I showed mad people the 'cross' video, and after watching it a hundred times and laughing to myself, I decided to look a little deeper. I found a couple more videos, which are pretty good, but don't have the same shock value as the first. Still hilarious though.

'Triple combo. Be tricky, be explosive with it. Old school cross.'

He also has a pretty professional looking site. I'll be honest, this dude can probably ball. He played D1 at Austin Peay, so he can't suck. But...God DAMN, what a character. On the site it says he has trained NBA players. So, the next time we see the 'stepoutcrossboom' in a game, we know who to thank.

"Going for Broke"

The other day I decided to do a cultural lesson and get away from English a little bit. English is fun and all, but our job is supposed to be a little more dynamic than just explaining the difference between 'light' and 'right'. (Or 'correct' and 'collect'...I did both of those today). So, I decided to do a Hawaii lesson, on Japanese Americans living in Hawaii. Throw in some pidgin stuff, kids get a laugh out of it, and we're good. So, I got caught up doing some research. One thing led to another, look up notable figures, and I come across this line:
One all-Nisei unit, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, went on to become the most decorated unit of its size in U.S. history, having received more than 18,000 individual decorations, including 52 Distinguished Service Crosses and one Congressional Medal of Honor.
Tell me that's not impressive. So, I start looking stuff up. Of course, I knew about Senator Inouye...everyone does. And I had heard about a badass all-Japanese battalion before. But I think the more important stuff though, is deeper. These, these guys were insane. What's even more insane is that more people don't know about them. I went through some of the names on the list, and how they received their Medal of Honors...I was getting goosebumps. Considering the environment in which they were in, (they weren't even allowed to join the military until 1943 because of anti-Japanese sentiment), it's just amazing how much these guys accomplished. (You can watch the whole thing, but the first part is the one about the 442nd).

"You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice, and you've won."

So, that's what I was doing all day. I'm not sure if I'll use it in class, the war is still a touchy subject. But it was good to get lost in history for a little bit, thought I'd share it. And, I lied. That's not what I did all day...