Saturday, April 30, 2005

My favorite weekly website

I think I got this link from my friend, fellow Blogger and fellow ALT Koren...

It's a blog called "Post Secret" and every week they post pictures of Post Cards sent in by real people that divulge some anonymous secret. Many are really interesting and thought provoking. They update the site every Sunday.

You can check it out by clicking Here.


Trivia - Sat & Sun, April 30th & May 1st

In the 1997 film Titanic, who actually drew the picture of Kate Winslet's character wearing the necklace?

Friday's Answer (highlight line below):

Friday, April 29, 2005

Trivia - Friday, April 29th

Which French duo recorded ethereal sound track music for Sofia Coppola's directorial debut The Virgin Suicides in 1999?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
C. He had bad breath.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Izumo Gang

Interview practice with Taisha Sho 6th graders - 14
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

So these 5 people are my best friends in Japan - my compadres and fellow teachers who can sympathize with my struggles and don't compliment me on how well I use chopsticks or speak Japanese. And even tho these people ended up being my friends out of simple geographic happenstance - they're the only other westerners around - I got lucky and they're all really cool people and I enjoy hanging out with them. So it was great fun to have all six of us teaching together.

Left to right they are: Lisa, Mark D., Mark M., Rusty and Dustin. I'll introduce them each individually in the photos below.

One of my great Elementary school teachers, Nagami-sensei, asked me if i could invite some of my friends to Taisha Sho to help his students prepare to interview foreigners at the peace park in Hiroshima on their upcoming school trip. I said I'd ask and to my delight, all 5 agreed to come.

So all 6 of us descended on Taisha Sho on Monday, April 18th and joint taught two combined classes of roku nen sei (6th graders). First, everyone introduced themselves. Some of the ALTs spoke really s-l-o-w-l-y, and I had to mention that these were sixth graders with limited English, not the mentally handicapped. Then, we sang a really fun song involving the days of the week. Then it was on to a group reading of a favorite children's story - "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?"
We each took turns reading one page of the book, which had been replicated on big cards for the kids to easily see. Dustin started us off well, doing voices and making animal sounds, and we're all laughing in the picture above as Rusty asks Mark if that's how an Irish duck sounds. We had a good time just laughing at each other - I'm sure the kids wondered if all foreigners were this weird.

We then split up into groups and the kids asked us practiced questions, like "What is your name?" and "Where are you from" and "Do you like Japan?"
We then asked them easy questions, like "How old are you?" and "What's your favorite school subject?"
They did great and I hope they got plenty of chances in Hiroshima to speak with non-Japanese people.

After we left the elem school, we walked back over to my junior high, where I showed them all around. The next day, one of my JH students came up and asked me if they were my family. Hahahaha :)
But thanks guys - you made it a great day and I really appreciate you helping me out.

Rapt attention from the 6th graders

Interview practice with Taisha Sho 6th graders - 12
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here is our audience and pupils that day - the two classes of 6th graders at Taisha Elementary. They were all used to me by now, as I'd taught them thru most of their 5th grade year, so I had to bring in the "Dream Team" of JETs to show em how it's done.

They're great kids and I'll see them become 7th graders and join me at Taisha JH next April - but boy am I getting ahead of myself.

Mark - the quiet Beatle

Interview practice with Taisha Sho 6th graders - 10
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

So now I'll introduce you individually to each of the five JETs who came to Taisha this day and helped out with the 6th graders.

First up is Mark McEvoy. Now this Mark (there are two of them - pay attention) is from Ireland, which is some little island close to England I think. They talk funny there, but I try not to let that bother me when Mark is letting me watch his Cable TV feed of the English Premiere League.

Mark is the only one of us there that day who is not an ALT. He's a CIR - which stands for Coordinator of International Relations. Which basically means he actually works for his salary, as compared to us ALTs who sing songs and write the alphabet on the board and speak our native tongue to the astonishment or bemusement of those around us.
Mark works at the City Hall in Izumo and has actually met the Mayor - and I'm not talking about Mayor McCheese - who's Irish I think. He translates stuff and interprets and mentally crushes all those in his path with his sardonic wit.

Mark rarely gets to schools at all, so this was a fun day for him too. This picture shows Mark having fun - no really, he's having a grand old time - can't you tell?

Mark is recontracting for a third and final year on the programme - so the Friendship House will stay intact and the nonstop party will never have to end - well, at least not until July of 2006.

Mark is a great guy and he speaks really good Japanese, which you'd know if you could ever get him to say anything. But just insult Arsenal football club, and he'll start talking.... :)

Rusty - he's "dishy"

Interview practice with Taisha Sho 6th graders - 6
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

This is Rusty Kelty, the most Californian Non-Californian I've ever known. He surfs (in Japan) and likes the outdoors, thus combining the Southern Calif and Northern Calif ethos.

Rusty keeps the parties happening at the aptly named Friendship House in Izumo, the apartment building that houses Mark M., Lisa, and Rusty. Always up for a good time, as long as cookies are involved, Rusty will probably see much more of Japan than I ever will - perhaps because he actually leaves his apartment at times and has already found a Japanese girlfriend he fooled into thinking he's actually from California and thus much cooler than he really is.

Rusty actually hails from Vermont, which is famous for nothing apparently, because he tells people he's from Colorado, which at least has a good football team and a decent film festival.

Rusty teaches at 3 of the Junior Highs in Izumo. Lisa teaches at the other three. Neither of them regularly go to elem schools, so this was a fun day for them, mostly becuase we all sang the "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday..." song, which involves a great deal of jumping around.

Rusty's a good guy, and I'm glad he's recontracting as well. He also has an Apple iBook - so I know he's got taste as well as the dashing looks. :P

Lisa - the lone woman

Interview practice with Taisha Sho 6th graders - 9
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

This is Lisa getting up close and personal with her group of 6th graders. Lisa is a Jr High ALT who hails from Ohio in the USA. We try not to hold that against her. Anybody that comes from someplace that begins and ends in the same vowel is usually trouble. Of course most of us come from America.... errr.....

Even tho Lisa is a woman, or so I've been told, we still let her play in all our reindeer games. Lisa keeps us all on our toes with her random observations, her salty language, and her "adventurous" driving. But don't let that biscuit-like flakiness fool you - she has laser focus at times, especially when playing air hockey at the local Sega arcade, where she routinely beats all us he-men with her "tiger-crane" style.

Lisa lived in Shimane before as an exchange student and also speaks pretty good Japanese, or so it seems to me, but how would I know anyway.

Lisa is also re-contracting, simply to keep her crown as Air Hockey Queen. We're all happy cuz she's the only one of us with a car. :)

Mark - charming the lads and ladies

Interview practice with Taisha Sho 6th graders - 7
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

This is Mark DeFusco, or as we call him in Izumo, "The Don."

Mark hails from London, England and speaks with a funny accent, just like my parents.

Mark teaches at only one school normally - the top academic High School in Izumo. So this day was a treat for him, as he had never been to an elem school before.

Always up for just about anything, especially if it involves a trip to the local McDonald's in Izumo, Mark is a good guy to have around - just don't ask him about his favorite movies. :)

Mark is recontracting and will be around next year as well, which is good for all of us, cuz karaoke just wouldn't be the same without the unique song stylings of "The Don."

Dustin signing his life away

Interview practice with Taisha Sho 6th graders - 5
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

This is Dustin Kidd, and he hails from Oregon in the USA. This is his FIFTH year as a JET and his third year in Izumo. After three years, you can only stay on the JET programme if you take on the assignment of teaching solely at Elementary schools, which is what Dustin does. He teaches 1st thru 6th graders at FOURTEEN local elem schools. And even tho this is his last year as a JET, he's staying in Japan. He got a job with a private high school up in Hokkaido, so he's moving in July. He'll have to prepare for harsh winters, as Hokkaido gets more snow than any other part of Japan.

So this day at Taisha Sho was almost routine for Dustin, and he had some good advice for the kids. He can also speak flawless Japanese, which means he was able to communicate with the teachers better than I ever could. :)

The Education System in Japan

This is an article that ran in a recent edition of

I'm still formulating my thoughts on what it says - so I throw it out to you, my good readers, to leave comments or see what you think....


Tokyo Gakugei University Professor Masahiro Yamada says that the educational system no longer provides students with hope.

Addressing the issue of declining academic performance, Yamada claims that even if school education is insufficient, children can still raise their academic ability by studying at home or at a cram school.

What is taking place, he says, is a polarization between students who study and those who almost never do. In the postwar period, through the years of rapid economic growth up until around 1990, a setup existed guaranteeing students that their study and effort would be rewarded, he asserts, and school was a symbol of hope.

According to Yamada's analysis, the system had the following characteristics: (1) School fulfilled the function of shuttling students into employment commensurate with their ability, providing them with future prospects and peace of mind; (2) it served to quell unrealistic hopes; and (3) it gave students the expectation that study would allow them to attend better schools and thus lead to a better life later on.

But the penetration of the new economy brought on by globalization has made the working world unstable, Yamada argues, giving rise to a situation in which the "certainty associated with academic effort" has vanished. In this way, the polarization in expectations has led to a similar gap in motivation, he states, noting that the end result is a polarization in academic ability.

Yamada says that as this is a problem emerging in the "seam" between the domains of school and work, the decline in academic performance will not be rectified only by improving educational content or devising new methods of teaching. (Foreign Press Center)

April 25, 2005

Trivia - Thursday, April 28th

On the set of Gone With the Wind, Vivien Leigh was reportedly reluctant to kiss Clark Gable because:

A. She was married
B. She didn't like his moustache
C. He had bad breath
D. They hated each other in real life

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
A. RuPaul

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, April 27th

Who appeared as a dancer in the B-52's video for "Love Shack"?

A. RuPaul
B. Jennifer Tilly
C. Winona Ryder
D. Lenny Kravitz

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
D. Shirley MacLaine

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, April 26th

Warren Beatty's sister is also an actor. Who is she?

A. Candace Bergen
B. Diane Lane
C. Meryl Streep
D. Shirley MacLaine

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
He dyed his hair to play a stand-in for Richie Cunningham in the Weezer video "Buddy Holly."

Kada-sensei and Yamane-kun and Kendo captain, Tatsuya

Kada-sensei and Yamane-kun and Kendo captain, Tatsuya
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

So my new desk position, as descibed below, now faces the main courtyard of the school, shown here. This photo was shot at the end of the last school year, and shows Kada-sensei, one of my favorite JTEs, and two of my students and fellow kendo teammates - Hitoshi and Tatsuya.

Japanese teachers, especially the younger ones, get moved around alot, so we had nine new teachers at Taisha Chu after spring break, and i had a new kendo coach, and two new JTEs (Japanese Teachers of English). Which means that other teachers left, including Kada-sensei. But we'll stay in touch via email and he lives close by, so we hope to watch the upcoming Japanese national soccer team matches for qualifying for the World Cup next year together.

You'll notice in this pic that the name of the school is written in English in large letters above the genkan entrance. I wonder how many of my students could write "Taisha Junior High School" if I asked them too, even tho they pass under it everyday. :P

New desk position @ TJH

New desk position @ TJH
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

So they moved my desk while I was in America over Spring Break. I now sit with the ichi nen sei teachers and instead of facing the main door into the teachers' staff room, I now face the window. Hard not to daydream a little at times... :)

REMINDER: if you want to see any of the pictures on my blog in a slightly larger format, just click on the photo itself and it will take you to my photo album on

Monday, April 25, 2005

Trivia - Monday, April 25th

Why did director Spike Jonze become a redhead in 1994?

Weekend's Answer (highlight line below):
Sally Field

First Day for new Ichinensei at Taisha Chu

First Day for new Ichinensei at Taisha Chu - 12
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here is the board in one of the 7th grade homerooms, decorated by the 8th and 9th graders, welcoming the new 7th graders to Taisha Junior High.

The board says "yookoso" next to Ampanman, which means "Welcome." It also says "Omedetoo" across the top, which means "congratulations," and "we love Taisha Chu."

The opening ceremony for the new 7th graders was a formal assembly in the gym with their parents and local dignitaries in attendance. Each students' name was read off and then a few of the students made short speeches after Kocho sensei (the principal) made his welcome address.

We have 4 classes of 7th graders this year, as opposed to the 5 we had last year. So a slighly smaller incoming class in total, altho each homeroom has 37 or 38 kids in it, so they're very full classes.

Ichinensei homeroom at Taisha Chu

First Day for new Ichinensei at Taisha Chu - 14
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here is one of the 7th grade homerooms on the first day of classes. They decorated the rooms a bit and even the halls, and had these massive stacks of materials and texts waiting for each student as they came into their new classroom. Their parents also came up to the room with them and listened to a short speech by each homeroom teacher.

Not sure who pays for all these supplies. In addition to all the books, the new 7th graders have to buy a new backpack that says Taisha JH, a new tracksuit for gym clothes, new indoor sneakers and sandals, a new school uniform and other incidentals. I've heard that some of these items can be very expensive.

I sit this year with the ichi nen sei teachers, so I'm suspecting that I'll be involved with 7th grade activities much more than last year, when I sat with the 9th grade teachers.
Of course this year, all the 7th graders know me already from me teaching them as 6th graders at one of the 5 elementary schools I visit. Other than the upperclassmen who are their friends from their elementary days, I'm the only other familiar face at first, so that's kinda cool. I was greeted with shouts of "Jason sensei" by many of the 7th graders as I made the rounds that first week.

close up of stack of texts

First Day for new Ichinensei at Taisha Chu - 13
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here is the huge stack of BRAND NEW textbooks that EACH 7th grader had waiting on his/her desk as they entered their new homerooms after the opening ceremony.

They don't have hand-me-down text books here, like we did in America. They use their books much more here, writing in many of them, and they are all soft covers, which decreases durability but also makes them less heavy in their backpacks.
You can see the one slim volume for English tucked in the middle of this stack. It's not a bad textbook, and I don't mind teaching it, I just wish we could go "off-book" in our classes more and not adhere so strictly to making sure the kids memorize every detail of the book.

Taisha Sho Graduation

Taisha Sho Graduation - 9
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here is the new gym at Taisha Elementary during the 6th grade graduation ceremony.

It was an emotional ceremony for many in attendance since most of these kids have been students at Taisha Sho for 6 years, so they'll miss their younger friends and the staff and teachers as they're now with me at Taisha JH as 7th graders.

At one point, each 6th grader (there were about 50-60 of them) gave a "shout out" to his parents or friends or teachers for taking care of them during their school days and helping them to graduate. Some of the girls could barely get the words out thru their sobs and tears. This pic shows the 6th graders filing out after the end of the ceremony, after they'd gotten their diplomas, while the rest of the student body sung a song on their way out. Glad I went - interesting counterpoint to the much more staid and formal 9th grade graduation I'd attended earlier that week.

After the ceremony in the gym was finished, the two classes assembled in their respective homerooms and each teacher greeted their parents and said something nice about each student and they all received small gifts and then gave a small gift to their parent(s).
After that, all the 6th graders walked out of the school while all the other students lined the halls and cheered and clapped as they filed past.
It was really a cool send off - I'm glad I got to be part of it.

Taisha Sho Graduation - 3 girls

Taisha Sho Graduation - 7

Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Here are three of the sweet 6th grade girls at Taisha Elementary. They are all now at Taisha Junior High with me everyday as 7th graders.

Taisha Sho Graduation - 2 boys

Taisha Sho Graduation - 5
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

These are two of the cool 6th graders from Taisha Elementary after their graduation ceremony. They are both with me now at Taisha JH as 7th graders.

Me and the two 6th grade teachers

Taisha Sho Graduation - 1 copy
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

This is me and the two homeroom teachers (Okamura-sensei & Itoh-sensei) for the roku nen sei last year at Taisha Elementary. This was snapped after the graduation ceremony for the 6th graders.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Trivia - Sat & Sun, April 23rd & 24th

In Punchline, she plays Tom Hanks's lover. In Forrest Gump a mere six years later, she plays his mother. Who is she?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Wil Wheaton

Friday, April 22, 2005

Trivia - Friday, April 22nd

Which star of Stand By Me went on to appear as the much-ridiculed Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, the best of the Star Trek series?

There were multiple choice options to this one on the page-a-day but I'm leaving them off, since it's pretty easy. And the "Best of the Star Trek series" is my own editorial comment. :)

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
"Pac-Man Fever"

Welcome the new teachers enkai

Welcome the new teachers enkai
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

This is a pretty typical drinking and dinner party you would have with co-workers in Japan, normally called an "enkai." This particular enkai was held to celebrate the start of the new school year and welcome the new teachers to Taisha Junior High.

You'll notice we're sitting on the floor and I'm sitting cross-legged while my two co-workers on my left are sitting in "seiza" (sitting with your legs tucked under you). I can sit in seiza for about 10 minutes at a time before all the blood starts to leave my lower body and go numb. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Welcome the new teachers enkai - Taisha JH - 2

Welcome the new teachers enkai - Taisha JH - 2
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Since I don't eat fish, and almost every course that night involved seafood, I decided to take a picture of my tray at the end of the night with almost every course we were served. It's a lot of food spread out over about 2 hours. I had some Pepsi and ice cream that night. I've been to other parties like this one where my hosts, knowing that I don't eat fish, have ordered me a special meal with some beef or noodles. You'd think that my Junior High co-workers, who I spend more time with than anybody else I associate with, could do the same. Hmmmm - this may be the last enkai I go to with my JH staff. We'll see....

Shame too, cuz even though I can barely communicate with most of them, it's fun to see my coworkers in a more relaxed and convivial atmosphere. At least they had Pepsi for me that night, instead of having to drink beer and sake and pretending to like it.

Bullet Train at Shin-Osaka Eki - 1

Bullet Train at Shin-Osaka Eki - 1
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

As part of the 5 hours or so it took me to get from Izumo to Osaka and the Kansai Airport to go home to San Diego for spring break, I got to ride on one of the famous Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet Trains). It was really cool - kinda like being on an airplane - very smooth and you're just flying along - things whipping by the window at incredible speeds. Expensive, but worth it.

Bullet Train at Shin-Osaka Eki - 2

Bullet Train at Shin-Osaka Eki - 2
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Another angle on the "shinkansen" (bullet train).

I rode for only about an hour, between Okayama and Shin-Osaka station, where i transfered to a normal train that was supposed to take me directly to Kansai Airport. But that train stopped about mid journey at a station. I was wearing my headphones and listening to music, a bit oblivious to my surroundings, when I noticed that I was the only person left on the train. I removed my headphones, but of course all the announcements were in Japanese. Still, I got off the one train and walked across the platform to a waiting train, and saw other gaijin(pronounced guy-gin) with luggage, so I figured I must be on the right train. Not sure what happened to the first train I was on, but I did make it to the airport, and only about 15 minutes later than I was supposed to.
I also bumped into another Shimane ALT, named Melanie, at the airport. Turns out she was heading home to California as well on the same Thai Airways flight. What are the odds?? Anyway, it was nice seeing her and catching up a bit. She's got a fun blog/live journal of her own Here.

Octopus for dinner

Octopus for dinner
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Dustin, Emily, Mark D. and I went out to dinner at a local "Italian" restaurant in Izumo a while back. Food was OK, and the salad was really good, but they made some basic mistakes, like putting mayonaise on a pizza. The Horror! :)

Anyway, Mark D. ordered these octopus things for an appetizer and he tucked in and enjoyed the lot. You couldn't pay me to eat one of those, but having finished, Mark said, "Oishii desu ne." (Delicious!)

Trivia - Thursday, April 21st

What song by Buckner and Garcia - about the joys of a certain videogame - reached the Top 10 in 1982?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Loretta Lynn

Me in my Kendo gear

Me in my Kendo gear 2
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Me looking all serious, as befits a warrior of my stature, in my kendo attire. Hahahaha...

Me with my shinai and full kendo armor

Me with my shinai and full kendo armor
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Yes, that's me under the helmet. Doing my best Obi-Wan Kenobi impression at night time kendo practice last Thursday night.

My debut in the full attire. I mostly sparred against Hitoshi, cuz he speaks English well enough to tell me what to do, but I worked out with the team as well. I was EXHAUSTED when I got home - all that stuff is heavy!

A "shinai" is the sword; the stomach protector is called a "do" (pronounced dough); the pants are called hakame; the special shirt is called a doge; the helmet/face protector is called "man"; and the gloves are called "kotei."

This week i got all the different procedures down, so now i can dress and undress myself - lots of knots and even an order that everything goes on and comes off.

2 of my Sho kids at kendo

2 of my Sho kids at kendo
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Two of my super-cool Elementary students from Taisha Sho at Thursday night kendo practice, which allows the local elementary kids who are into Kendo to practice against the more experienced Junior High team members.

Many of the students who join the Kendo team in 7th grade have already been playing kendo for many years at elementary school. So you can see why I'm having difficulty getting the hang of it, considering I'd never even heard of kendo 9 months ago.

Mustang Minds

Mustang Minds
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

Me with Huachen and Kevin, members of the Mustang Minds team and current coach, Coram. MM is an academic trivia challenge - I was the Varsity coach last year at a local high school (San Dieguito Academy) in Encinitas, CA.
I also coached the Academic Decathlon team at SDA, which Kevin and Huachen were also members of. We did well in both events, but this year the Varsity MM team beat every other school in San Diego and became the city Champs. Way to go guys! Omedetoo Gozaimasu!

Dinner at Indigo Joe's

Dinner at Indigo Joe's
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

My niece, Brittany, and I at my last meal with a knife and fork before returning to Japan after spring break.

Funny thing about that night was that I wanted to just have some "American" food, so we went to a local sports bar that has good burgers, fries, steaks, etc. Turns out that we arrived as the last game in the NCAA College BasketBal Final Four was being played, so the place was wall-to-wall people all screaming with each shot. Made for a fun, if somewhat overwhleming, atmosphere.

Easter at Harbor Island

Easter at Harbor Island
Originally uploaded by Jason In Japan.

My sister, Lynda, and her daughter, Britt, at Easter Brunch on Harbor Island in San Diego.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, April 20th

Coal Miner's Daughter was the biopic of what legendary country singer?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
"Respect Yourself"

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, April 19th

What was the name of Bruce Willis' 1987 Top 5 hit song?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Lil' Kim

Monday, April 18, 2005

Trivia - Monday, April 18th

Which rap star was originally known primarily as the Notorious B.I.G.'s girlfriend?

Weekend's Answer (highlight line below):
D. Clavin Klein

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Trivia all updated

OK - all the trivia is now up to date

So now I've got to work on getting a bunch of these pictures I've been taking uploaded and posted.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


Saturday, April 16, 2005

Trivia - Sat & Sun, April 16th & 17th

What brand of designer underwear did Michael J. Fox's character wear in Back to the Future?

A. Joe Boxer
B. Perry Ellis
C. Brooks Brothers
D. Calvin Klein

Friday's Answer (highlight line below):
The Winter Garden

Friday, April 15, 2005

Trivia - Friday, April 15th

What was the name of the Broadway theater where Cats played for eighteen years?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Trivia - Thursday, April 14th

Who was Marla Gibbs' one-monikered costar in the series 227?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
The Jazz Singer

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, April 13th

What was the first film with spoken dialogue?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
A. Iman

I'm Back

So I made it back in one piece and relatively no worse for wear. The trip back to Japan from San Diego is one long day of traveling - about 24 hours straight in various forms of transport.

Tuesday started at 10am local time with a 100 minute car journey from my San Diego suburb of Carlsbad to LAX, where my sister and niece saw me off. Boarded the Thai Airways airplane and was pleasantly surprised to find that the plane was only about 1/2 full, so I got to spread out a bit and take up two seats, which makes it a much more tolerable 12 hour flight.

Flight was uneventful and went smoothly and we landed on time in Osaka at Kansai Airport at about 5:45pm local Japan time on WEDNESDAY. So I’ve already lost most of a day simply due to the time difference. I was too late to take the series of trains that got me to Osaka for my departure, so I was stuck taking the “night bus” from Kobe to my local eki (station) in Izumo. The night bus leaves the Sannomiya Eki in Kobe at 11:30pm for Izumo, so I had about 5 1/2 hours to kill. I hung out in the airport for a while, which was pretty empty since it was a Wed. night. I had to take a 60 minute bus from the airport to Kobe, which cost 1800 yen, about $18. I boarded the bus at 8:10 and was in Kobe by 9:15. I was able to buy my overnight bus ticket to Izumo at the helpful tourist info booth at Kansai Airport, and that cost an even 5000 yen ($50). So it cost me just shy of $70 to get back home, but actually more like $90, cuz you have to add in the 2200 yen i spent on a taxi from the Izumo eki to my apartment. (Had to take the taxi cuz I had two really heavy suitcases with me) This is compared to the almost $140 it cost me to get from the Izumo eki to Kansai Airport in March when I took the three trains, including the shinkansen, the bullet train. So even though the night bus isn’t much fun, it’s way cheaper - which is a good thing.

The night bus was also only about half full, so we all spread out and settled in for the 6 hour journey. Even though it doesn’t actually take 6 hours to drive from Kobe to Izumo, the bus still arrives at Izumo eki at 6am, because the driver stops a few times just so the bus can keep to the time table. Pretty weird, but most of the passengers just go to sleep, so it really doesn’t matter much. Besides, what was I gonna do differently if I arrived at 5am instead of 6am - I would have gone home and crashed either way.

So after about 24 hours of semi-constant travel, I arrived back at my apartment at about 6:30am on Thursday, April 7th. I left the U.S. on Tuesday, the 5th. Time warp! But jet lag hasn’t been so bad, and I’m back in my regular rhythm already.

Friday, the 8th, was the first day back at work and the first day of the new Japanese school year. We had a small ceremony welcoming back the 8th and 9th graders at my junior high. Monday was the official opening ceremony and the arrival of the new 7th graders, most of whom know me already since I’ve been coming to their 6th grade classes at the various elementary schools I visit. So back to work and teaching. Feels good in a way. I’ll post more about the changes at my Jr. High soon and I hope to post pics of the opening ceremony as well as a few shots of San Diego I took during my vacation. And i should be able to update the trivia this week as well.

I’m glad to be back in Japan. While it certainly doesn’t yet feel like “home” - it’s where I hang my hat for now , so I was happy to get back to my apartment. I look forward to the coming spring and the warmer weather and everything is still new to me since it’s still my first April, May, June and July in Japan. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I am staying here until at least July of 2006 as I recontracted for a second year with the JET program.


Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, April 12th

Which supermodel started a cosmetics line geared toward women from all ethnic backgrounds?

A. Iman
B. Maggie Rizer
C. Naomi Campbell
D. Stephanie Seymour

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Working Girl

Monday, April 11, 2005

Trivia - Monday, April 11th

One of Sandra Bullock's first roles was as the star of a TV show based on what hit film?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Jonathan Richman

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Trivia - Sat & Sun, April 9th & 10th

Which indie rocker served as the musical Greek chorus in There's Something About Mary?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):

Friday, April 08, 2005

Trivia - Friday, April 8th

What was the actual nationality of The English Patient?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
San Francisco

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Trivia - Thursday, April 7th

In what city was the popular mid-'90s TV show Party of Five set?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Christa Miller, who plays Dr. Cox's wife Jordan

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Trivia - Wednesday, April 6th

Scrubs creator/executive producer Bill Lawrence is married to which of the show's regulars?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Trivia - Tuesday, April 5th

What is the name of the restaurant Jennifer Aniston works at in Office Space?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
He filmed a Jaguar commercial using the song.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Trivia - Monday, April 4th

Sting took an unusual measure to promote his song "Desert Rose" in 1999. What was it?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
Chevy Chase

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Trivia - Sat & Sun, April 2nd & 3rd

Which comedian goofed off with Paul Simon in his "You Can Call Me Al" video?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
They killed off his character. On his way home to America, Col Blake was killed in a helicopter crash.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Trivia - Friday, April 1st

How did M*A*S*H creators deal with McLean Stevenson's (Col. Blake) departure from the show?

Yesterday's Answer (highlight line below):
B. The Karate Kid