August 29, 2008

First Private English Lesson

I just taught my first lesson. I could tell from the English used in emails what the woman would be like. It's kind of scary that I can tell someone's background this way just by what kind of broken English they use. Anyways, as I thought, it was a woman retiree who has a habit of learning English just cause, and not really to improve it. But I hope to change that; I would feel pretty guilty if our lessons have no impact on her abilities. She has studied for 7 years at a community center, and is still a bare beginner. Her latest teacher is a Peruvian that speaks English as a second language. So, as you can imagine, we have a long ways to go. I tried to have her read a small section of text (you can see what kind of site I found it on in my shared items today). That didn't work so well; she could hardly read the normal size font, and the words were a few syllables too long for her. I'll have to plan for that sort of thing in the future. She seemed resistant to this kind of book learnin' over all; being at a rather content stage that is probably no different than 7 years ago. I want to see if I can coax her out of her shell.
This is all pretty fascinating to me so far. Next week, I start group classes of old people, half of whom will be like this.
Oh yeah, and I don't know if it will happen every time, but she bought me lunch. Nice! Speaking of food, I bought a convection stove (just one burner but I have an American electric water boiler too so...) and it is fast! I cooked an egg in about 45 seconds this morning (faster than my gas range ever was). Glad I bought it. Maybe with a little more money, I can think about a fridge...

August 27, 2008


So as a typical WASP, I grew up with the stereotype that Asians are with the smarts. But I think what they are really with is the studying. Well, not Japanese kids so much these days, but my fellow language school students, most of whom are Chinese, have been impressing me with their studious natures.
During the summer break, I came in each day to use the nets to find a job (found one by the way! Gonna teach the brains out of those retirees). The other students would come in, but they didn't really use the computers; they just went into the empty classes and studied. And they have been studying ever day after class since we started again on Monday. I'm fairly impressed.
One thing about it, though: they do almost as much talking as studying. In loud voices. I'm thinking maybe studying is a bit of a social activity for them. Well, I guess people of every nationality occasionally make study groups. I remember in college, the beginning Japanese class students made a study group. I wasn't interested, but I was somehow good at Japanese in those days. Should I digress? Okay: I approached the first lesson of that college class in horror, because I could not get it. But we had a video in the language lab that matched the textbook's dialog. I replayed the simple dialog about 40 times. Then it clicked. And I was good at Japanese for a whole semester (at least at regurgitating it--I never thought about grammar in those days). So I didn't need the study group. Then a class conflict left me without Japanese for a whole year and I came into the second class as the worst student of the bunch.
So there is my secret to learning a language: Grock it early. Grock it often. Don't let time elapse between grockings. Or you will be stuck in remedial 1kyu (oxymoron) class, like me, years later.
Or, study like a Chinese person.
Also, I want to learn to read Chinese someday. I don't care to speak it though. Same goes with French. German, I might be able to wrap my tongue around.

August 26, 2008

Adventures in Ignorance

So far, youtubers seem to think I am making a Dragon Ball reference with the pillow. No. You sad, sad people... I thought it was only the Japanese that were unaware of the resemblence of some of their characters to something else, but anime nerds dissapoint me now as well. Irony on top of my satire.
BTW, the pillow didn't stay that way for longer than a satirical skit.

August 20, 2008

Tricky Challenge

Can you read all the writing in this Trick screenshot? I'm taking my fandom to obsessive levels here...
Had a good interview with a group of old folks today. They even payed for my train fare to come, but they still aren't decided about who gets the job. I can't help but wonder if when I sit in on a class this Saturday, I will be next to the competition. That would be awkward.
As awkward as a few minutes ago when the school office lady brought me a laptop to fix. A Korean laptop. I did the F8 trick, but that's about the limit of my powers.

August 19, 2008

"I hate Japan" Days

I was hating Japan yesterday. Because my new bike was stolen. In broad daylight. What the hell, Japan?

August 18, 2008

Still Alive

I'm not one to go long without poppin' out a post, but no nets makes for a lack of inspiration. Well, there is inspiration, but I forget it by the time (day) that I can actually make it to a computer. One of the thoughts that has been swimming around in my head is that the universe conspires to help me, but not necessarily all that hard. Lazy universe. I may have found the perfect job; the interview went great. But I wasn't interviewed by the people who are actually in charge of the money. So I have a good recommendation versus someone else's face time. Nobody has tried to be my student through the teaching website I joined. I lower my fees each day in desperation.

There was some jerky guy that tried to leave a comment on my last post, where I asked for donations if people felt like it. He said that everyone in Japan is rich and that food is cheap. "300 yen ramen in the streets of Tokyo". Let this pauper redress you, friend: People without jobs, people paying tuition, are not rich. This isn't the bubble economy. Second, this weird thing about ramen. First, I have never seen ramen that cheap that wasn't freeze-dried and waiting to be cooked by me. Second, what kind of person lives off ramen? Eating healthy takes a little cash.

But there are tons of little expenses in Japan. For instance, the trains are more expensive here. It doesn't make any sense; a hundred people jammed into the car, and it costs twice as much as the countryside to get anywhere.They must be raking in the profits here to distribute their losses in rural areas is all I can figure. Taken right from the government model, that. And I should know. I'm the engineer on the crazy train to poor town.

August 5, 2008

In for a few million pennies

Finally got a visa yesterday. Had to pay tuition today. "Installments," they said, "why would we do that. All money now please."
I can't get an official job until I have some work permission document. In Fukuoka, there was an international office/library thing with a bulletin board that teachers would use to find students. I haven't seen a place like that yet around here... I would like to charge 3,500 an hour, less 500 if students bring food. 2,000 yen for two peeps at the same time, 1,500 yen for 3. Sound reasonable? Know any potential students? Send them to my town!

filed under: ド貧乏

August 1, 2008

My New Shwanky Bachelor Pad

A notice that I can now buy a 4000 yen stamp for my special foreigner stamp book has arrived. Soon I will be legal Morlock again.