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(no subject) [Jan. 26th, 2009|07:10 pm]
Vacation pictures have been up for a bit...I tried Google's Picasa this time.  Please look!


(hint: to go chronologically, start from Taipei, at the bottom!)

For no real reason, my top 3 movies from last year:

1. Dark Knight
2. Gake no Ue no Ponyo

yay/nay?  Although I guess you guys haven't seen Ponyo yet.

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(no subject) [Jan. 6th, 2009|05:52 pm]
Well, that was a hell of a vacation.  Less idyllic, less predictable, more stressful, less expensive, slightly less enjoyable, and probably more or less as memorable as I hoped.

There's probably not much use in doing a rundown of all the places I went and things I did, because that would get long and tedious.  Pictures will come soon, hopefully this weekend.  Maybe not on my usual website, because a bit of perspective has made me realize that that website is a piece of shit.

Winter vacation by the numbers...

16 days

3 countries

4 currencies

5 flights

6 cities

4 painfully long bus trips

2 World Heritage Sites

10 (at least) significantly memorable dining experiences

2 good friends made

1 good friend not unmade

2 countries I would like to go back to someday

1 country I would not

1 hell of a trip
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[nerdy stuff] [Nov. 10th, 2008|10:02 pm]
Japanese people really love their trains.  The 0-type shinkansen, which is the original train that debuted when the shinkansen system was opened in 1964, is finally being retired at the end of this month.  JR set up a special commemorative site to celebrate the passing of this legendary train.  Be sure to check out the "special movie" after the intro, set to a touching song about the "future you gave to us":


Personally, while it may not be as efficient, aerodynamic, or technologically advanced as the new models, I think that, for looks, it has a classically simple and awesome style that beats the pants off every other shinkansen, save the unholy 500-type.
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seasonal update [Nov. 9th, 2008|11:00 pm]
Time for the obligatory seasonal update.

In case you missed it on facebook (not that I would hold that against you), I broke up with my girlfriend a few weeks ago, after 9+ months.  The reasons were complicated, as they usually tend to be with this kind of thing, but to put it simply: she was thinking about the future more than I was, and the fact that I couldn't feign a substantial desire to get married to her someday made her too uneasy.  She felt there was no point in continuing the relationship if there was a good chance we might just break up a year from now, so we both reluctantly decided it made the most sense to end it now.  We both still liked each other a lot, so it was hard.  Even though it happened far sooner than I expected, I know it was the right thing to do, so I don't have any regrets.  Still have a bit of the ol' loneliness, though.  So it goes.

The Obama thing made me very happy, but I'll avoid going into it too much here because it's all been said before.  In a nutshell: I feel pride in my country and its people, and hope for the future of my country, the likes of which I've never felt before.  It's a good thing!

One of my JTEs at school collapsed a couple weeks ago and was rushed to the hospital...turns out he's completely brain-dead, and will never be coming back to consciousness.  He was a bit of a cantankerous guy, but was a good man and helped me out many times since coming here, so I owe a lot to him.  He will be missed.  In the meantime, because there is no substitute teacher system in this lovely and backwards country, the rest of the English teachers at school, including me, are doubling their workloads and driving themselves nuts taking over all his classes, and combining some other classes to make ends meet, until another English teacher can be found.  Teaching an English writing class of 70+ 16-year olds by myself is FUN.

(actually, it kinda is)

This year, as every year, I've been working closely with a few third-year students who want to study English at college, to prepare them for their entrance interviews.  I'm working with far fewer than usual this year for some reason, and of the 2 that I've put a significant amount of work into so far, both made it into the school they were aiming for.  I may not be making much of an impact on the class of 280 students as a whole, but I know I made a very big, very positive impact in the lives of those 2 girls, and no matter the number of students, this remains one of the most rewarding parts of my job.

Looking forward to winter vacation!  A good, long break from everything will definitely be in order.
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(no subject) [Oct. 12th, 2008|08:56 pm]
Can't say no to a food meme!

Read more...Collapse )
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Winter vacation~ [Sep. 26th, 2008|08:14 pm]

I've made the reservations, and am now finalizing the general outline for this winter vacation. For 17 days, my friend and I are going to Taipei, Vietnam, and Cambodia. The next couple weeks will be spent pouring through overpriced Lonely Planet guidebooks. If you've been to any of these places, and have recommendations, please let me know!

Tomorrow is the annual sports festival at school, which is always good fun. Looking forward to busting it out in the teacher vs. student relay race, and dancing with my favorite 3rd-year girls during the Folk Dance. I'll spare you guys the pictures this time, because I think they're getting redundant for everyone but me!
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picture/video update! [Jul. 21st, 2008|05:16 pm]
Time for another update...
The major events this time were the School Festival at Kanon, and my team's appearance in the prefectural high school baseball tournament.

The pictures, as always, can be found here: http://www.heavymetaltotoro.com/

The videos can all be found here, at my YouTube user page: http://ca.youtube.com/profile_videos?user=chibitotoro

There are three videos from the school festival, and two from the baseball game. I'm especially happy with how the videos from the baseball game turned out, and of course I think there are a lot of good pictures throughout. Please check it all out, and leave me any feedback you have!
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(no subject) [Jul. 16th, 2008|11:38 am]
Posting from my new iPhone!
I took the day off last Friday to go buy the hottest new thing in Japan's crazy cell phone market. It's actually cheaper than most phones here, and having it makes me the envy of all my friends and students...everyone is obsessed with this thing!

The verdict: it's sleek and awesome, and it makes doing mundane cell phone things enjoyable. There is one huge problem though, something that most American owners will never notice: the Japanese text input system is HUGELY flawed.
Typing in the phoenetic kana alphabet and converting to kanji as you go should be instantaneous, and it is on any Japanese phone. But on the iPhone, there is a significant delay before the suggested kanji pop up in a menu, and suffering through that delay for every word you type is a gigantic chore. What's more, the phone will occasionally slow to a crawl when you're trying to type, and when that happens, even entering kana produces a mammoth delay. At those times, the frustration is indescribable.

Ever since the first iPhone came out last year, people have been trying to guess how the iPhone will sell here. There's definitely been a lot of excitement for it, but it lacks many features that come standard on almost any phone, and that Japanese people use all the time (TV, the ability to use it to pay for things at stores and pay on transit systems, a 5+ megapixel camera, etc.). But in actuality, the biggest dealbreaker will be when they pick one up in a softbank store, and realize that they can't type emails at the speed of light, like they can on any other phone. Apple needs to release some kind of software update to improve the Japanese input system, and they need to do it fast, before word mouth destroys the iPhone's chances in Japan.
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new pics! [May. 25th, 2008|09:46 pm]
Another solid 2 months without an entry...sorry! But nothing really out of the ordinary has been going on recently. New school year, new classes, new students. So far, this year's new bunch doesn't look quite up to par with last year, but there are obviously a lot of good kids in there. I know some of them pretty well already, and look forward to getting to know more over the coming months. Towards the end of June we have the school festival, so things are going to start to get busy soon with preparations. My ESS club is planning on dressing me up as Captain Jack Sparrow for the Pirates exhibit that they're putting together...I'll let you know how that turns out.

Anyway, now that I finally have a new and stable computer, I put together some new photo galleries and uploaded them. Included in this batch: sakura all over the place, Kana and I, botanical gardens, a day trip with Japanese friends, and a fun field trip with my third-year students. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on them, as always!

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pictures & video [Mar. 30th, 2008|09:25 pm]
[music |Trans-Siberian Orchestra - A Last Illusion]

So, the site has been updated with new pictures. First off is graduation, including both the regular and part-time ceremonies. Also included are pictures of the girls' volleyball tournament at my school's spring class match, which managed to entertain me for two entire afternoons.

Another recent school event was the announcement of the high school entrance exam results. All the junior high school students who had taken our school's entrance exam came to the school on a weekday afternoon. It's a very tense, emotional moment when the board with the results is unveiled. That moment is probably the single most important moment in those kids' lives up to now. Having seen a lot of anime and Japanese shows/movies over the years, I know how often this topic, and indeed the unveiling moment, shows up. I thought you all might find it interesting to see what it looks and sounds like at a real school, so check out the pictures on the site, and head on over to YouTube to see the video of the 2008 Entrance Exam Results Announcement at Kanon High School.

What's that, you want to see more hardcore video footage from the streets of Hiroshima?? You got it!!! I have a few videos that I meant to upload to youtube a while ago, but never got around to. First, those of you who check my photos regularly may remember an update from a couple months ago that included pictures of Gachapin, a fuzzy green guy, making an appearance at the grand opening of a karaoke club downtown...corresponding photos can be found here. Well, as part of his appearance he performed a pretty intense air guitar, and I have the video to prove it! Check it out, he's hardcore.

And finally, for those of you who appreciate the glimpses of everyday life here, I've got a ramen video for you. While having dinner at Gaba Ramen, where my friend Oga works, I took a video of him making a couple bowls. Corresponding pictures can be found in the new batch, video here.

That's all for the videos...the most recent gallery of pictures is from the weekend trip that Kana and I took to Nagoya. Yes, it includes a few better pictures of her and I, as well as shots of the city and a cute dolphin show!!!!! so check that out too.

The photo page, as always, can be found here:

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