Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Two random stories.

So, last week, young Shintaro comes in and starts crying when his mother tells him, "Enjoy class, see you in forty-five minutes or so, goodbye!" (Shintaro is around 5 years old.) He continued crying as one of the teachers carried him upstairs to the Kids Classroom. I was in there, setting up the VCR to run a Richard Scarry ABCs video that we play for students who come early. Shintaro continued to bawl, until he came into the room and saw a) the video starting, and b) me. Within seconds, he had stopped crying and was animatedly discussing the merits of the tape with me.

"Hakuru wa mike da!"
"Yes, that's right, Huckle is a calico cat."

The week before, a parent brought in her young daughter to sign her up for English classes. As part of this process, we brought her up to participate in a class. She started crying for her mother. (Not surprising...taken away from her mother in a really strange place...) Anyway, her mother came up and sat with her outside the door of the classroom, occasionally trying to get her to go in (iyada! iyada!).

I was also outside the classroom, as I was to read a story (the Three Little Pigs) during the last part of class. I noticed that the little girl was starting to look at me curiously -- who is this big, strange-looking guy? I sat down and showed her the book, and she stopped crying and ran over to look.

"This is a pig!"
"Kobuta da!"
"Hai, kobuta da, ne? Kobuta wa eigo de "pig." One, two, three!"
"Wa-n, chiuu..."

At that point, one of the teachers in the room stuck her head out and asked me to hold it down, as the kids in class could hear me and wanted to see what I was doing. (oops!)

Monday, March 21, 2005

More information on the earthquake in Kyushu yesterday

More information can be found at The Japan Times Online. Although my apartment shook for over 30 seconds, there was no real damage here. Fukuoka Prefecture is about 400 kilometers away.

They just showed some amazing footage on the news, of an office building losing about 180 windows as the quake hit. (This building was otherwise unaffected. It's an older building, and the window glass was held in with a solid caulk instead of the more flexible rubberized material they use now.)

In the video, you can see the quake starting, and after about five seconds, all the windows of this building start to fall. The six or seven people on the sidewalk below run for cover as best they can. Miraculously, no one was injured there. (So far, only one person has died from quake-related injuries.)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

What a way to start the day

So, I was on the phone with a friend in the states, discussing how best to get a new computer, when the room starts shaking...

Click here for a picture of the affected area.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

That Sting concert from back in January...

Well, I promised to write of the Sting concert. It's been a while--sorry! I've been very busy...

Anyway, the concert was GREAT! From the first song, we were on our feet, yelling and screaming. Well, at least I was yelling. I think the people around me were somewhat surprised. It didn't take long for everyone to follow suit, though.

We stayed on our feet for the entire concert. Fortunately, I was in the second-to-last row on the floor, so I didn't block too many people from seeing. Even though it was near the back of the hall, it was still a great seat -- I don't think that this place held more than 9000 people. . .

I have this interesting habit lately of buying Sting's latest studio album, then not really listening to it all that much, until I see Sting perform it live on tour. It's kind of an expensive way of getting into a CD, but it's certainly a HELL of a lot of fun.

Anyway, Sting performed a wide range of his stuff, and I sang along to a lot of it. So did a lot of people. The first thing we heard was an instrumental from the song "A Thousand Years." Then the lights kicked up, the video screens flashed the word "love" in various languages, the band swung into "Send Your Love," and we all jumped to our feet.

This time around, it seemed that they did a lot more with synchronized video stuff than I've seen at Sting concerts previously. (I've seen three, now: The Mercury Falling tour, the Brand New Day tour, and this latest "Sacred Love" tour.) Several songs had videos in time with the music. For example, the song "Never Coming Home" had a video of a room empty of everything but a chair, and a woman sitting in it; as the song progressed, the woman started dancing. "Sacred Love" had a couple of women doing a sexy dance in time with the song.

One 90-minute set, two half-hour encores, and MAN did my feet hurt. Worth it, though. I picked up a tour t-shirt and program, in the hope that I would have souvenirs that showed that I saw Sting in Japan. Alas, the only shirts that were in my size were printed with the American tour itinerary, and the programs were all in English. Oh, well.

Standout memories:
"Roxanne" segueing into "Wrapped Around Your Finger" for a verse. (Been a while since I heard that one)
Sting doing his usual "Roxanne" singalong bit, and me seeming to be the only one singing along
Me totally confusing the Amnesty International volunteers -- westerners, all of them -- by speaking to them in English
Everybody singing along to "Englishman in New York"

Photo Album update

Hey, I've updated my photo album, and it's over two months early! (^_^;

I just put up sixty pics taken while Scott was here. There are pictures of 境港市 (Sakaiminato City, where I live) and 松江市 (Matsue City, the closest big city to here) in this update. Matsue City is actually in Shimane Prefecture, the next prefecture over from Tottori, so Scott actually made it to two different prefectures that tourists don't often see. (Hence the name of the new photo album, "Scott goes off the beaten path.") I haven't added descriptions to the photos yet, but I'll get to that as soon as I can.

You can take a look at my photo album here.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Food, Glorious Food...

Scott Fritchie, developer and maintainer of the glorious empire, came to Japan last week on a business trip. He found the time to come down to Sakaiminato for a visit.

We've been to a number of very good restaurants in the past couple of days.

I don't think he'll need to eat again for the next week....

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Test post


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Guide for Americans to the Canadian National Anthem

From a post on the Straight Dope Message Board, written by Polycarp:

There are only eight lines to the Canadian National Anthem, but they make them do a lot of work.

The one line that isn't repeated that you need to know is:

The true North, strong and free

That one has to be belted out.

Otherwise, you work with four short passages that together make an iambic pentameter line:

'For thee,' 'O Canada,' 'on guard,' and 'we stand.'

These are sung together in various orders during the song, the order apparently being determined by flipping a loonie three times before commencing singing.

The actual lyrics are

O Canada, mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm...and
Mmmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm...and
Mmmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm...ard
Mmmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm...ard
Mmmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm mmmm, the true North, strong and eee
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!

It is inadvisable to sing, 'O Canada, I have an infected gland' as someone trying to remember the actual words may hear you.

Alternatively, sing portions of the Marsellaise to the 'O Canada' tune, and haughtily explain to anyone who looks askance at you that you are 'singing the French lyrics; don't they support bilingualism?'