Friday, November 30, 2007

Last Day!

Well, with this post I will have successfully blogged everyday in the month of November. yippee.
Not sure what the point was actually. Several days were bare minimum perfunctory posts. I suppose it takes a modicum of discipline to blog on a daily basis, but bare minimum discipline isn't really something I have trouble with.
I've spent a fair chunk of the early evening watching the local tv station's coverage of a hostage taking situation at a Hilary Clinton campaign office in a neighboring town. That was kind of exciting, even if it does seem to turn out to be more about a troubled man on a bender making some bad decisions rather than anything to do with Hillary herself. She just got on tv and made sure to turn it into a political soundbite opportunity for herself. Par for the course and I expected that from her.
The most interesting event of the day has yet to happen. Since my girl is with me for a couple of weeks while her dad is away, we are taking the opportunity to go check out a Friday night shabbat service at the local temple. I haven't been to temple in years. My girl has never been. Neither has my boyfriend, who was raised Catholic. I think the girl should be able to have the chance to experience what it's about at least once. And I'm a little nervous but also looking forward to seeing what it's like.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Looking Back

I hear myself tell people that I lived in Japan for 12 years, but I swear I don't remember most of it. It seemed like 12 very long years at the time, but now it's pretty much faded into memories of onigiri, convenience stores, discontent and fun nights out with friends. I think that's what I miss the most-- the nights out at Tokaiya in Seta, or any good izakaya, putting down beers and good food with friends after work. Walking home to Kayanoura all buzzed with Mike or Dave. Maybe stopping by the conbini for one last beer to drink beside the lake. That part was good.
The rest of it? I don't know. I spent a lot of time trying really hard and still felt like most of what I did wasn't right or good enough. That's not Japan's fault. There were other ways to approach it. I just wasn't able to do it that way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Unbelievable Idiocy, Cruelty and Cowardice

I read about a 47 year old women who posed as a 16 year old boy to "mess with" a 13 year old girl who lived down the street on some blogs yesterday and today the story is running in the New York Times. The woman created an online personality on MySpace as a 16 year old boy and had her own daughter and the daughter's friends in on the "joke". The online boy became the girl's cyber boyfriend and then broke up with her harshly online. The girl was so distraught by the whole thing that she hung herself in her closet. Overreacting to MySpace nonsense? Yes, of course. But that's what 13 year olds do. They overreact to teenage drama. What I want to know is why a grown woman was so interested in involving herself in that. What makes it even worse is this woman knew the girl had psychological issues (and at 13 who doesn't, really?) and claims she doesn't feel guilty because she heard the girl had tried to kill herself before. (Something that was refuted by the girl's parents.)
I find it crazy that a court could find JT LeRoy guilty of fraud for writing under a pseudonym, but no criminal legal action can be taken against this psycho-mother who apparently got her kicks by tormenting a child while hiding behind a facade on MySpace. I hope the girl's parents sue the shit out of that stupid woman in civil court.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


If your sense of humor has escaped you in the dreariness of November, check out Everyday Normal Guy by Jon Lajoie. Not safe for work or around young children, but it's hilarious.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Keeping In Touch

Yesterday I met up and had a few beers with a couple of former students. We've kept in touch on Facebook and they both live in the area. They've met up for beers before and suggested I join them the next time they got together. It felt kind of weird when I thought about it too much, but not so much once we were there hanging out. I mean, I've certainly spent my fair share of time in bars enjoying good beer and conversation and this really was no different. It's stupid that I can get so hung up on age differences when I never thought it made much of a difference when I was younger.
I won't go out and socialize with students who are still taking my classes, but once they're of legal age and no longer my students I think it's okay. I really do enjoy my students and I get to know the ones who take classes with me for two or three years pretty well. I realize they're going to move on with their lives and go out into the world, but I love it when they keep in touch and let me know how things are going. It's great when they send emails or keep in touch on Facebook, but it's even better to go hang out and have a few beers together.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ni Hao

I don't understand any of it, but this make me think the new Australian Prime Minister Elect, Kevin Rudd, is The Man.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Writer's Block

Aarrghrghg. I had a very nice day, but I don't really feel like writing about it. My man did a good job writing about it here. Go read him.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No Black Friday Here

Seems like lots of people were all worked up to "take advantage" of the Black Friday sales. I can think of very few things I would rather do less than be at the mall at 4am the day after Thanksgiving to fight for items on sale. I really would have preferred not to shop at all today, but my father's birthday is tomorrow and I had to go out and get him a present today. I went out around 5 this evening, figuring the early morning Black Friday warriors would be all shopped out and at home by then. There were still a lot of folks out shopping, but it wasn't anything too crazy. And since it was so close by, I went by Michaels and spent $20 on yarn which will net me two Christmas presents and a hat for myself.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Memories of Thanksgiving Past

Seven of us sitting around the dining table with my back to the picture window facing out to the front lawn and Miller Ave. My parents, my sisters and my grandparents. I sat next to my Gram with my Dad on the right at the head of the table. The gorgeous crystal chandelier, now over that same table in a different dining room in my Mom's house, watching over us, with light refracting off the crystals. White tablecloth. My Mom's china in white with delicate blue flowers (?) and silver rims. The fancy silverware and glasses. Everything laid out ahead of time. (Mom used to pack for trips a week in advance, too.)
The food came out from the kitchen via the pantry. Turkey and stuffing. Broccoli "souffle" that was really more of a broccoli and cheese casserole but no less the object of my ardent affection for the gap between the fancy name and the plebeian ingredients. Mashed potatoes. Salad. Cranberry sauce. No yams or sweet potatoes or God forbid, anything with mini-marshmallows. That room, with its chandelier, fireplace, hardwood floor covered by an oriental rug, some sort of pastoral mural wall paper on the long wall. It could never allow mini-marshmallows.
The straight backed chairs demanded good posture and of course we had to dress properly for the occasion. The conversation was warm. Lots of grownup talk, of course. I liked to listen even though I don't think I understood. My grandfather always tough in his convictions; a counterpoint to my grandmother who was soft and gentle and wore her long gray hair wrapped into a bun on the back of her head.
After the pies and the grownups' coffee we'd adjourn to the living room, a room used only on special occasions. Otherwise it was a place to pass through on the way to the den, where the TV and stereo resided in a long, narrow room full of wood-louvered windows and two huge hanging ferns. A few more logs tossed onto the fire and we were full, warm and sleepy. One year I fell asleep on the gold velvet sofa. The mark of my napping drool remained long after the nap was done. I turned over the cushion and hoped no one would notice.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Count Down to the Big Day

Tomorrow is the big day. I'm looking forward to kicking back, eating a lot (but not as much as last year when I was feeling physical distress from eating too much), hanging out with my family and enjoying the day. I do not plan to take part in any sort of Black Friday nonsense, except my Dad's birthday is on Saturday and I still have to get a gift, so I might end up out there anyway.
I hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving, no matter where you are and how you spend it!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Obviously The Adjuncts' Fault

The NYT (now registration free!) ran an article today about the decline in the number of tenure track faculty on college campuses across the country. The article had a very strong bias against adjuncts and basically blamed non-tenure track faculty for falling graduation rates, with quotes like "(researchers) analyzed 15 years of national data and found that graduation rates declined when public universities hired large numbers of contingent faculty" and "Several studies of individual universities have determined that freshmen taught by many part-timers were more likely to drop out."
So, obviously this means adjunct faculty are to blame for dropping graduation rates, right? This kind of logic reminds me of the reasoning in the classic article, The Dangers of Bread.

First Snow

It seems to me that usually the first snow of the season sprinkles down prettily for 20 or 30 minutes and then melts away. That's not how it went today. It snowed from mid-morning to mid-afternoon and then turned to drizzle. It was a gray, cold, wet and crappy day. I was happy about the snow for the first hour or so. Then I had to go outside.
I tried taking the dog out for his usual evening walk, in the pitch darkness of 5 pm. He wasn't willing to go along with the program. I think I liked being out there more than he did. Eventually I had enough of his lollygagging and questioning looks and turned around to head home.
I'm officially on Thanksgiving vacation. I'm partially happy and partially not, because I'm fighting the urge to drown myself in either carbs, chocolate alcohol, or a combination of all three. I'm trying to make that just a one-day event on The Day itself and not an excuse for a week (or even half week) of debauchery.

Monday, November 19, 2007

This Is The Future

This afternoon the girl and I went to the local coffee shop after school. (Lately that's our thing-- we go hang out at coffee shops once a week.) It's a locally owned, non-franchise establishment and reminds me of when I used to go hang out at coffee shops in my college days. Except for the number of people using laptops and cell phones. Occasionally they're using both at once. Sometimes I'll look around and really see all that portable technology and realize that I'm living in the future. Remember how that all used to seem so futuristic? Now I usually don't even stop and think about it. Except when I slow down enough to really look.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

One Thing I Am Thankful For

This looks to be the first Thanksgiving in four years that I do not have to fight with my ex about what the custody schedule will be.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I Am What I Am

Here on Day No. 17 of NaBloPoMo I have come to the realization that I am able to participate in this endeavor because I basically have no life.
Well, it's not that I don't have a life. I just have a rather predictable, settled life. That's not really so bad considering I am a 42 year old with a child, a committed relationship, a steady job and a couple of pets. I'm a homebody, damnit! There are worse ways to go through life. I went out one night last week. To the local Meet Up for knitters. And it was fun. I enjoy hanging out with other women who are obsessed with yarn.
The other highlight of the week (or of the past few days, which is all I seem to recall in any detail. Anything further back then that is pretty much a blur) was that I baked my first-ever cheesecake. It was a trial run of a new recipe I'm planning to make for Thanksgiving. After extensive quality testing I have declared that it has passed the test and is now approved for Thanksgiving worthiness. This year my brother-in-law is in charge of the meal and I'm handling the deserts. I'm really looking forward to it. My bro-in-law is an excellent cook and Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. After that I can start worrying full-time about what to buy people for Christmas presents.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Holy Crap!

Toto wants to convert you to that Happy Washlet Feeling.
Because apparently, we all deserve to be pampered that way.
Personally, there are many other things I'd rather spend $1,000 on.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thou Dost Protest Too Much

Since it's NaBloPoMo and I signed up for this pony ride and don't have all that much to say, I'll take the old "comment on someone else's blog post" tactic.
During my daily check of Japan Probe I clicked on a Latest Japan News Headline link and ended up on this post by Ampontan. I think I've run across the author on a translator's mailing list or two and my recall is that he's generally a pretty smart cookie, so I was kind of disappointed to see him appearing to flog the old "American women are jealous that I chose a Japanese one" stereotype. I honestly haven't heard that line in years and even still, most American women change their point of view once they hear that Japanese women control the family finances. (Money is power, after all.)
I really didn't understand his cringing response to the feedback an American family got when they announced to friends that they were moving temporarily to Japan to advance the wife's career opportunities. I believe that most Japanese couldn't even imagine moving abroad for the wife's career advancement.
In the end, I just don't get the need for so much justification of what is ultimately a very personal decision. If you are happy with your partner, no matter what nationality, personality, occupation, station or gender, then good for you. You don't need to sell the rationale your choice for anyone else's approval.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


cash advance

Wow. I've been promoted.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Yay for the Alma Mater

Yay for my old high school, which I hated with all the teenage passion I could muster at the time even though I was the one who chose to go there. They recently announced that a Phillips Exeter Academy "education will now be free to to any admitted student whose family income is $75,000 or less." I think that is awesome. Sometimes the girl and I discuss the possibility of her applying there when she gets to high school. She could be a day student.
Some people may think I never lived up to my potential since I graduated from a "fancy" high school and didn't go to an Ivy League college, nor did I chose to follow a lucrative career path. Of the many lessons I learned at that school, go out and make a lot of money really was never one of them. The importance of learning foreign languages and cultures was emphasized; as was the notion of teaching as a career option. I learned that it was okay to have a passion for learning and to love being in school. I think I took what I needed from the four years I spent there and along the way learned that having my own opinions and standing behind them ultimately is more valuable than following, or even leading, the herd.

Monday, November 12, 2007

On the Needles

Now that the weather has turned chilly I am back to knitting regularly. I finished an entrelac scarf yesterday and after much careful deliberation have decided I'm keeping it for myself because I don't think anyone else will love it quite the way I do. (It's been blocked and is drying right now. Suppose I can put up a picture once it's dry.) I have decided to just go ahead and give up on the sweater I have been trying to knit for the past three years (using two different patterns, even) and to salvage the yarn for other, smaller projects. The yarn is a nice cranberry colored merino wool from Knitpicks. It wasn't expensive but it just doesn't want to be a sweater. I know. It told me so. So now one or two random balls are on their way to becoming cabled mittens for my girl. Once I get my hands on some size 5 double point needles it may also become other hand warming type garments. Anyway, it has clearly let me know, it will never be a sweater.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

How Many Cats?!

27 CATS!!!!
I'm glad there are such entertaining people in my family.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Holiday Gift Idea for the Japanophile on Your List

If you are wondering what to buy that Japanophile on your holiday gift recipient list I suggest you consider Japanland-- A Year in Search of Wa by Karin Muller. I had the university order the book for the library and just started reading it this morning. It's an easy, entertaining read with humor and delightful insights into modern Japanese culture. There is also a 4-hour documentary made by the author that was show on public tv. That's the next thing on my wish list for the library.

No, But Really. He's Into Me More Than Any of Them

I was thinking today that if I had to chose an imaginary rock star boyfriend I'd chose Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters). It appears I am not alone. Not alone at all. Oh well, I guess that's the good thing about imaginary rock star boyfriends. Everyone can share them and it doesn't really matter.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Ohh, Edumacated

cash advance

I found this while surfing the NaBloPoMo randomizer.
I think it means no one understands what I'm talking about but they nod in agreement because they think it' supposed to be making sense.

We can discuss my mistrust of and poor attitude towards Academia and Academics (the people) some other time, ok?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Um, Yeah

Not much to say really.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Think Local, Vote Local

Lots of people spend a great deal of time and energy getting revved up over national political races that won't even happen for another year, but I think voting in local elections is just as important. I mean, that's where you choose the people to run your school board and your city infrastructure-- things which may impact your daily life much more than some national issues.
Municipal elections were held here yesterday. The big issue was an amendment to adopt a a tax cap that would limit increases in spending based on the Consumer Price Index and the value of the previous year's new construction and demolition permits. While everyone agrees the city needs to get its spending under control, opponents pointed out that the tax cap could foreseeably lead to cuts in school budgets, road maintenance, street lights and other things most people consider necessities. I thought about it and decided I was voting against the tax cap and then made my choices for mayor and city councilors based on where they stood on the tax cap issue. I'm afraid the cap might end up resulting in more new construction permits being issued in order to raise revenue to the result that the town will become over-developed and less attractive as a place to live.
Apparently other people in town don't see it that way because the tax cap amendment was passed and the current mayor was re-elected to office even though he chose not to take a position on the issue and his most serious challenger was clearly supportive of the cap. It seems like most wards voted for Councilors who supported the tax cap, so maybe people just like Myers as a mayor and his declining to take a stand on the tax cap issue was neutral enough to please everyone. I understand that people don't want to see any more increases in their property taxes, but I hope the school system doesn't suffer because of it.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

She Not Just A Mouthless Cat

I bet you never knew Hello Kitty has so many permutations. Apparently each of Japan's 47 prefectures have their own limited edition versions of Kitty (sold only at select locations). There are also multiple Kittys for each of the four seasons and various randomly themed Kittys.
And lest you think Hello Kitty is just a cute plastic children's toy, maybe you ought to know that her shallow, expressionless demeanor is deeper than that, she is, in fact, a "cute-therapist for the emotionally exhausted masses" of Japan.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I Hate "Fall Back"*

Screw it. Here's the minutiae.
Once in a while I decide to change things up and do my grocery shopping at Shaws rather than Hannaford, my usual haunt. In general I think Hannaford has better produce and I'm used to it, so I can get in and out of there with relatively more efficiency than Shaws. But today I decided on a change of pace and went to Shaws. And was reminded of what is probably the real reason why I usually chose not to shop there-- their shopping carts give me really strong static shocks. Audible snapping electrical-sounding shocks. Even when I hold on to the plastic handle cover, the shocks sneak up underneath my fingers and get me there.
Snap! Ow! Snap! Ow! roll roll roll Snap! Oww!
That's no way to shop.
So yeah, the all registers open from 4pm-7pm thing is really good, but unless it's a quick enough trip that I can carry my purchases in one of those hand baskets, I'm not shopping at Shaws anymore.

* I realize the post has nothing to do with the title. I just thought I'd announce that I am also not pleased that it is DARK out at 5pm now. And it'll only worse until the holiday season is done with.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I Must Be Getting Old

I thought I was going to be clever and call on a backlog of remembered conversations to help get me through this month of NaBloPoMo without resorting to telling you all what I had for breakfast and other similar minutiea. Then after I posted one I checked my archives and realized I already blogged about that particular conversation nine months ago.
Oh God. I'm becoming one of those people...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Week That Was

The past week was just full of miscommunication. And I felt like it was my job to do everything I could to bridge all the gaps. There were in-class issues, interdepartmental issues and intercultural ones, too. I think I did all right. I'm handling the in-class stuff with as much tact as I can muster, although I wish some of the students had enough maturity to realize that there are all kinds of people in the world, and behavior they see and judge to be uncool or weird is not always deliberate. The interdepartmental stuff just seems to be people talking past each other. I have no idea what the hell is going on there, but I really want to see it worked out. I haven't been dragged too far into the intercultural stuff yet, just consulted about it. If it comes to the point where I get called in to help, I'll give it my best shot. Don't really know how much I can do though. I already know that if people are determined to feel misplaced and miserable it's very hard to change their minds.

Friday, November 02, 2007


I bought a new car today!!!!!!

It's a 2005 4WD Toyota Matrix. It's beautiful. And I went and did it all by myself. For the first time in my life. Ever.
Go me.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bureacracy Sucks

How much do you hate it when you have to do someone else's job for them because they are lazy or clueless, or both? I hate it A LOT. Even if it only took me 10 minutes to do it, it still pisses me off.

Rabbit Rabbit

And so it begins...