Ladies and gentlemen of all ages...the following is brought to you by a
very strange guy in a far off land (applause).  A preview of the items on
today's show are how running and singing are big deals here, being able to
actually read some of the signs..doing a little dance..the first couple
days of my already interesting teaching experience...and some demanded
cultural info...not necessarily in that order.
        I took the train again...and I didn't get lost!!! Miracles happen
especially when I can read the signs...that computer program is working.
Too bad I still don't have the foggiest idea what people are saying.  Take
the other day for instance.  I went to the grocery and at the cashier's
counter the cashier said something to me in Japanese (go figure).  Well I
figured..."hey I'm going to be adventurous today" I said it back,
thinking it was just a common greeting that I didn't find out about..ya
know, broaden my greeting depth?  Come to find out from my all inspiring
Japanese translator Jason...the woman said "Welcome to our store"...oops.
        My weekend was pretty good though.  On Saturday, I made an
appearance at my main junior high school's sports festival.  It is a big
deal here to have a day of sports between all the classes...probably
something you wouldn't see in America.  The English teacher there asked me
to run with the teachers in the relay race...of course I
sandals and all.  Well, even though the teacher, who was supposed to pass
the baton to me, passed me at first (guess I didn't stick out quite enough)
I got it and ran...with the applause of the whole crowd (you would have
thought I had been crippled for years and now I was running for the first
time).  Afterwards many people commented on how fast I could ran...which
was pretty surprising.  The day was a good one..I even got another box of
tissues for my participation.  That's 2 boxes now...I guess my Christmas
gifts to the family are almost set.  Oh yeah the teachers kicked all the
students' sorry butts in the relay...yeah for us (it still feels strange
that I am on the other side of the teacher/student thing..I am one of
them..yikes..if they only knew...well I can't explain it to them).
        The next day I participated in the Nakanojo festival doing a
trained dance in the parade.  The road wasn't long but when you add the
dance moves to the distance the walk/dance lasted about  an hour.  Again
applause and faces of wonderment that the foreigner could actually do a
Japanese dance, reigned the day.  I saw many of the students and teachers I
would be working with...and so far these past two days during my classes I
hear "I saw you dancing in the festival"...actually it is more like "you
festival dance...ha
good".  I'm still waiting on my food offers that were the reason why my
bosses wanted me to dance in the first place (note: reference to past
email...if you have no idea what I'm talking about...request the back
        Speaking of my classes, yesterday was my first day.  It started as
a typical nightmare first day.  For some strange reason I thought I had
yesterday off...well since I only had paper work (or so I thought) for a
Tuesday visit..I even had made plans to leave town with some friends at
8:50am.  Being dressed for my adventure I got a call at boss
saying "elementary number one...let's go"...huh...hmmmm...okay...then what
followed was a major failure in communication..."You drive here or do I
drive to office" (actual incorrect sentence structure..English majors don't
cringe too much)...the response to my question "yes"...well finally I
thought I was waiting for him but after waiting 15min when the trip only
takes 5min I thought I had it to the office..only to pass him
on the way...I spun around and followed him...and he got on..all the way to
the school.  The rest of the day  was okay...though I got into my first
class and the principal and teacher pointed to me and said "Please
start"...okay...spontanaity is good...but not now...what to video...still 30minutes to go...fill in with
silly things to the students you would never show anyone in
America...driver's license...student card...ATM card...and
things that aren't too ring...and I repeated this 3
times in the course of the day.
        Today at one of the junior high schools, I repeated this process
twice with a slight variation.  The English teacher asked me if  I knew any
Carpenters' songs...I retorted.."no"...okay how about "Stand By Me"?...yes
I know that..."Please sing"...what followed was a very bad version of an
acapella version of "Stand By Me"...that would make Ben E. King roll in his say he isn't dead? haven't checked lately...still the
class applauded...I am pretty sure they were prompted.  Luckily (notice
sarcasm) for the English teacher and me, one of the students had the words
to a Carpenters song..."Close to you"...who in the crowd knows this song?
C'mon parents you remember this great, tear jerking, dog howling tribute to
love that would gag the mushiest sap at a Titanic movie (which I might add
is still very popular here).  So for a few minutes of agony, with actual
backup music, I pondered..."Why do birds sing...everytime you walk
by?"..."that's because they long to be close to you"...duh...again
applause...note to self...things not to do when I teach in America.  I only
wonder what strange happenings are awaiting my presence tomorrow.
        Okay some culture stuff.  Myth:  All Japanese people are short.
Truth: Though many are...I run into many who are taller than me...though
this must be the younger, since vitamins were discovered, generation.  A
couple guys my age in my office are taller than me...but to my boss' joy I
out weigh them by a great deal...they are always saying how big I
should I take that?
        Well that is all the news from a very strange guy in a far off
(cricket sounds)....