May 2, 2013
Holey moley, a whole month and change.
Of course, a new semester and academic year is underway, noted because, as do schoolchildren, teachers measure the passage of time by the school term. I benefitted from a lucky draw, with sixteen of eighteen classes being pretty good. One of those two classes is still a herd of deer staring into the headlights of my tutelage going on week four, and the other a bevy of young ladies with terminal sophomoritis. I should also mention the one very sad, extremely shy girl who is not doing very well at all recovering from what must be some unimaginable trauma. Last, I am finally implementing digital submission of student work. Yes, Japan, 2013. And, yes, I am finding myself teaching the subtleties and nuances of such high tech voodoo as email attachments and SUBJECT fields.
So much work. Good thing I love it.
My brake foot has finally recovered from the bizarre kart racing injury I inflicted on myself in Chicago. Weirdest thing. Also, learned that, after much serious deliberation, that, in fact, the difference between a 12mm and a 9mm buzz cut is much less than what you think 3mm looks like, and is invisible to anyone other than the wearer. The podcast going well, and pretty happy with the last few. Just and the chance to configure a slick TextExpander snippet to streamline my biweekly wrestling with the XML feed file.
A cool spring here in Osaka, no complaints. Not happy at all about the largish earthquake a few weeks ago, the biggest I've experienced since what I think of as the big one in 1995. No injury or damage (well, small stuff), but not a nice way to wake up.
Golden Week is here, which means, mostly, a chance to catch up and, hopefully, get ahead with (wait for it) work. One of the projects loaded in the chamber is a pile of headphones to review. No diamonds to reveal, but if you are unafflicted with audiophilism, there is a real bargain to be had with these Monoprice cans. I'll let you be surprised at the price. Your free tip.
March 27, 2013
Procrastinating my taxes makes me so productive. The Detroit Road Trip pics are up, the Japanese Meeting book is ready for proofreading, my next two headphone roundups for Macworld are outlined, and I'm sketching out ideas for the next book, which will most likely be the first of two, maybe three memoir/fictions about growing up on Chicago's south side. Working title: Then and There. Spreadsheets and class plans for the new semester just falling into place. Now I hear my guitar calling me...
March 21, 2013
Happy Vernal Equinox!
Just a bit of shameless self-promotion, as FINALLY, the Us and Them book is available on amazon's Kindle Store, both in the US and in Japan.
Get it here:
March 16, 2013
Seems just hours ago we were in Studio A of Hitsville, USA, the Motown museum on Grand Blvd. in western Detroit, then barreling toward Chicago through whiteout conditions across Indiana, the tiny Mazda 2 rental, screaming its anemic motor out. Now, those Motown hits are funking me up over Alaska, flying "home" to Japan. Great road trip it was, too. Down and dirty diners with their coney dogs, classic Americana at the Henry Ford Museum, and the sheer awe of the Ford Rouge Plant's complexity and precision. The chance to drive, both Interstate bullet mode as well as stupid parking lot drifting. Way too much beer (for some of us, anyway - and, surprise, I don't mean me), diamond quality camaraderie. The rest of the trip was also just fine; lots of down time, a chance to relax and catch up on work, even enough to wrestle the next book to the mat if not quite finish it off. Cooked well enough to pack the pounds and cholesterol on both my brother and myself. Caught up with more old friends that matter. Really matter. Drove a new BMW 3-series, though gingerly. Got some of the old driving mojo back and managed second in one of the go-kart racing heats, maybe second fastest of our group all day. Felt good - it's been a while. Saw the old hood, smelled the Back of the Yards air, drove its potholed streets, marked the passage of time. Nothing finer.
BTW, this crew on Japan Airlines 009 (3/14) ROCKS. American, United should be ashamed.
OK, Japan, Wifus™, students, here I come, tank full, batteries charged. I'm back.
February 20, 2013 - Sweet home Chicago
OK, got here. It's the coldest day of the season. And the forecast is for more of the same. Until it snows. Nice welcome home, Chicago. No matter, the old family home is toasty, and between the weather and jet lag, I am a virtual productivity nuclear reaction. Witness, the Russia photos.
February 19, 2013 - Goin' home
No net access on this flight, but here I am at 5,000 feet somewhere over the northern Pacific headed home. Always nice. Plenty of work to get done there while "on vacation" but lots of play to look forward to: Detroit with the guys, some kart racing scheduled, real, real Mexican fare with the high school gang, Greektown with friends/colleagues from the UIC days...and driving.
February 13, 2013 - Month two
The classes have finally stopped, and this morning I submitted the last of my grades. The schedule shifts from daily commutes to considerably more keyboard time: proofreading, headphone reviews, work on the books, etc. Finally found the missing link at lulu.com so now I can track sales of my Us and Them; not that there's much to track. Amazon.com's Kindle Store is STILL unable to handle non-Roman characters (my calendar says 2013…) and Apple's iBooks store in Japan isn't due open until later in the year, so I'm effectively blocked from my market. Still, getting an ebook out on my own was a great learning experience, and SOMEDAY that Japanese Meeting book will make it out there.
January 22, 2013 - It begins again
A new year and 6% over already. Even my iPhone battery does better than that. Seems the weather is a bit weird all over the world, but here in Kansai, it's pretty much the usual winter-wanna-be: nothing that would ever be called winter where I come from, but just cold and windy enough to provoke one to bitching about it. I could start on Japanese house construction, but I'll spare you.
As usual, last year's posts are archived at the bottom of the page in case you need to call me out on something you swear I said last year. If you're really bored, you can go back to 2006 and see what life here was like then. Me? Chicken.
Wrapping up another academic year here, so even thought the tick-over rituals are long over for folks outside Japan, I'm still caught up in a second wave of last/next turn over. Some classes and students I'm really going to miss, maybe a lot. To some, of course, I'm happy to say "sayonara." (Because "goodbye" is too good a word, of course.)
Looking back, at the last year, the travel really stands out: Cambodia, Vietnam, Russia, Guam, and, yes, my beloved home, Chicago. Managed to keep all my teaching and proofreading work, which is great. Most outside of Japan don't understand that being a part-time university teacher is very much a freelance/ronin affair; you're pretty much on your own. Labor laws ostensibly passed meant to help folks like me have moved employers to change their "contracts" to exploit gaping loopholes, leaving us bent way over grabbing our ankles in even more pain than before. But that's the nature of war. Don't like it, don't enlist.
Balancing that was the launch of our Two Teachers Talking podcast, which is a hoot. Lots of work? Yes. Revenue? Zero. That may or may not change in the future, but it's still fun.
Coming up soon (I hope) will be the Japanese meeting book, as will a (mandatory) re-release of the Us and Them book. Let's hope amazon figures out how to handle non-roman characters in books in its Kindle Store. I'm not making this up.
How nice to see a sign of life in the Democratic Party in the US, though I might be mistaking that for a death wish among the opposition. I guess the lesson is whether it's national or local (Chicago/Rahm), it never pays to expect too much from your elected officials. Don't fool yourself that it's only the US. Jesus H. F. Christuminus, just look at the Japanese equivalent: Abe as Prime Minister and Hashimoto as Mayor of Osaka. There you go! Load up the expletives, friends. For now, I'll just enjoy the afterglow of the Obama Inauguration.
But, my life right now is tests, scoring, grading, syllabi…keeping FIVE academic institutions happy with their assorted bureaucratic needs that must not be neglected.
Us and Them - Buy my book!
Two Teachers Talking - Podcast with Charles Wiz focusing on teaching English in Japan, and on education and learning in general.
A Quick and Dirty Guide to the Japanese Meeting. In progress, publication target, Spring 2013
Good morning, Москва. "The Japanese Meeting," and "Topics-Based English Classes in Japanese Universities." Two presentations at The University of Vladimir in Vladimir, Russia. September 2012.
Rita Men Podcast. An ongoing oral history of our days at St. Rita High School, 1967-1971. WAY more interesting than you think. Hope to have the first episodes up in September.
on my iPhone (music
books being read or I wished were:
better in theory
*Stolen from Esquire