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Squared Sevens Blogging Corp.
Tuesday, 6 March 2007
Happy Birthday to me!
24 years old today. Yippie!

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 8:54 AM EST
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Thursday, 1 March 2007
Five for the Price of One
I guess this is kind of an experiment- less frequent updates, but longer and about more topics. Let's see how it works out.


I'm starting to feel like I've been in Japan for a very long time, maybe too long. For example, I was watching an American movie on TV, and during a car scene, I was like, "They're driving on the wrong side of the road!" Yesterday, I went to the grocery store and thought how weird it must be to get a whole loaf of bread instead of only six slices (for basically the same price). But the thing that got me the most was looking at some recent pictures of my sister taken for her engagement- she looks completely different from what I remembered! A very strange feeling. I was like, "Is that my sister"? I guess it has been about 7 months now since I have been to the States. It seems like it has gone by so quickly, but still that's a good amount of time no matter how you look at it.


I don't know what it is recently, but I've sure been injuring myself quite a lot recently. I mean, just being clumsy as all get-out. For example, when I was playing soccer, I was running, tripped myself up, and fell flat of my face (no really, my forehead was all scratched and bloody from hitting the ground). I accidentally sliced my finger a little bit with an opened car top. Then, last week, but put the palm of my hand right into a thumbtack that had been left on a table in the English room. I've been having some rough digestive issues as well. I just don't know what's gotten into me. Just don't expect to save the world or anything, because I will probably slip on a banana peel, and then we're all doomed.


If old Japanese video games don't interest you, then you might want to skip this next part. There's a game store in Oita that I've seen for awhile, but never took the time to check out. It's called Game Museum, and if you know I like collecting old video games, well that sounds like it might be right up my alley. I was out and about Sunday in Oita, and on my way back I finally decided to stop in. Man, I'm glad I did. This place was loaded with rare and sought after collectbales. Sure they had your standard craploads of new and used PS2 and PS1 games, but beyond that they had shelves full of special edition releases, one of the better Xbox sections I've seen, tons of Famicom and Super Famicom stuff too. The other retro stuff was great too- Everything from Mega Drive to PC-FX. The PC Engine CD stuff was especially impressive.
And the consoles they had there were amazing. Turbo Duo R? Check. Sega Wondermega? Check. Supergrafx? Check. LaserActive with PC Engine and Mega Drive modules? Check. There was even some really neat stuff, like a PC Engine LT, on display (but not for sale- I guess it really is a museum, after all). So, upon seeing all this, I was happier than a bug in a rug. But since I was low on cash at the time, I had to watch my purchases closely.


Recently, a study was done that showed today's college students are more narcissistic than ever before. I can't say that comes as a huge surprise to me after 4 years of college. Just read these quotes.

"The study asserts that narcissists "are more likely to have romantic relationships that are short-lived, at risk for infidelity, lack emotional warmth, and to exhibit game-playing, dishonesty, and over-controlling and violent behaviors."

Twenge, the author of "Generation Me: Why Today's Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled — and More Miserable Than Ever Before," said narcissists tend to lack empathy, react aggressively to criticism and favor self-promotion over helping others."

Sound like anyone you know?


Just Because.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 8:49 AM EST
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Saturday, 17 February 2007
Car Talk (and more)
It's been a pretty crazy week or so here, which you may have been able to tell thanks to the Lack of Updates (TM Frodaddy's 2002). Today, it's raining cats and dogs out there, and I have a terrific headache **partially thanks my my neighbors burning some noxious leaves and rubbish, seriously people will burn anything over here. Just pick any random day, drive for a minute, and you'll see piles of smoldering crap. I guess it's a farmers thing, since everyone does that in some form or another out in the countryside. The worst is when they do it right next to the baseball fields. It sure smells awful, and it can't be good for the lungs either. It's a wonder the air is clean at all, actually.** So, not much going on today. Mostly just lying around and being lazy.

I did get my car fixed, however. See, Wednesday, after school is done, I'm ready to crank the car, and... nothing. It won't start. Thankfully, I had the foresight earlier to join JAF (Japan Automobile Federation, think AAA), and after about 30 minutes someone got my car started up for me. Anyways, it looks like the spark plugs were shot, plus the air filter was filthy, and I think possibly something was up with the carberator too. So, lots of stuff that needed to be looked at. I hope everything is taken care of for a little bit at least. Next big car deadlines- I need to get Shaken, which is like a super inspection, in May, and I'll need to take the Japanese driving test this summer (which I've heard is absolute, total, %100 bullshit). Grreeeat.

In other fun news, MEP #2 is up. It may be a challenge to keep it on time and monthly, but it seems like a good way to spend some of my extra time at work. You can check it out for yourself here:

Also, I realize I haven't put up any pictures of my experiences and travels in Japan... there's really no excuse for it at all. So I should probably do that one of these days.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 9:56 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 17 February 2007 10:02 AM EST
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Wednesday, 7 February 2007
Super Party
Monday evening, I got together with some of the other local American ALTs to watch the Super Bowl. One of them, Zach, is lucky enough to get the satellite channels, so we watched a tape delay broadcast on NHK BS1. It worked out pretty good, except they showed the news for 10 minutes on the hour and skipped uneventful parts of the game (I think they only showed one punt, for example). So, basically we saw about 3/4ths of the game, but that is better than nothing. There was plenty of good food there, like real chili and chips and salsa. I brought along some Skittles from my stash, as well as some Kool-Aid but the rest of the guys just drank beer, of course. So, to recap, we were watching the game, eating chips and salsa, and drinking beer. Oh yeah, we're real Americans.

Game Notes:

I can't decide if the game was boring or not. Honestly, there were some exciting plays here and there, but from about the 3rd quarter on the outcome was pretty clear as the Colts just bled the clock. Overall, it was a so-so game but not terrible.

Speaking of terrible, Rex Grossman didn't exactly turn in the best performance of his career. I can see why people were ragging on him non-stop during the season, he made plenty of crappy throws. Actually, a big minus goes to the whole Chicago coaching staff, for not adjusting their gameplan at all during the second half when it became clear Indy was controlling the game. You've got to try to do something different at least, guys. This makes 3 Super Bowls in a row the losing team had just some awful coaching... Bears, Seahawks, Eagles all should have had a better chance of winning their games. What else can you say but a giant lost opportunity.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 7:58 AM EST
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Wednesday, 31 January 2007
Everyday Ish
Well, I'm sure you're wondering, what am up to recently? Well, since you asked, I'll tell you. Saturday, I played Volleyball with a bunch of kids from school. Good thing it wasn't a real game, because I would have lost badly. One of our English classes was on the lives of refugees, so I made a little presentation about that. Likewise, I also made a poster about landmine removal just recently. Last Thursday, I had a Elementary school day, and I about had to kill some of the 2nd graders and the kindergarten kids cried when they lost the game, but other than that it was fun. I'm tired of eating the same food all of the time, but I have to "play it safe" because a lot of the food I buy goes bad before I can use it. I finished 24 Season 1, I'm starting to watch Season 2, it seems good but just not as good as the first.

I called my Mom on Saturday to wish her a happy birthday. Yesterday, I finally got a haircut after about oh, say, three months. Today, I helped out at baseball practice after school. I did some catching and fielding, but man it was pretty chilly out there today. Baseball is definitely a summer sport. It might snow tomorrow or Friday, for the first real snowfall we've had this winter. Will school be cancelled? I don't know, but that would be exciting, wouldn't it?

Today, I was grocery shopping and ran into one of my students. Now he's a nice kid, but he wouldn't stop following me around and asking stupid questions. Again, I like the kid but sometimes there is just no where to go with this job. In other news, I have begun some very preliminary work on Monthly Eigo Post #2, I'll keep you, um, posted. Also today, I had some of the second year students design write their own comic strip captions, it didn't work out so great but at least it was something different for them to do. Also, some students will be putting on a play on Sunday, so I will go check that out. I think that is just about everything. Just a little taste of what my everyday activites are like here.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 9:24 AM EST
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Deadeye Dick
While I'm using my little corner of the internet, I want to go out of my way to say what a vile person Richard Bruce Cheney is. Normally I try to stay cool about these kinds of things, but this time it's gone too far and I've got to speak up. It's no secret that for six years now the guy has done whatever he's wanted with the US government and constitution, playing up the need to spread democracy in the Middle East and mentioning how the terrorists hate our freedoms, while cracking down on our privacy and rights at home and being the most secretive administration in US history. The guy's shot more holes in the constitution than one of his unlucky hunting partners. No really, for a while no one even knew who worked for the guy. Check it out.

His latest interview with Wolf Blitzer of CNN may be his masterpiece. Note the detached worldview, refusal to admit obvious blunders, the faux outrage when asked about his lesbian daughter's relationships. (Never mind his political party has made open targets out of gays and lesbians for years). And he dares to mention that others don't have "stomach" for the fight. If only it were that simple. Ask yourself what he's sacrficed, what he's given up, and think if he has the right to tell others about "stomach" and toughing it out.

But he can be a real joker from time to time. Did you hear the one about anyone who disagrees with him wants the USA to lose in Iraq? About all the enormous successes? Oh wait. Seriously, there used to be a joke about how he would eat bats for breakfast, and somehow, seeing his self-satisfied mug, it doesn't seem that far off from the truth.

If you needed more proof the guy isn't human, both The Daily Show and Gregg Easterbrook of TMQ have pointed out another weird trait about the guy- he never, ever blinks. No, I'm serious. Watch any clip of the State of the Union address, and compare his blinks to that of say, more probable humanoid Nancy Pelosi. While Pelosi blinks incessantly, Cheney does, at most, once or twice a minute. The conclusion? What a creep. I'll let Easterbrook sum up my thoughts here:

"Finally, it's normal to blink like crazy on television. Watch even professional newscasters and sportscasters, as they face the camera they blink constantly -- viewers zone the blinking out. Last night during the State of the Union address, George W. Bush, Nancy Pelosi and Dick Cheney were facing the camera. Speaker Pelosi blinked non-stop. The president blinked frequently. Cheney never blinked. Check a video. Increasingly I fear that "Richard Cheney" is the host of a slug-like alien symbiot creature that has been implanted in his body and controls his brain."

That's all. I'm done.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 9:19 AM EST
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Monday, 22 January 2007
You Can Call It MEP
Here's a little project that I put together in my free time. I call it the Monthly Eigo (Enlgish) Post, or MEP for short, and it's a newsletter I will try to put out every month or so for the students. If I can get them reading English and maybe learning something about American culture, then great. If some of the English seems a little strange to you, please remember the target audience is Japanese middle schoolers with only a few years of study. It isn't anything complicated, but still took the better part of a school today to put together, finding good images, getting everything just right. Now that I've got the format roughly settled on it should be easier to put out an issue. By the way, since I wrote "Monthly" in the title, I'm gonna have to try hard to crank out something interesting every 30 days. If all else fails, I'll just change the name to "Mike's Eigo Post". It's still MEP, you know. Well, here's hoping that A. I can keep it up and B. enough people take the time to read it.

You can d/l the word file of it from here (sorry, you may need to cut and paste):

In other news, one of my fellow teachers was flipping out today in the staff room. Turns out there is a picture of him from his middle school days in one of the textbooks. OK, maybe not that big of a deal but it was worth it just to see his reaction. And admit it, if you saw your picture in some school textbook, you'd probably act a little crazy too.

Also, somebody returned from Korea with some chocolates for everyone. But these weren't just any ol' plain chocolates, no. They were spicy, as in with hot peppers mixed in the chocolate. Oh course, he neglected to tell everyone this when handing them out. Fun! Also, an Australian student whose mother is from Ono left to go back to Oz today, he was on his summer vacation there and came to Japan to visit relatives and check out the school. He had to go back to make it to a rowing camp at his school. Oh, those crazy Australians. His older brother is still here through the rest of the week though. Finally, the kids in two of my class periods today were real snots, hyperactive, wouldn't shut up. The third class though, everyone was practically falling asleep. Great. Just another day on the job.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 9:32 AM EST
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Saturday, 20 January 2007
Bucks for Becks
I should be using this space to talk about how great the signing of David Beckham by the LA Galaxy is for American soccer, how it will boost the sport's popularity and visibility in the USA to previously unseen levels. But I can't. All I can say is, it's a really smart business move for Beckham. Perhaps to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and a future career after soccer.

Really, it's not difficult to see. Just as he is getting benched at Real Madrid and kicked off the English national team, he'll come over to the US and reap a whole new fortune of endorsement cash. He'll be the undisputed star of the entire league instead of languishing on the sidelines, overshadowed by the world's best in La Liga. The contract he signed gives him special cuts of endorsements and jersey sales, just the kind of things you would expect to see flying off the shelves once the public starts seeing his face on ESPN everyday.

Additionally, he'll be in LA, and he can play up his showbiz contacts for himself and his singer wife as much as he wants. Expect to see a thespian Beckham in the upcoming years, beyond your general 30 second TV spots. So never mind some high-minded goal of spreading soccer to America. This is a business deal first and foremost.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 4:37 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 20 January 2007 4:40 AM EST
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Saturday, 13 January 2007
Some Random Stuff
We got new computers at one of my schools. It's nice because rarely does someone want to give you a free computer. It's even rarer when you don't want a free computer someone is trying to give you. Basically, the school district wants us to stop using our private computers at school and switch over to the ones they provide. Problem is, they're a pain. Installation is fun when there is no where to put the computers in cramped teacher's rooms. Of course, you can't download or install anything, net usage is limited, etc. Not to mention that I hate using Japanese-style keyboards (too much stuff gets moved around, the space bars are teeny tiny, to name two reasons), and as of now you can see the other school's data and files on the network. So much for privacy. I'm sure we will all get adjusted to it at some point, but it seems like a massive waste to me now.

My old stomping grounds of Machida wasin the news recently, and I can't say that it was for something good. The decapitated head of a murder victim was found in a park there. Well, don't worry, the actual crime was comitted in the filth and pestilence of... a swank Shibuya housing development, but the perp needed somewhere to stash the evidence, and Machida is only a quick train ride away from the city center. You know what to do: click the link for details.

Well, here's where it gets fun. The only direct line from Shinjuku to Machida is the Odakyu line, which I used to ride all the time. And I don't know exactly, but I have a very strong suspicion of where she would have dumped the "evidence"... a park about 10mins. walk from the station where I've been to many times. Of course, when I mentioned this to my co-workers, they all pointed out how I'd been to Machida recently, about the same time, like you know, I had done it. Got to love those guys.

In other news, I picked a terrible year to go to Japan, because the NFL playoffs are absolutely stacked this year. Look at the matchups... New England vs. San Diego (Belichick vs. Marty, formerly dominant team vs. new kids on the block, River's first playoff start, LT, Will Marty Blow it), Indy vs. Baltimore (offense and speed vs. defense and power), Philly vs. New Orleans (can the Saints win for the city, Superdome will be rockin'). The only potential stinker is Chicago vs. Seattle (will Rex get benched for Griese, everyone expecting Chicago to blow up but they probably won't) Still, that's a great lineup of games. No, I don't have any picks though. Still haven't watched a game this season, you know.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 10:20 AM EST
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Tuesday, 9 January 2007
Dateline Tokyo, Part Deux
January 1st:

As you can guess, I didn't do much this day. Mostly sleeping. But my man Shingo was feeling better, so we met up in Yokohama. Most everything was closed, so we mostly checked out the local game arcades. Also we went to Chinatown and had the most ridiculously spicy food, it was crazy. I couldn't get my nose to stop running, but that's part of the fun, right?

January 2nd:

This was one of the days I had all to myself, so I had a lot planned. One thing I had to get out of the way was going to Hama Rikyu Gardens- I was really disappointed that it was closed before. So I went, and there was a special demonstatration some falconers. Well, the birds didn't always want to cooperate, but there were some interesting parts in there, like when I bird swooped in from a local skyscraper (I'm serious) to grab some prey. As for the park, it is an interesting Japanese-style place right in the middle of the city. Unfortantely, it was cloudy that day, but what can you do. Then I went to Ueno, where it was insanely crowded. I grabbed some McDonald's to eat in the park, where I was chatted up by a local homeless (I assume) with some pretty good english skills. Only in Japan I guess. My plan was to go to a Dali exhibit there, but the line was just insane so I checked out some other places instead. Then I went to Akihabara, the famous electronics district, where I spent just about every yen remaining on some retro games- Saturn, Famicom, even some Game Boy Advance stuff. After that I was pretty tired so went back.

Janunary 3rd:

I met Akane and another Charlotte friend, Ayumi, to go to yet a shrine for Hatsumode, which is the special first visit of the New Year where you can get your fortune for the upcoming year, pray, get good luck charms, etc. Then McDonalds (again, but it was close), and we walked around Nagatacho, which is kind of the nerve center of the Japanese Government- the Diet Building, PM's residence (lots of security there), etc. Next to Omotesando, where all the insanely expensive stores are, to walk around and people watch. We stopped at a restaurant for some coffee, then everyone went home while I walked up the road a bit to check out Harajuku.

January 4th:

My last whole day in Tokyo. I went to Asukasa to check out Sensoji, yet another big temple in Tokyo where New Year's activities were underway. I grabbed a quick chicken steak from a foodstall and took some pictures. Next to Kappabashi-dori, which is your one-stop shopping place if you own a restaraunt- plates, signs, giant knives, plastic display food, it's all there. Many of the places were still closed for New Year's however. Then I went to Ryogoku, where the big Sumo tournaments are held, and went to Edo Tokyo Museum, which shows the history of Tokyo inside of this absolutely crazy building. I ran out of time there, so I will have to check it out again some other time. Finally, I had one last thing to do. In Roppongi Hills Toho Cinema, they hda Japan's only English-subtitled showing of Clint Eastwood's latest, "Letters from Iwo Jima". For the privelige of watching a movie on some of Tokyo's most chic real estate, I forked over 1800 yen (around $16.50). However, the movie was outstanding and it was worth every penny.

After the end of the movie, time to get back to the hotel and pack all my crap up for the following morning. I met Shingo at Kawasaki and we went to Haneda airport, said our goodbyes. When I got on the plane, I promptly fell asleep. I guess it was that kind of trip. Lots of walking, not lots of sleep.

At the time it didn't seem like I was doing much, and I was wondering if I was getting my money's worth so to speak out of the trip. But while typing this, it sure seems like I did a crap load of stuff while I was there. Going to Zojoji (temple) for New Year's was a particularly cool experience. Some of the museums I went to were kind of a waste though (no names here). On the whole I had plenty of fun times though; there is always something interesting going on in Tokyo. I sure spent enough money on travel and shopping though. Gonna have to save that yen from here on out.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 9:01 AM EST
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