It's been quite the week for teachers in Oita Prefecture. First, there has been a huge scandal involving the hyper-competitive Teacher Acceptance Test (aka kyousai). With a dwindling number of students and therefore full-time teaching positions, the competition to pass and get one of the limited number of positions is fierce. The #2 guy at the Board of Education got busted for taking bribes in order to get certain teachers to pass these tests. While this kind of thing shouldn't be too surprising, it stinks that it happened in your prefecture. It was actually the leading news story on NHK this morning, ahead of even the G-8 summit in Hokkaido. In other Oita teaching news, a teacher in Tsukumi got busted for looking up a student's skirt at the train station a few days. Way to go, champ.
Three people I know (including myself) have Xbox 360s, and all three of us have had them break on us. While the other two were the dreaded "red ring of death", the disc drive in mine kept scratching the discs, rendering them unplayable. Obviously this can be an expensive proposition with games these days, so I decided that I wasn't going to let it go. Being that I live in Japan and all the items that I own are Japan region, I got to deal with customer service in Japanese. Now on one hand, you can almost always count on customer service in Japan being really great, so that wasn't an issue. On the other hand, polite Japanese (like one would use when dealing with customers) is quite different from standard Japanese, from pronouns to verbs, so it can be quite difficult to make out at times (Airplane announcements are another tough one). And when I had to call Microsoft on the phone and talk to the customer service rep in said polite Japanese, it was pretty tough. Fortunately one of my coworkers was there to lend a hand when I got in trouble. Finally I got everything worked out, a new disc from Capcom, the system was repaired, and the it was actually good study to work with the polite forms. Still a lot of trouble just for a game though.
It's definitely summer time here and hotter than balls. When you step outside, it's really like an oven, and the real killer is the humidity... you definitely sweat a lot. It's enough to even make you dizzy at times, and it's not even August yet. At school, the teacher's room is air-conditioned, but the classrooms have to make do with electric fans and open windows. Not always enough to do the trick. Fortunately, summer vacation is right around the corner, but then the sports club practices get more intense, especially baseball. It can get pretty brutal, and no the gyms aren't air-conditioned either.
Fortunately with summer vacation coming up there are also some good travel opportunities as well. These past couple months it feels like I've been getting stuck in somewhat of a rut, every week seeming the same, nothing special going on, all of that. So I've been itching to get out and see some new places. The teachers at Ono are going to Hiroshima for a couple of days at the beginning of August (no, not that day) and the Chitose teachers are going to Takamatsu on the island of Shikoku. I'd like to go to both of those places, although of course Hiroshima will be awkward (this after going with them to Nagasaki last year). Also, like last year, I volunteered to help out at the English summer camp in Yufuin, in was pretty enjoyable last time so it should be nice. Finally, in the middle of August I'll be going to Kansai checking out some different things there (going to see the Koshien baseball tournament, Nara, Osaka, maybe Himeji or Kyoto). So it will be nice to get out of the ken for a little bit.