One of Avoidinglife's loyal readers "Jason E" sent me this neat lesson plan he found. It's a lesson about English slang terms, and for some reason stars a Hulk Hogan-like cartoon character. I'd use it on my students, except most of them are still trying to master "This is a pen". Soon the new school year will begin and I'll be handed a new crop of minds to manipulate. Apparently the average score on the entrance exam this year for Noheji High was somewhere in the 20's, with only a couple of students getting over 50%. I better go say my prayers and eat my vitamins.
Just moments ago I snapped these pictures outside my apartment in Noheji. A great fire completely gutted the house of one of my neighbores. I have no idea at this time if anyone was hurt or not, but I'll update this post with more information if I should hear it.
Steph sent me the following:
HONG KONG ? McDonald's Restaurants (Hong Kong) Ltd was found guilty by a Hong Kong court Monday of selling ice cream containing E.coli bacteria 630 times above safety standards, local media TVB reported.
The company was fined HK$4,000 and had to pay an extra HK$430 for laboratory tests. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department inspector took samples of a HK$2 ($0.26) ice cream cone from a McDonald's restaurant in the industrial district Kwun Tong in Kowloon in April last year, TVB News reported
Sure hope the McDonald's restaurants in Shanghai are cleaner than those in Hong Kong, as in one month's time that's where you'll find me!
Thanks to the kindness and generosity of Gaijin for Life Luke Elliot and his lovely wife Yuko, I am now the proud owner of the legendary THUMPER!
Thumper is a 1993 Nissan Primera that any regular reader of Luke's blog will be very familiar with by now. Before the old Thumpster lived in Shimokita he belonged to a long list of Goshogawara JETs, the last being Autumn and Jacob Witt. Poor old Thumpy was about to meet his destiny in one of Aomori's many convenient roadside junkyards when Luke noticed my online cries for vehicular help. There's no sense in me recounting the details of the emotional handing over ceremony as Luke has already done an excellent job of it here.
Luke bids Thumper a tearful adieu.
Anyway, thanks to Luke and I this precious artifact of Aomori JET history has been saved from the gallows for at least another few months. Even though I've only had Thumper a few days now I feel right at home in him since he's actually quite similar to my old car in a lot of ways, except for one important detail: No stickers! Fortunately I made sure to save an important artifact from my old car and gave it a new home on Thumper's dash.
Will my successor want breath new life into Thumper when I leave in August? I sure hope so, because if he or she does it will not only preserve an important part of Aomori JET history, but it will also save me 300 bucks in recycling fees.
I never knew former sumo grand champion, and current kids TV star Konishiki released an album a while back, until I read this interesting article about pro-athletes turned rappers.
Yesterday I was asked to listen to students as they gave short speeches about "an impressive memory" they have from their childhood. Not surprisingly, most of the speeches were about pets dying, winning the big game or hearing a favorite band for the first time. Most of these speeches didn't leave much of an impression on my memory, but there were two somewhat odd speeches that I can't forget.
One boy told a poignant tale about how he "disappointed a sea lion" once when he visited an aquarium. He was to feed a fish to a sea lion, but he somehow messed up and the sea lion didn't get to eat the fish. He said the sea lion looked very sad and he felt really sorry for it.
Another boy spoke about a time when he was traveling by train with his grandparents. Out of the blue, his grandfather asked the train conductor to stop the train in between two stations and then got off without telling him or his grandmother why. Later that day he was relieved to find his grandfather again at Nagoya station.
I of course had to ask the obvious question afterwards of "Did you ever find out why he got off?", but the boy replied that he still doesn't know the reason. I guess I'll never know either, and perhaps that's why his speech has made such a lasting impression on me.
These speeches got me thinking about my own lasting memories from childhood. Unlike some people, I have a really tough time remembering most events of my childhood. If I had to give a speech about my "impressive childhood memory" it would likely be of the boring variety and relate to the deaths of the family cat 'Paku' or budgie 'Fredrick'. For me the latter death was more traumatic as my recklessness was in part responsible for poor Freddie's untimely demise. I know the former event was more traumatic for my younger brother, mostly due to how I tactlessly broke the news to him with the question "Guess how many cats we have?".
Anyway, I was already in a reflective mood when I came across this post on BoingBoing that really jolted the old memory bone. It's about a 160 year old German children's book called 'Struwwelpeter' that puts the tales of the Brother's Grimm to shame in terms of its gruesomeness. This book was a regular fixture at bedtime in the Patterson household, and its graphic illustrations of children having their thumbs cut off and dying from starvation were shocking enough to stay with me all these years. A new version of the book has been published today, but I think its cutesy Power Puff-esque illustrations undermine the whole point of the original book, namely to scare kids into believing that there are very serious consequences to acting naughty.
There are only a small handful of books I still remember from my childhood, and even though it was in German and impossible for me to read, Struwwelpeter is probably the most memorable of them all. I'd like to think that overall I'm a pretty well adjusted guy. I don't throw kittens down stairs, insult people of other races, go walking in bad weather, and I certainly don't play with matches. Perhaps much of the credit for this should go to the wisdom I gained at an early age from the scary tales of Struwwelpeter.
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