Archive for February, 2009


Recently, I had the opportunity to go onto Misawa Air Base for some good ol’ American food shopping. Of course, the base boasts more than just a grocery store – bowling alley, climbing wall, movie theater, golf course, and some planes to name a few – but my primary goal was finding crunchy peanut butter. Once I passed through the automatic sliding doors, though, I found something else entirely: reverse culture shock. Now, I’ve gotten lost in a town full of incomprehensible kanji signs, contorted my body into ridiculous shapes to handle squat toilets, and had tiny fingers poked up my butt; in other words, I know culture shock. But I was unprepared and completely taken aback by its reversal. Here are a few things that may seem normal to you, but put me in a daze:


Rude (or maybe just not ridiculously nice) Store Clerks

Shopping Carts (have they always been that big?)

ESPN College Basketball


Ambient conversation I can understand



Not being a giant (or being in the proximity of other giants)

I knew it was bad when someone asked if I was in line, only to realize I had been staring at those grocery conveyer belts at the check out counters. And that was only a grocery store, just a taste of reverse culture shock (get it?). What’s going to happen when I’m back in the States and go into a sports bar…or Walmart…or an SUV?!

Why I Should Never Have Passed 3rd Grade Art

This week, my 9th graders read a Japanese folk tale in English. My Japanese English teacher thought some words would be difficult to understand, so she asked that I illustrate their meanings.

Clearly, she’s never seen me draw.

(Mouse over each picture for a special surprise!)

It's not a girl's hand; I just thought that was the best color to use for fingernails.

Try it - you won't believe the difference between your two frowns.

Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear; Fuzzy Wuzzy still is a bear; Don't poke Fuzzy Wuzzy.

It's not romantic unless your arms are pointed straight out.

They look like turtles.

Why did he throw a red pepper? Because I already drew the raccoon.

The kids laughed hysterically when they first saw this. They were disappointed to learn it was just mud.


This last one is the exception. I blacked-out for a few minutes, and when I came to, this magnificent anteater-raccoon lay before me.


To pass the dog days of winter, my free time generally consists of two things: skiing and hibernation. Whereas the first is fairly self-explanatory, hibernation involves bunking up in my or Taka’s heated room, playing Halo, bouncing on my ball, and, most recently, watching documentaries. I’m not sure how my interest began (probably boredom), but it’s now become routine to check, find a documentary that has a high TomatoMeter ranking, type into Google “Watch [name of documentary] online”, and soak it up. Questionably legal but highly informative, I’ve gained many a’ random fact about an assortment of topics, including: History of big wave surfing; Warming of the globe; Mating rituals of penguins; Getting a man on the moon; History of marijuana in the U.S.; 11 lessons from Robert S. McNamara; A French tightrope-walker’s quest to traverse the World Trade Center buildings; Eight national spelling bee-ers quests to be #1; What’s up with U.S. healthcare; How Dogtown’s Z-boys invented vert skateboarding; Rise and fall of Enron; and Ernest Shackleton’s successful failure to cross Antarctica. From polarized party politics to fatty french fries, you can usually find something that suits your fancy. So if you ever find yourself staring out the window and seeing tons of snow, I suggest you go skiing. Then build a snowman. Then pull up a chair, or roll a ball, to a computer connected to the blogosphere, and let the documentation begin.

I guess it’s official

Round 2

I forgot about these…

These pictures and this video.