Archive for March, 2010

Brain Teaser

What familiar English word contains the three letters XOP in that order and all in a row?

Also, how cool is this?

Meet my students

While rummaging through my apartment, I randomly came across some self introductions my students wrote on my first day of school, nearly two years ago. Rereading them made me smile, and I thought I’d share some of my favorites.

Meet Kohei

I mean, who doesn’t want to marry an aggressive person?

Next, Meet Top Secret

Soulja Boy, tell ’em

Next up, MacArthur

Hiighwaay too tthe Danger Zone

And last, there’s Gundam

After all, when you’re a 50 foot robot, who really needs English?

Highlight of my Japanese Life

I just attended a two-song, after-school concert at my elementary school. Two teachers on electric guitar and two student singers/harmonica-ists. They were ROCK STARS! The rest of the students had made hundreds of paper airplanes, and during any of the vicious harmonica solos, there would be a flock of white planes throughout the gym. They encored both songs and received a standing ovation with poppers flying everywhere. It was awesome!

Conditioning Update

I heard the sound again…and it was a teacher passing out Kit Kat’s! Woo!


You know¬†Ivan Pavlov’s dogs? Each time he fed them, right before bringing out the food, he rang a bell. Eventually, the dogs began salivating as soon as the bell was rung, even if he didn’t bring any food. He conditioned them to salivate at the sound of a bell.

I think I have been conditioned in the same way…to the sound of plastic wrapping. You know when you’re unloading groceries from a plastic bag, or using Saran Wrap, or opening a bag of chips? Yeah, that sound.

An important element of Japanese workplace culture is omiyage, or souvenirs brought back from a trip. Whenever a work member goes somewhere, even if it is just to a neighboring prefecture, it is customary to bring back a little something for coworkers, as a way to show he/she was thinking of them while away. Popular omiyage are local treats from where you visited. Many times you can find boxes of these treats at Japanese train stations or airports for the last-minute omiyage shoppers. And because another important element of Japanese culture is hygiene, these omiyage treats are almost always individually wrapped. So whenever a teacher returns from a trip, the teachers’ room is filled with the crumpling and crackling of plastic being torn away from the treats.

What prompted me to write this post is just now, I heard that same plastic-y sound. My mouth began watering and I whipped my head around, only to see a teacher opening a ream of paper. I heard it again, but it was only someone fiddling with a plastic decoration. Then again, but it was a trash bag. At this point, I am practically drooling. I have been conditioned!