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2008 August 25 Monday thru August 31 Sunday.

The last week of August, and autumn is just around the corner. 

My first gig on Monday was at the Chestnut Tree Kindergarten くりの木幼稚園 starting at 10:00.   

As usual, I was up on stage in front of about 220 noisy kids.   

See the photo above/left for details.   

This week I talked about summer vacation activities using big colorful laminated flash cards to make the English words easier to remember.   

One of the cards represented the word DRIVE.   

I even made up a new song the night before called MY CAR, that was simple and easy to remember for the kids.   

With my acoustic guitar in hand, we sang my new song, and a couple of other old songs that the kids already knew.   

Finally, all the kids came up to the stage one by one and we shook hands and said;  "Bye bye.   See you next time!"    

After my class, the kids got to go outside and play on the big lawn that the kindergarten has.  They even got served freshly sliced watermelons.    

My next class on Monday was the 神楽公民館で英会話を楽しむ会 from 13:00 until 14:30.   

This week, one of the ladies told us  about her family's 12 day trip to FRANCE, which started off on a bad note.    

After the very long flight from Japan to France, they arrived at their hotel, only to discover that the hotel had NO RECORD OF THEIR RESERVATION even though the family had a printed out copy of their reservation confirmation in hand, and showed it to the front desk clerk.   

Wow!  How is that for a laid back attitude about running a business.    

Actually, I have heard this same horror story before from other students who traveled to Spain and Turkey, arriving after a long hard day of traveling, only to discover that the hotel they thought they had reservations at, didn't have any reservations for them.   

I seriously doubt if something like this ever happens in Japan or Germany.   

Anyway, despite an uncomfortable second rate hotel room on the very first night, the 12 day trip turned out to be a wonderful experience for her and her family.   

Other students talked about various things, and we never got around to the printed hand out that I gave to them last week.   

No, problem there.  We can use it anytime.   

I have a thousand more that I can prepare on a moments notice for any class.

Tuesday through Friday was a regular school week at my little classroom.   

On Saturday afternoon around 13:00, I drove out to Shibinai to visit Charles Hamel and family.   

They live in a farming community, and even have their own little garden plots.   

Despite the rather small area that they had to grow in, they had an amazing abundance of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, red hot chili peppers, carrots and corn.   

When I first arrived and walked in the front door, I smelled something delicious on the gas stove.   

Turns out that Charlie was making a big pot full of   TEXMEX   (Texas/Mexico)   SALSA  サルサ  with fresh off the vine ingredients from his own garden, and the farms of his neighbors as well.   

I don't know about you, but I just love Mexican food with a big dish of salsa on the side.   

It was a lucky day for me too, because Charlie has so many tomatoes, that they are beginning to rot on the vine.   

Not all of them, just some of them.    There are still lots of green tomatoes that will become edible in the very near future as well.   

As a result, Charlie let me pick as many of the edible tomatoes as I could, and I picked a lot of them.   

After I got back home from Shibinai, I got out a big aluminum pot and started making a huge batch of my own fresh salsa.   

It was so good, I even surprised myself.   Fresh ingredients really do make a big difference. 

I hope I will be doing this again, in the very near future.

On Sunday, Ikuko and I took a long drive to Biei, Shirogane and Tokachi Dake Observation Area.   

The weather was perfect, and I brought along my video camera and new tripod.   

I got some excellent video of the active volcano, the surrounding mountains, the sunset and myself in a natural outdoor hot tub in the dark with a chemical light stick, making light drawings in the water.   

When these videos have been edited and finalized, I will put them on the Private Hokkaido channel on YOU TUBE.   

Please check it from time to time for new videos that will be COMING SOON.   

Tomorrow is the start of my favorite month, SEPTEMBER.   

The Autumn Appetite 食欲の秋 is now upon us.   Harvest season in Hokkaido is something everyone should see for themselves.   

Please come and visit some time.





2008 August 20 Wednesday thru August 22 Friday.


Most of the public schools are back in session as of Wednesday, and all of the students who come to my classroom were back at our lesson table as well.   

It was nice to see their smiling faces and hear their stories of summer vacation, time passages. 

On Thursday, the 13 year old girl who comes every week at this time, proudly showed me her Certificate of Eiken Pre Level 2 英検準2級.   

She passed both the written test, and the interview test as well.   

Before both exams, she and I and the other students in her class, did lots of practice for the interview part of the examination.   

It paid off for all of us.   She also had taken a good look at this website and expressed interest in being able to make the same type of website for herself one day.   

She further went on to say, that she has weekly computer classes at her junior high school.   

I asked her if the classroom was equipped with a BIG SCREEN so that every student can clearly see how the teacher is operating the PC.   

When she replied "NO", I told her that such a big screen in any computer classroom is an absolute necessity.   

She agreed with me saying;  "The teacher's lessons are slow and difficult to understand."   

Of course they are!   He/she doesn't have a Big Screen and Projector to work with.   

I wouldn't want to teach that class.

On Friday, the 30 year old lady with Downs Syndrome who comes to my classroom every week at this time, had a rather shocking story to tell.   

With the help of her mother and father, she explained to me how she had been KICKED OUT OF her hula dance circle, by some of the older ladies in the group.   

Ai Chan has been a member of this hula dance group for many years, and has given me many photos of their annual recitals in November.   

It seems the older ladies wanted her out, because they thought they could GO PROFESSIONAL without her.   

Hmmmm      Let's see, 60 to 70 year old ladies have a chance at becoming PROFESSIONAL HULA DANCERS???    Dream BIG!!!    

Anyway, Ai Chan found herself another HULA CIRCLE which she promptly joined.  Good job Ai!!!   

Don't let the TURKEYS drag you down.   You can fly with EAGLES.

After that interesting lesson was finished at 20:00, Ikuko and I got dressed up warm and went out for a veeeeeeeeery long walk together.   

The total distance must have been about 12 kilometers, and went like this.    First, we crossed over the 両神橋  that separates Kagura and Kamui.   

We turned left onto the long straight cycling road that borders the Biei River.   

This is a very good place to take a long walk at night because there are less lights on this side of the river, and the night sky is more clearly visible.  When we do the short route, we walk from RyoJin Bashi to HeiSei OoHashi 平成大橋, and then turn left to cross the bridge back into Kagura again.   But today, we didn't do that. 

We kept on going straight until we reached the next bridge, which is rather far away.   

This part of the route is much darker also, making stargazing an even more enjoyable addition to the walking exercise.   

So,... walk we did.  And walk and walk and walk, until we reached the next bridge which is Route 90 and passes by 1,000,000 Volts 百万ボルト.   

At this point in our long walk, we were only half finished.   

The remainder of the trip back home took us along Route 237 from HyakuMan Boruto back to our home near Taisetsu Arena.   

Not only was it a long distance for us, but I was also wearing wrist weights of 2 kilograms, on each wrist.   

It helps me stretch out and exercise my upper body.   

It also creates more weight for my POOR FEET, which also have to haul around my 99 kilogram body.   

Poor feet.   If can can lose some weight, will you stop torturing me?





2008 August 18 Monday and 19 Tuesday.


It's back to school for me an my students today.   

Even though the public schools don't  open until Wednesday, all of my elementary school and junior high school students came to my classroom today and yesterday.   

Some of them don't even live in Kagura or Kamui, so they had to make a special trip to get here.   

Thank you so much.   

On Monday from 13:00 until 14:30 I had a class with the 神楽公民館で英会話を楽しむ会, for the first time in 4 weeks.   

The students had a lot to talk about, and so did I.   

One of the young ladies told us about a trip that she and her husband took to MEXICO.   

She also brought along 3 photo booklets with lots of really nice photos. 

I felt very nostalgic when I heard her story and looked at the photographs, because I myself have also taken this same trip when I was about 16 years old.   

Of course, I was traveling with my parents and my skinny little sister at that time, but I remember that vacation very well. 

The route we took was to fly down to Mexico City and stay there for 2 nights.   

In Mexico City, we got to see the very impressive pyramids built by the Aztec Civilization.   

After that, we went to the Yucatan Peninsula and looked around at the various pyramids of the Maya Civilization at various places.   

I distinctly remember skin diving with a mask and snorkel off of the coast at Merida and other locations.   

I will never forget how clear the sea water was.   

It was like entering a whole new world, as soon as I put my head underwater.   

The young woman and her husband who went to Mexico during this year's summer vacation really enjoyed their time there.   

She told the class how much she loved Mexican Food (me too) and that she loved TEQUILA as well!!!   

She said that she had purchased 3 bottles of tequila and brought them back to Japan with her .   

I have to admit, I used to love tequila also.   

The really good authentic tequila is very delicious, and easy to drink.   

Therein lies the danger.   

Tequila is at least 40% alcohol, and some folks say that it has an extra hypnotic effect as well.   

In other words, it is easy to drink too much, too fast.   

Behavior which can lead to a loss of memory, and odd behavior in public places.   

I haven't drank any tequila in about 10 years, and have no plans to try it again, anytime, ever.     Unless,........

On Tuesday, there were two new persons who came to take a look at my classroom.   

Both of them have a definite goal in mind for their personal lives, when it comes to being able to speak English freely, and accurately.   

MOTIVATION is the KEY word here, because motivation gives birth to ENTHUSIASM  and enthusiasm gives ENERGY to DOING, and doing creates RESULTS.   

In Japanese, they call it SeiSeki  成績.   RESULTS.   

Literally, the "the becoming, piles up upon itself"    

That is how I read these two Kanji when used in this combination.   

Even dust, can pile up to become a mountain, is another way to say it.





2008 August 1 Friday thru August 17 Sunday.


My long 3 week summer vacation is finished today.   

Usually during this time of year, I go for long drives and camping here and there around this beautiful island.   

This year, I stayed at home.   

The main reason being, I had rediscovered my Digital Video Movie Camera, after having not  used it for about 3 years.   

I have about 8 Mini DV cassette tapes that I had filmed in locations like Otaru and Niseko, but had never transferred them onto a computer hard disk.   

So I did that.  Also, I was encouraged by the good results I had gotten from filming at the Hokkaido Newspaper's annual Big Fireworks Display on July 31, and I planned to do an even better job of filming at the Hanabi in Kagura held every year on August 14.   

I went to the festival grounds about one hour early, and filmed the trees illumination and the live music show on stage before the start of the fireworks.   

I was able to get a place right in front of the stage with an excellent camera angle for the upcoming launch of the fireworks.   

I had my tripod down low and was sitting down during the entire display.   

This time, I was careful not to make the mistakes I had made on July 31 while I was filming.   

I used up the entire 60 minute tape and felt really good about my filming session.   

Felt really good until I got home and attempted to download it all onto my computer hard disk.   

That's when I discovered the awful truth.   

The camera hadn't recorded anything at all!!!!   


I got out the owner's manual and looked through the back pages.   

I soon discovered what the problem was.   

The recording and playback heads of my camera were DIRTY!   

The manual also said that a message will appear on the camera screen telling me when it is time to clean the camera heads. 

No such message ever appeared.    

I went from feeling really good, to feeling really bad in the space of just a few seconds.   

What a fool I had been.   

I never thought that the camera heads were dirty, because I haven't used the camera all that much.   

I was wrong.   The next day, I went to a big electronics store not too far from my house, to buy a camera head cleaning cassette, and 3 new recording tapes as well.   

When I tried to clean the camera heads with the cleaning tape, I discovered that I had to do it three times in order to get them really clean.   

Then I discovered that the recording cassette tape which I had used to "record" the Hanabi in Kagura, was worn out and would not record anymore.   

I will not make this same mistake ever again.   

Next year for the Hanabi in Kagura I will use a brand new tape to record the marvelous show.   

In my opinion, this year's 20th anniversary of Hanabi in Kagura was the best ever.   

They even had the fireworks synchronized with the loud music that they were playing during the entire event.   

I really missed a grand opportunity to make an excellent DVD this year.   

I'll get it right next year.    On Saturday, Ikuko and I went to visit the family gravesite in Kannon Dai, on the top of the hill near the former Inosawa Ski Ground.   

The weather was very nice as you can see from the photo above/left.  Tomorrow, it is BACK TO SCHOOL.   

See you all again at that time. 





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