2008 July 14 Monday thru July 18 Friday.

2008jul18ricohcamera1 

I was not as hot this week, as it was last week, and I didn't need to turn on the cooling system.   

About a month ago, my wife received a used digital camera from her younger sister.   

It is a RICHO Caplio R2 5.0 Mega Pixel unit, and you can see it in the photo above/left.  Ikuko almost never uses a camera, so I have developed the custom of taking this camera with me where ever I go.   

It is by far, smaller than any other camera that I have, and it takes very good photos.   

Now, I will never miss another photo opportunity because I didn't have a camera with me.   

Thanks Yuki!    This camera will be well used by me.   

Not only does this camera take still photos, but it also takes motion video as well.   

Plus, it can also be used as a voice recorder for sound only.   

Isn't it amazing what electricity and magnetism can do.   

On Monday, I had my last lesson with an 8 year old girl who has been coming to my classroom for about 5 years.   

She and her family will be moving to Chitose because of her father's job.   

I hope they can find a good English classroom in that city so that she can continue her studies there. 

On Thursday at about 20:30 while I was walking the aisles at the next door supermarket, a beautiful young woman runs up to me saying; "ノーマン先生、ノーマン先生!" 

She came right up to me and we looked at each other face to face.   

I could not remember who she was, until she said; "I am Haruka".   

As soon as I heard that, I knew exactly who she was.   

I haven't seen her in about 3 years, but she and her brother who are fraternal twins  一卵性双生児, used to come to my classroom during their elementary school and junior high school days.   

Now they are both 23 years old and attending universities in California USA.   

How's that for a job well done, by all hands on deck.   

It's a small world after all.   

Be kind to your neighbors.

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2008 April 14 Monday thru April 20 Sunday.

2008apr20buddingtree02

The second week of back to school.   

Another good year is on the horizon with fresh faces, and motivated young people, starting off on their life adventures.   

I too, have been trying to make a comeback, of sorts. 

When the cycling roads become completely free of snow and ice, it is WALKING TIME. 

Any time of the day or night.   

The so called Metabolic Syndrome, is just a slowing down of a human being's metabolism.   

And it is not just human beings. 

Horses and other large animals also develop メタボ.   

When I tried to do some research into the causes and remedies for Metabolic Syndrome on the World Wide Web,  I was NOT able to find any consensual conclusion, as to the reason why some animals get obese, and others don't.   

I have thought about this topic for many years, and the only thing I can say with certainty, is that in modern society people tend to become sedentary.   

They sit at a desk or table, and use their mouths for speaking and their hands for gestures, to do their daily work, and get a paycheck.   

People who use their physical bodies, to do their jobs, from day to day, are much less likely to develop metabolic syndrome.   

I am a professional language teacher, and I spend most of my working hours sitting in a chair, or standing in the front of a classroom talking.   

I do not get anywhere near enough physical exercise, especially during the winter months when there is a lot of snow everywhere.   

Starting last Sunday, I pledged to myself, to go for a walk 5 or 6 times a week, for between 30 minutes and 120 minutes, each and every time.   

I must do this in order to speed up my metabolism again, so that I can lose weight, and get back to my normal body size of a 34 to 36 inch waist.   

I have many pairs of Levi 501 Jeans sitting in boxes, just waiting to be worn again.   

To increase the effectiveness of my time spent walking, I also wear weights on my wrists of between 1.0 kilograms and 2.0 kilograms.   

In this way, by moving my arms around while I am walking, I burn more calories and strengthen my upper body muscles at the same time.   

The only time I have to go for these long walks on weekdays, is after all of my classes for the day are finished, which is at 20:00 or sometimes 21:30.   

Nonetheless, I need to do this on a consistent basis, or I will obtain no useful results for my health.   

I mean, walking is such a natural and easy exercise to perform, I have no excuses for not doing it. 

WALK ON!   

On Sunday, I drove out to Shibinai to visit with Charles Hamel and Family.   

The weather was warm and sunny, with a high temp. of about 20 degrees C.   

We went for a short bicycle ride to a river bank of the nearby Chubetsu River and enjoyed the fresh air. 

I met more of his new neighbors also. 

A lot of very nice people live in Shibinai.   

This is country living, away from the big city. 

I myself would enjoy living there, but I couldn't get enough students to come to my classroom if I did.   

Oh well, at least I can go out and visit the place from time to time.

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2008 April 7 Monday thru April 13 Sunday.

2008apr13fukinoto

It is the START of the New School Year, over here in Japan.   

Everybody is busy with this and that, getting ready to congregate at the schools, and await summer vacation.   

On Tuesday morning, I drove out to Asahikawa University to conduct a class with some of the new freshman students.   

Using the computer lab again this year, I am accustomed to the random manner of interactivity with the students.   

A lot of them will be surfing the internet, and not following my lesson plan for the day.   

Others will complete the planned lesson for that day, and make progress.   

Different strokes for different folks.   

On Wednesday, I went out to the Kosei Nursing School (JA北海道厚生連旭川厚生看護専門学校), for a class of about 40 new freshman students.   

This class is always held in a rather large classroom, will all students sitting in their own little desk-chair combination units.   

Therefore, it is very easy to move the seats around and form groups for pair work, and other such activities. 

On Friday, I went out to the Dokan Nursing School 北海道立旭川高等看護学院 for a class with one half of the 2nd year students.   

There are more boys in the class this year.   

No problem there, in fact sometimes it makes things more lively and interesting.   

I had a private lesson on Saturday morning, and after that it was time to play the folk guitar for a few hours.   

Something I haven't done for a while.   

On Sunday evening, I was able to take a nice long walk along the cycling roads that run along the Biei and Chubetsu Rivers.   

No snow on the trail anymore.   

I was smart enough to wear running shoes, but I refused to wear socks.   

My feet stayed toasty warm, and I walked around for more than 90 minutes.   

During that time, I saw light in the sky, grow suddenly brilliant white and then fade back into dull white, as it moved along it's path.   

My first thought was that it is another "spook light", but it was too small and to far away to be confirmed as that.   

My second thought was that it is a man-made satellite that had somehow caught a momentary direct hit of sunlight, and merely reflected it back to earth.   

Exactly how this would work at night, I am not sure.   

But I did see, the momentary glowing up to brilliance, of a celestial object, again tonight.   

First one for the 2008 walking year.

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2007 September 30 Sunday.

A much warmer day than I expected. 

No lessons, time to get back to basics.   

This time, on the electric bass guitar.   

What a trip!   

The books and instructional CDs arrived from AMAZON DOT COM about one week ago, and I'm ready to dig in and learn something new, all over again.   

Even though I have been playing around on the electric bass guitar for about 3 years, I really can't perform the fundamentals.   

I can play a small group of selected songs very well, but as far as being a master of the fingerboard, not yet.   

This revolving autumn and winter season, will change all of that. 

With below freezing temps outdoors, and hotter than hot bath tubs indoors, it's time to hunker down and really get BASIC. 

On the bass guitar, that is.   

And many other things as well.   

What a TRIP!   

The photo you can see above/left shows pages 6 and 7 of a book that I just received entitled; Jazz Scales for Bass,  ISBN 0-7866-1931-7  an audio CD also comes with it.   

What I was practicing today is something called the CIRCLE OF 4ths.   

It is the major scale in all 12 keys beginning with the key of C. 

After you have played the 8 note scale of C Major backwards and forwards a few times,  you jump to the forth note of that scale, which is F, and then play the 8 note scale of F Major backwards and forwards a few times, and then jump to the 4th note of that scale, which is B Flat, and so on and so forth. 

Until we get to the major scale of G, which will lead us back to C.   

I spent about 2 hours this evening doing this exercise over and over again, until I gained but a very small insight into it.   

I need to do this exercise again, in the very near future.   

After busting my fingers, wrist and hands, I put on a generic JAZZ CD, and just let it flow to where it wants to go.   

The two hours of hard training today came in useful, and in an instant, as soon as the JAZZ CD began to play.   

Moving forward is always done, one step at a time. 

Whether you are crawling, walking, running, jumping, OR FLYING.   

Your choice.   

Mine too.      

Go With the FLOW.   

A Groove, is NOT a rut.      

A WAVE will carry all swimmers FORWARD. 

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2007 July 3 Tuesday.

Getting hotter, up close to 30 C with some rain in the late afternoon.   

Felt good and smelled good too.   

Country living, within a big city. 

I enjoyed driving out to AU starting from about 10:00.   

Great driving weather, just wish I had time to drive farther today.    Don't.     After finishing that class at about 12:10, I drove back to my classroom, stopping at two recycle shops along the way. 

I was looking for a used 尺八 but I couldn't find one today.   

I'll try again tomorrow.    Other than that,.......   

Oh yeah!    SiCKO    

The new film by Michael Moore.   

What a  Gwaud Awful coincidence this new film release has with the situation of Charles Hamel and Family in Houston Texas.   

Can you see the big picture now?   

I thought I had already seen the worst in this ridiculous situation, but when I visited CharlesHamel dot COM, again today, I learned that the price of passing a kidney stone, had just gone up again!!!   

Say What???   

Speak Truth 2 Bullshit.   

Bullshit dries up and sinks back into the hole from which it came, in the face of TRUTH.   

Phuckin' Xit!!!   

Slither back into the slime pit from which you have come.   

Get a real life you heartless bean counter EGO maniacs.   

Even if your bio-vehicle lives to become 100 years old, your light in the sky, has only grown dimmer.   

One step forward, Two steps back.   

Wake the phuck up, before you step back twice again.   

Old bean counters never die, they just fade into BLACK.   

A BLACK HOLE from which no LIGHT of any kind can be seen.   

Have a nice eternity, ya stupid phucks.

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2007 June 30 Saturday.

I got an email from a friend who lives in Houston Texas that reintroduced me to the Native American Flute.   

I was aware of this musical instrument when I visited the Southwestern USA in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado, the so called four corners region.   

I really like the kinds of Native American artwork and music.   

The flute you can see in the photo above/left is most likely a very expensive piece of musical artwork.   

I myself would like to get one of these flutes, but for now, my one dollar plastic recorders are enough of a challenge for me.   

One thing that I don't like about the recorder, is that I cannot make the very low mellow tones that are possible on a clarinet.   

Maybe I should go on a quest to the many recycle shops in and around this city, to see if I can find a used 尺八.   

I realize this instrument is very difficult to play well, but if I can find one for a reasonable price, I think I will give it a try.   

To see a video with the BGM of a person playing the Native American Flute, click here.   

In some aspects, it sounds very similar to the Japanese Shakuhachi.   

I must learn more about these wind instruments. 

I have spent most of my life strumming on and picking at guitar strings.   

I need to expand my horizons.

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2007 June 26 Tuesday.

The photo you can see above/left is of a handmade  徳利 which was given to me today, by one of my long time students.   

She has also been taking pottery classes since about two or three years ago, and she has made many various things. 

She made this one especially for me and my classroom. 

When I picked it up for the first time, I could feel the LOVE that she had put into making it,  over many, many hours.   

This will be a treasure for me, during all of the quests to come.    

When I say that I can feel the love which was put into making this pottery, I mean it in the REAL sense of the word. 

Not just the feelings of smoothness and roughness that our sense of touch imparts to the brain, but also the INTENTIONS of the creator, during the creation PROCESS of this piece of ceramics. 

Her thoughts and feelings and expectations and everything else during that time, are forever imprinted at the core 核 of this creation we call, HARD REALITY.   

HOW HARD is it, REALLY?   

At every moment, her hands were shaping and molding the wet clay into her INTENDED shapes.   

The painting and glazing of the shapes and colors.   

All of these physical senses that we take for granted every day, combine into many complex patterns of wavelengths that allow a person to really SEE what it is, that the INTENTIONS of the creator have manifested into, by observing its physical equivalent. 

The one that you can observe in the photo above/left.   

The physical manifestations are what we can OBSERVE. 

The intentions of the Creators ARE what we can SEE.   

There is a difference.   

A very BIG difference, indeed. 

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2007 June 15 Friday.

The photo on the left is another one that I took yesterday, inside the Taisetsu Arena, at the annual Flower Festa.   

In my opinion, the small bush in a tray 盆栽 art form, is stunningly beautiful.   

I especially like the miniature pine trees, none of which were on display at this location.   

This morning starting at 9:00, I had a class with one half of the second year students at the Dokan Nursing School, right next door to the National Medical College and Hospital of Asahikawa.   

Today, we did pair work using page one of my original textbook entitled Word Associations, the 4th word.   

It contains 6 sets of 5 lines with three words each, such as;  red    yellow    green     __________.    

You fill in the fourth word with what ever word pops into your mind first.   

Some of the students were absent today, so I paired up with the only boy in this half of the second year students class.   

Also today, I brought along my Rubik's Cube as a fun prop, and also to see how many of the kids in the class could solve the puzzle.   

Remember, I myself cannot yet do it.   

I have only learned the 8 step solution, up to the end of the second step.   

I gave the cube to various people in the class, and one of them was able to completely solve the puzzle in under 10 minutes!   

I was amazed.   

Right across the hall from my classroom today, is a classroom of the 1st year students.   

The doors were open, and there was no teacher in the room during this class time, so I walked on over and said;  "Hi!  Can anyone in this class solve the Rubik's Cube?"   

One of the boys in the class said;  "Yes there is but, he is not in this room right now."   

So, I said;  "When he comes back to this room, please call me."   

The young gentleman said;  "OK.   I will."    

About 10 minutes later, the young guy and his classmate came on over to our second year students classroom, and I gave the new kid the Rubik's Cube, and said;  "Ready?   Start!".   

This kid too, knows the method and was twisting around methodically on the cube for only about 7 minutes before he also, completely solved the puzzle!!!   

I AM IMPRESSED.    

I too will learn how to solve the puzzle completely and in a timely manner, but right now, I am more into playing the vertical flute (recorder) while walking along the river banks at night, or during the day.   

I mean, the weather is just so nice this time of year, and if I don't get out and about as much as possible, I feel like I am missing a big window of opportunity, to get close with the limitless beauties of nature, that only appear during this season of no snow.   

IT IS HAPPENING NOW.   

Speaking of which, I am leaving for a walk with flute, right now.   

Talk to ya'all again TOMORROW.   

Tomorrow, I have a very important message for Charles Hamel and Family so please check back again, at that time. 

TULSA TIME.

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2007 June 11 Monday.

It is getting hotter and hotter, every day with a high temperature of 30 degrees C, being predicted for Wednesday.   

Today was another busy day with my first gig starting off at 10:00 at the Chestnut Tree Kindergarten くりの木幼稚園.   

This place now has a total of 222 students!   

That is up from last year.   

They have no more spaces available this year, and a waiting list for next year.   Even with the declining birth rate in Japan, this school has more than enough students to fill its classrooms. 

The reason is because this is a very well managed family business that puts the students first.   

Everything else falls into place naturally, when the wants and needs of the students are given top priority.   

That gig was finished at 11:00 and I drove back to my classroom to eat brunch.  I didn't have much time because I had lingered around the shopping centers on my way back home.   

At about 12:55, I headed on over to the 神楽公民館 for my weekly 英会話を楽しむ会 which starts at 13:00.   

Today, I brought my Rubik's Cube with me to see how many people remembered it,...    when it first came out in 1974.   

Everyone remembered seeing it when it first came out, but couldn't quite remember what year that was.   

In 1974, I was in my third year of high school.   

That was 33 years ago.   When that class was finished at 14:30, I walked back to my classroom for straight classes from 15:00 until 20:00.   

The gentle lady who comes to my classroom every week at 15:00 on Mondays, cannot only translate old stories for children 昔話 from Japanese into English very well, she can also play the vertical flute (recorder), very beautifully.   

In the photograph above/left, you can see two of the three plastic recorders that I have.   

The pink colored transparent one, I bought about 3 years ago for a bit less than 500 yen.   

The brown colored one on the right, I bought today for only 100 yen.   

Prices have come down a bit. 

When I bought the pink flute 3 years ago, I was thinking about how nice it would be for me to sit down by a river or lake, or even somewhere in the mountains or along the coastline, and play some simple melodies while meditating about anything and everything, according to were my thoughts would take me. 

Unfortunately for me, I couldn't even figure out how to play a simple chromatic scale of  7 notes plus the octave. 

It was my very first attempt to play any type of wind instrument 管楽器.   

I had no idea as to how to make beautiful sounds with this pink plastic flute.    

So, I sort of gave up on it,...   and let the flute sit around and collect dust for about 3 years.   

Finally, a few months ago, this gentle lady who knows how to play the flute, asked me if I would play my guitar as an accompanist  together with her flute melodies of Hebrew songs.   

I said that I would, and as we did so, I realized the beauty of the music produced by a flute, when played intelligently and skillfully. 

My interest in playing the flute, was rekindled by this experience.   

So today, with my new flute in hand, I asked her to please show me how to play the most basic of chromatic scales on the recorder.   

She showed me how it was done, and I managed to remember 5 of the 8 notes that I need to play a scale in a MAJOR KEY.   

Thank you so much!   

You have opened up a whole new world of music for me.  I really appreciate it.   

In fact, after all of my lessons were finished for the day, Ikuko and I went for a walk along the river banks, and I brought along my pink flute to practice what I had learned today.   

Even after Ikuko went back to our home a bit early, I stayed along the river bank, because I wanted to continue practicing the limited repertoire that I had been taught today.   

Finally, I can produce some clear and clean musical sounds from the flute.   I am looking forward to learning more.  Much more.   

Oh!   By the way, I also bought a white plastic flute which looks just like the brown one in the photo above, that I keep inside my TOYOTA NOAH at all times.   

Being a seeker of Hokkaido, I am always packed and ready to go, at a moment's notice, to anywhere on this dragon head island, that I want to go to.   

All I need to carry out of my house to my van at such a moment's notice, is "cash"  現金 and a change of clothes or two, or three or 4 or however long I am planning to be on the road.   

On the road again. 

Playing music with my friends.  I just can't wait to get back on the road again.

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2007 June 8 Friday.

My day started off at 9:00 with a 90 minute English class for one half of the second year students at the Dokan Nursing School.   

I haven't seen these students since about the middle of May, so I asked them about how they spent their Golden Week.   

Some of them had to stop and think about it for a while, because GW was more than one month ago.   

After that class was finished at 10:30, I walked all the way back to my classroom, a distance of about 7 kilometers.   

Along the way, I stopped at the small Midori Ga Oka shopping center, to see what was new at the Daiso 100 YEN store.   

To my surprise and delight, I found a Rubik's Cube.   

It has been a very long time since I have seen or even thought about this very famous toy.   

I bought one, and played around with it while I was walking the rest of the way back home.   

Naturally, I couldn't figure out how to solve the puzzle, so I put the cube on top of my classroom table, and left it there.   

When students started coming to my classroom at about 15:00, they also tried to solve the puzzle but could not figure it out either.   

Then at 17:00, a mother and her 7 year old daughter came for their lesson as they do every week at this time.   

When the little girl saw the Rubik's Cube on the table, she immediately picked it up and began to solve the puzzle in a very systematic way.   

After only about 15 minutes, she had the top of the cube completely white, and the four sides all the same color down to the second row.   

The bottom of the cube was almost completely blue.   

I was amazed.   

The mother told me that her father had taught her how to do it.   

I was still amazed because the little girl had remembered so well, what her father had taught her.   

After all of my lessons were finished for today, I got onto the internet and found the Official Rubik's Cube website, where they have an 8 step video lesson on how to solve the puzzle.   

After watching the videos and twisting around on my new cube for about two hours, I was only able to get it right up to step two!   

That little 7 year old student of mine is a lot smarter than me when it comes to 3 dimensional number crunching.   

I will keep trying this again from time to time until I too,...        can figure it out.   

How long will it take me???    

I don't know so, I will keep you posted.

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