Thursday, February 23, 2006

JET Interview

For weeks I had been preparing myself for the JET interview. Yesterday, Wednesday, I finally did it. Just as an example of how nervous I was, take this into consideration. I hate getting dressed. If I had my choice, and the weather permitted it, I would wear the towel I used after getting out of the shower to school every day. I really do not like clothing, or style. That said, on Tuesday night I spent an hour and a half trying to decide between two ties. It was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, even though it was certainly the most trivial. But, at least it kept my mind off the the fact that this interview would be the deciding factor in getting this job which I really really really want and if I don't get it I have no back up plan or any direction what-so-ever in my life and I won't even have a place to live and I'm not even any good interviews and I really really really want to teach but I don't want to sign up with an unethical and poorly run English conversation school and what will I do if they ask me what I want to do with my life and I DONT KNOW and I say that and they say that I need to take sometime to figure out what I want and reapply next year but I know I want to do this job and I really want to work with children because they make me smile but I have no experience with children so I don't even know if I like children so it is basically just a hunch and what will I do if I get so stressed out that I faint again during the interview and they call the ambulance and it costs me $1000 and I don't get the job which I really really want...hhuuuuuhuuuuhuuuuuu...

You get the picture. So, faced with the choice of leaving my mind alone with itself or simply thinking "grey tie, blue tie, grey tie, blue tie..." the most trivial decision of my life doesn't seem like wasted time.

Amazingly, the next morning I woke up and felt like I could fight a bear. I dressed, got all my supplies in order and took this picture.
I walked outside, was attacked by a bear, and kicked its furry little ass. Well, not really. Actually, I drove over to Sung Eun's house to pick up Tazuko's little brother and his friend, who are visiting from Japan. I had asked Sung Eun if they wanted to come with me to San Francisco, and they agreed. I figured being a tour guide would keep me busy and keep my mind away from dangerous thoughts. Also, I would get to practice my Japanese, since neither of them spoke very much English. I met them outside the house and learned that their names were Takashi and Kembo. The drive to San Francisco was great. We were able to communicate, which was good. We arrived in Japantown 2 hours ahead of time, so we went to lunch. Here we are after lunch with Me on the left, Kembo in the center and Takashi on the right.
After lunch we walked around Japantown until it was time for my interview. At 1:00 I began to prepare. I bought a bottle of Poccari Sweat, chugged it, went to the bathroom and freaked out in the stall. At 1:20 exactly, cool as a cucumber (one that had just been dunked in liquid nitrogen, might I add) walked into the reception room. I was really excited. For half an hour I sat and watched a video about the JET program, which basically just got me more excited. Finally my time came. I was told to wait on the chair outside of room A. I waited on that chair for about 5 minutes and chatted with the girl who was about to go into room B. She was nice but way more stressed out than me, so I tried to encourage her. I hope she did OK.

Anyway, finally a harmless looking Japanese man opened the door and asked me to give him my ID. I entered the room. On one side of the room was a table with three people sitting at it. In the center of the room was a large table and a single chair. As I entered I was told to sit down. We all introduced ourselves, and the questions began.

Forgive me if I can't quite recall the questions or my answers to them. What I do remember is it was not that bad. One of the interviewers, the former JET, looked like she wanted to eat me. The Stanford professor looked like he was in love with me. And the Japanese fellow looked like nothing I said would make him show any emotion. The questions were easy, and I was pleased with my answers. Here is one example I do remember. Woman who wanted to eat me: "What is it that inspires you about Astronomy?" Me: "Well, I am from the island in Hawaii where the largest telescopes in the world are, so when I was in High School I had access to world class astronomers and a fantastic sky. But that isn't really what you asked is it. What inspires me about astronomy is the fact that a person can look up at the sky and realize how big it all is. The light we see could be millions or even billions of years old. And there is nothing humans can ever do to change it. It is the beauty of the sky that inspires me."

Overall, I thought the interview was a success. The only thing that I feel did not go like I would have wanted it to was the part where I was supposed to pretend that the panel was a class of students that spoke no English, and I was supposed to introduce myself to them. I did a mediocre job at that task. I used good hand gestures and spoke slowly, but I know I could have made it more interesting. Oh well.

When the interview was over the panel asked me if I had any questions. I replied that I did have questions, lots. However, time oly permitted two questions. So I asked if I would be able to add my TESL certificate to my application (yes) and if I could make my top choice for placement Kanagawa prefecture in the Kanto (yes). I gave them copies of my diploma from the TESL course and gave each of them a Meishi, bowed and left.

I left the building and freaked out again.

Then I met back up with Takashi and Kembo. A tour of San Francisco ensued. First Chinatown.
Then the Levi's store in Union Square.
The rest of Union Square.
We visited the Meteron, walked back to Chinatown, and drove to Fisherman's Wharf. We all ate clam chowder...
Gazed at the Golden Gate Bridge just after sunset...
Took a group photo...
And ate chocolate.
We drove over the Golden Gate at night, and were able to get this view of the city. Then I got lost in Marin County for half an hour.

finally, we retured to Davis, where Sung Eun was waiting for us. After dropping them off and thanking them for coming, I came home, took off my suit...

and freaked out.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Eating Around President's Day

Our first picture today come from something that takes up a large portion of my time but which there are not many pictures, get your mind out of the gutter! I mean the Star Wars RPG that Diego, Ralph, Rick, Sean and I play. I do not want to get into explaining exactly what the Star Wars Game is, but lets just say that it is essentially "Make Believe"” for big kids, and for us it is basically a social event. Once a week we get together for several hours, pretend to be Star Wars inspired characters of our own design. We rarely dress up. This picture is an exception.

So, on Sunday night Tomoko and Yuko came over to my house for a "Fish Eating Party"”. I picked them up, drove them to my house and gave them a tour. When the tour reached my room I opened my cabinet, removed two T-Shirts and made them put the T-Shirts on.

The shirts, custom made that afternoon, both emphasized the character "魚"”, which means "Fish". This one, Yuko's, reads "“トレントンで作った魚を食べた。まだ生きている。" This (complete with grammar mistakes) translates as "“Ate the fish made with a Trenton. Still alive."

Tomoko's reads "魚が大好きです。安全魚。" The first sentence means "Really like fish."” The second Sentence can either mean "Safe fish"” or "Safety Fish"” as I discovered. Oops. On the Front was the character for "Fish".

I was very proud of my shirts. They were fun to make and fun to give. I was also proud of the meal I prepared. Talapia, Snapper and Salmon, marinated in Tiger Sauce, Lemon Juice and Honey, all cooked on a bed of tropical salsa. Spinach salad with Walnuts, Mushrooms and Caesar Dressing. And finally, a giant pot of Rice-A-Roni.

We ate everything with chopsticks, because we could. However, Rice-A-Roni is next to impossible to eat with chopsticks, so we switched over to spoons.

A large portion of the rest of the night consisted on me trying to be entertaining. I will not disclose my tricks here, since I only have a limited number of tricks for entertaining guests and I want them to be fresh for when I need to use them on you, gentle reader. I had a good time, and I want to have dinner guests more often. I have noticed that I have an intense and growing desire to make sure that my friends have good diets. Here is the final shot from Sunday night.

I woke up this morning and looked at the metal sculpture that hangs above my head at night. It was glowing purple. Beautiful.
Anyway, after enjoying the beauty of the sun for a while I played around with Skype, did some work I have been needing to do, and set off to meet up with Kerrie, Mary and Cindy. Mary drove up from UCSB for the weekend, and on the way she picked up Cindy at UCB. I was very happy to see all of them. I felt like a dog whose master has finally come home, and if Mary were reading this she say that it's good I finally recognize what I am and that she is my master.
So, first we went to lunch, then everybody got in my car and we drove to the Jelly Belly Factory.
The Jelly Belly Factory was very crowded this time, but it wasn't bad. Here is Mary making a souvineer penny while in line.
I love the hats they give you when you take the tour.
Well, having toured the Jelly Belly Factory we were kind of out of ideas. What can you do in the Davis area when you only have 2 hours to spare? After several false starts, I drove everyone to Slide Hill Park. Here are me and Mary about to go down.
Cindy, screaming her way to the bottom.
Slide Hill Park is a blast. Anyway, after riding on the slide we were all ready to eat again. We went to Nobu's where I tried Jellyfish for the first time (unless I ate it in Korea, I don't really remember, there was so much I ate in Korea). It was fantastic! I really liked it. The rest of the meal was good too, and the company was great.
Here we are saying a temporary goodbye to eachother. I have begun planning a trip down to Santa Barbara to see Mary, probably in April. I really need to see her more often.
I came home and delivered a bag of Belly Flops to Ed'd. I then took this picture that makes him look like he is 500 pounds, and Ed'd insisted that I put it in the blog. Thus, a post that consisted almost entirely of pictures of beautiful girls ends with Ed'd looking like Jerry Springer needs to do an intervention.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I Love Spring

However, to date I have never had a thrilling Valentines Day. This year though, I had a pretty good time anyway. Yuko, who is a newcomer to this Blog, attended the same "drinking party" as me. At that time, she lost a grey, knit cap that she was borrowing from a friend. Thinking that I had some connection to the owner of the apartment, she requested my help in tracking down the hat. Well, I don't know the guy. But I took Yuko over to his place, we knocked on the door, left a note, then went to Slide Hill Park...
This was the first time I have been to Slide Hill Park with cardboard. It was sooooo much fun. I am going back again when I have a bigger box. Holy cow. Who would have thought that sitting on an box on a cement incline could be such a blast. I tried to get Yuko to do it, but she was in a skirt.
I don't need to explain this picture. Valentine's Day.
Alright, so why do I like spring. I love the warmth. I love the sun (even though it does not treat me well). I love the, um, smaller outfits. I love the fresh air from having my windows open at night. I love the night sky in the spring. But I have to say that my favorite thing about spring is the flowers.
When I see the flowers, I can't help but smile. I don't ever want to live in a place without flowers.

Well, today I was a very bad boy. I went to my aerobics class, but I skipped all of my other classes and instead went to the Internship and Career Fair to practice my interviewing skills...
Then I went out to lunch with Sung Eun. Well, I had lunch, she had pie.
This was a simple post. But that is OK.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

TEFL Certified and other shenanigans

I made a wonderful discovery recently. My camera, the Pentax Optio WPi, takes the best macro zoom photos of any camera I have ever seen, even though it's distance shots tend to really suck. As a result, I have been rediscovering the wonderful universe of very close up. This is a picture of Green Tea ice cream (one of my favorites) that I took at Osaka sushi when I went with my family on Thursday night.
I have been spending money far more than I am comfortable with this quarter, but it has all been on very worth while things. Mostly my health, education or friends. Except for one thing. So, I went to dinner with Tomoko on Friday night. Well, during my drive to pick Tomoko up I drove through a yellow light. Suddenly, there was a huge flash behind me, which startled me. I realized immediately that it was probably one of Davis' new red light cameras, which fine you...$370!! If I am actually fined $370 I am going to be very confused. I distinctly remember thinking as I went through the yellow light that stopping would be impossible and that I was obeying the law. I think I will contest the ticket. $370 is how much it costs for me to eat for a month and a half. Anyway, I was not upset by the possibility of going to court at the time, and I went and had a good Thai meal with Tomoko anyway.
Brought home what was left of the Thai food to Ed'd. Thai food "makes his toes curl".
The next day was my second to last TEFL class, and at lunch time we had a fantastic potluck. It was the only potluck I have ever been to where every single food was good.
Although, it may have not been a very good idea to have such a large lunch, since my brain did not work very well for the rest of the day. Here is me with some of my classmates after lunch.
The moon when I left class.
So, on Sunday we had our "practicum", which was sort of like a final exam. Everyone in the course had to teach an English class for 10 minutes. The night before I was very stressed out. So much so, in fact, that I got a head ache and a sore throat. I finally decided to play a modified game of 20 questions where I turned guessing what was in a box into an lesson in describing objects. The Santa hat was the final touch. At the end of the class, whoever guessed what was under the Santa hat won the object.
The actual teaching part was not stressful at all, an interesting contrast with the planning stage. After I sat down the instructor came up to me and said "That was really good. No, I'm serious. For a guy who didn't know what he was doing yesterday, I'm really astounded. You should keep at this." These were the marks he gave me.
And here is the certificate I got. It probably isn't worth much, but hey, I got my money's worth of knowledge out of the course.
The final shot of the class.
After class I went over and visited grandpa Jim.
Then went to Ryan's family's house for dinner. Which was also really good, although I was on the verge of sleep for half of the time I was there.
So what is next? Well, I still want to learn how to do massage, mom wants me to take accounting, I'd like to do EMT training, volunteer locally and travel around California a little. So this week I am back to my plan making. TTFN.