Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Week in Hawaii

I have given myself a lot of projects recently. I may have already talked about digitizing all of the old family movies, but this is just one of a number of projects that I have. I am also interviewing all of my grandparents and having them tell me their life story and scanning all of my mother's photos. Interviewing the grandparents is fun and entertaining. I get to spend time with some of my favorite people and have an excuse to ask them questions about their life. Scanning photos, on the other hand, is torture. But both projects need to be done in a timely manner. The photos are half faded already.

This is one of those blog posts that mostly consists of beautiful pictures since, by now, I have little recollection of what I did a week ago.

Here I am showing the movies that I digitized.
Vanessa during our snorkeling adventure.
It turns out my camera is REALLY water proof! Folks, if you want a good, small reliable, waterproof point and shoot camera for around $300 I recommend the Pentax Optio WPi.
I forget what these are called. Some sort of sea urchin.
Nick at our private graduation celebration last week Thursday. He was a little sick from all the shots he had earlier in the week. Yellow Fever and Japanese Encephalitis, he said. I think vodka. Ha ha. Kidding.
Beautiful strawberry.
My dad on his cell phone in the Kayak.
What I see when I Kayak. I always curl my toes when Kayaking, for some reason.
More reef.
Our neighbors, the Tang family.
Me, underwater.
Mangoes. Our tree is packed with mangoes this year, but they are not quite ripe yet. There must be 100 mangoes on it.
Nick underwater.
Grandpa Clay during his interview. I interviewed Grandma Mary the day before.
Oh, so here is a story. Yesterday, Grandma and Grandpa took me out to lunch.
Here is Grandma deciding on her meal. As it turned out, we all got the same item.
Afterwards, we went to the Shave Ice shop and got Shave Ice (かきごり).
And ate it.
It was fun.

So, last picture. Here is the Honu that was sleeping on our beach yesterday at sunset. Dad and I managed to put the Kayaks in the water and take them out half an hour later without waking the Honu.

I'll be back in California starting tomorrow. Next post: Napa with the girls.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Nick Graduates From High School

After 15 years of McManus/Bleechers going to HPA, we are finally done. Nick has graduated! I have pictures of the ceremony farther down, but first I need to set the stage.

Grandma and Grandpa D, Paul, Ellen, Vanessa (back from Syria!), Zia and Zio are all here to see Nick graduate. Oriana comes today, and Vanessa and I are going to pick her up. The only person who was not able to make it was Kira (Kira we miss you). Anyway, since everyone is here we have been eating together a lot, and as a result I was able to snap this rare picture of 66% of my Grandfathers. I am lucky because I have 50% more Grandfathers than most other people.
Here is Grandpa Clay close-up. He is very distraught because the camera that I gave him broke and he thinks that it is his fault. It's not.
And, of course, I'm in Hawaii.
Well here it is, the HPA 2006 commencement. Nick is the 5th from the left. Lucky rascal has a name that starts with "B". I had to wait until "M". Those of you not familliar with Hawaii may notice some slight differences between this graduation and American graduations. Our school colors are red and white by the way.
Here is Nick after getting his diploma! Looking quite pleased. I would be too. Now he gets to come to UC Davis, but only after an unplanned adventure in China with his girlfriend.
The girls preparing for their Hula.
The boys doing their paniolo (cowboy) hula. As I was leaving, Auntie Dena gave me one of the hats that the boys had left behind! It is such a great hat! Anyway, Nick is second from the left.
After the boys hula the entire graduating class sang Hole Waimea and then everybody ran out to the front to give each other leis. Grandpa D hugging Nick.
Here is part of the family with Nick...
And just Nick.
As a side note, we were sitting next to Masahito, who I played soccer with freshman year. He was the goalie and I was defense for the most scored upon team in school history. That was one of the best teams I have ever been on. I wish I had remembered his name. Anyway, he is moving back to Japan, and wouldn't you know it, so am I! So I got his e-mail and I am planning to e-mail him after finishing this post. Here are me and the Grandparents posing in the "parking lot" at HPA.
So after the ceremony, everybody came down to our place for dinner and I showed everyone the movies that I converted to digital format for Zia. That was fun. This morning, at 5:30 I went for a run and then went swimming in the ocean, all before the sun had fully risen. Then I wrote this post.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Shopping, Scrapbooking, Socializing and Santa Barabara

Let it be known that I do not find any of the alliterated words in my title that interesting. If I had gone to UC Santa Barbara I am sure that would have quit before my first year of school was done. Socializing with people I don't know is still a difficult and awkward activity for me, though I have made improvements. Scrapbooking seems like it is a lot of fun if it is your thing, and it isn't my thing. And shopping. What can I say about shopping. I hate it.

"Now Trenton," you say to me "I thought it was a policy of your not be negative in your blog. Are you breaking you own rule?" To which I respond "Thank you so much for leaving a comment! But you are wrong. In fact, while I do not enjoy any of things I have just mentioned, this week they were made tolerable, even enjoyable, by the company of good people."

The story of my week begins on Monday, when I picked up Boeun and took her to Forever 21 in the Downtown Mall so that she could return a shirt she didn't want. While she shopped for a replacement, I did my best give her some space and not be annoying. It took an incredible amount of will power and imagination to do this. The result of my boredom was several beautiful photos. This... And this...
To include just a few. Boeun finished shopping, and I learned that she had never been to Old Sacramento, so I insisted that we go. I told her that there would be free candy samples, to which she replied that she didn't really like candy. Sure. We spent quite a while in the candy shop and, personally, I had I really good time.
We then went to Hana Market, where I bought the 8 pound jar of Kim-chee. Then we went out to Korean food. Boeun treated me, to my distress. So that was Monday.

Kerrie and I have been planning a trip to Santa Barbara to see Mary for sometime. When I went to visit Mary 2 weeks ago, I brought various souvenirs and toilet paper (every good house guest should present TP to their host in my opinion). We wanted to give her something else, maybe something more meaningful. Well, as it turns out, while I have been spending my time and money practicing my tour guide skills, Kerrie has been using her time and money to learn about scrapbooking. Now, scrapbooking does not have much appeal to me. Aren't scraps things that you throw away or recycle? And books...well, I'd love to have a few less of those at the moment. Still, Kerrie was able to sell me on the idea, so for Tuesday and Wednesday we worked on the scrapbook. It was suprisingly painless. Kerrie handled all of the decoration, while I handled the technical aspects (printing pictures, cutting pictures, etc), and did the bizarre stuff. Like this...
And this...
Here is just a sampling of Kerrie's scrapbooking supplies. 18 different scissors.
I managed to finnish all of the scrapbook prepwork before we went on our trip. I stay up late Thursday night cutting the ~150 pictures that we had printed.

In order to reach Santa Barbara with enough time to actually do stuff, Kerrie and I had to leave at 6AM the next morning. Hence the following expression. It is the expression of a man who has only had 2 hours of sleep because he was using fancy, girly scissors to cut hundreds of photos down to a manageable size.
And this is how excited I was that gas only cost $3.04 at Costco in Vacaville.
Well, the drive went alright. We had to take some short breaks. One of them was here, at this vineyard in the Salinas Valley. Kerrie was worried that the owner was going to come out and shoot at us. Um, ok.
Well, after 6 hours of driving, with almost no blood left in my butt, we got to Mary's place. Here we are at a pasta place.
Here is UCSB. You know what they say about a school with a big clock tower...
After touring all around town, we went to another restaurant that actually printed out the nutrition facts of your meal on your receipt!! What a fantastic idea!
After that restaurant we walked around Isla Vista a little bit. At one point we were stopped by some homeless people who proceeded to tell me that I was a lucky man to be in the company of two such beautiful women. I heartily agreed, and tried my best to get away as quickly as possible.

We went to the Improv Comedy show that Mary and I went to last time I visited her, and again it was good. After that, Kerrie and I tried to concoct a way for me to keep Mary occupied so that she could finish up the scrapbook. So, Mary and I sat in her room and watched more Sex and the City. Finally, at 2 AM we presented the scrapbook to Mary.
I hope she liked it. At 5 AM Kerrie and I began to drive back to Davis so that Kerrie could make it to a friend's baby shower. In King City, at Burger King, she had the worst coffee ever. Avoid this coffee at all costs I guess.
After getting back to Davis, I had to get back in the car and drive to Sacramento right away in order to get Ed'd to the CSET on time. After dropping him off I went over to Sakakibara Sensei's house, where she was holding a potluck for some of her students. It was there that I met Jenny (shown in the picture below) who was the girl who discovered INTERAC and told Sakakibara Sensei about it. We chatted and exchanged information, and we will probably be seeing eachother again since we will most likely be in the same group for training.
And these were some of the other cool people I met. After eating and introducing ourselves, a guitar got brought out we started to make music. First James (the guy with the curly hair in the picture below) sang a Japanese song, then he and his friend sang More Than Words.
It was all very Hawaiian actually. Then I went back to pick up Ed'd...

Came home and wrote this entry.

So, on Monday I leave for Hawaii. I intend to recharge my Hawaiian batteries. Aloha.

By the way, I am going to work for INTERAC, in case you don't already know.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Well, It Was Purgatory...

JET still hasn't gotten back to me.


"Dear Trenton,
Interac Co., Ltd. takes great pleasure in offering you a position as aLanguage Instructor."

I feel good.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Happy First Birthday, 6 Billionth Voice

This morning, before anyone else was up, Thunder and I got together and threw my blog a surprise birthday party. The 6 Billionth Voice is one year old today. So here it is, the spectacular first anniversary post!Cue music. No really, that is announcement number one. I can now upload and link to any type of file thanks to the flexibility and 100 MB of free space provided by Google's Page Creator! Yay! This means that I will be posting sounds and movies which I at The 6 Billionth Voice Media Page, which can be found in the links menu on the right!

So what else is new? Well, again, I ask you to look to the right, now scroll down. See how I have increased the size of the advertising section? Allow me to explain. I put up advertising on this site to raise money to donate to hurricane Kartina relief efforts. Well, it turns out Google will not print you a check until you make $100. Current amount of money raised by the ads: $18.71. So I have decided to add more ads in the hopes that this will encourage more visitors to click on stuff, because every click raises cash. So please, I beg you, if you see an ad that is even mildly interesting to you, check it out. I would love to be able to donate this money.

Alright, now for some fun stuff. It took a while, but I have assembled certain statistics. As of the 2nd of May, these were the important numbers.

Basic Stats:
Words: 69,898
Pages as a PDF: 304
Characters: 365061
Pictures: 819 (120 MB)

Top 10 Names:
Dad: 25
Sung Eun (Grace): 28
David: 31
Hyelynn (Lynn): 43
Takaya: 49
Mary: 51
Kira: 52
Manabu: 55
Mom: 59

Page Hits: 2,268 (only from September 2nd to May 2nd, which was after my summer trip)

So, as you can see, I put a lot of time into this blog. Why? Ok, here comes the purple. I am not naturally an adventurous person, I have always been shy, and I am easily frightened. I have never liked these aspects of my personality, and I have spent the majority of my life trying to change how I am. Sometimes I tried to adjust drastically. I got through middle and high school by crafting a very strong and convincing false personality. I even managed to convince myself that that person was the real me, when actually, it was only a part of who I am. Relationships and College managed to basically destroy that personality, but also gave me an opportunity to start building a new personality which took into account more of my natural character. Still, I was not as happy with the new me as I had been with the old me. Until, that is, I began to take Japanese. To do well in a foreign language, a person must have courage, so I slowly rediscovered my courage.

Shortly after that, I began this blog as an easy way to keep in touch with people during my travels. But within s few months, the blog had become both a means and an end. I found that I wanted to have an exciting life, and needing posts for my blog was a good excuse. This blog makes me a better person, because it is like my conscience: always sitting and watching me, ensuring that my life takes the path that, in my heart, I want it to take. I continue to put so much time into this blog because the time I put into it is miniscule compared to the growth that it encourages in me.

Conclusion: I'm gonna keep posting, and you should get a blog too. So what if it is a trend and you don't want to "follow the herd". So what if you have nothing to write about. Try it. Maybe it will give you something to write about. So what if you don't like typing, post photos. Having a blog isn't for everyone, but how will you know if it is for you unless you try it?

So, happy B-Day to the 6 Billionth Voice! Keep commenting (how do you think David and mom got so high on the list? I haven't taken any trips with them, but they have commented a lot)! Keep clicking on the ads!
Keep checking! After all, as much as this blog is for me, I make it public for all of you: my readers, to whom I am exceedingly grateful.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Surprise Trip...

Well, I still haven't heard anything back from JET. I have no idea where I stand on the wait list and there is no way to find out. I am not even sure what exactly I am waiting for. Am I waiting for a spot on the “short list” or a spot in the program? Are they the same thing? Information is surprisingly hard to find. In addition, I have been waiting for 6 months already. Is the demand to do JET so high that they can afford to treat potential employees so badly? Apparently.

It was in the hopes of finally getting SOME information from JET that I checked my e-mail once again on Wednesday. Once again, no mail from JET. However, there was a letter from Sakakibara Sensei, and in that letter was a link to the website of a company called INTERAC. Curious, I went to the site. It seemed that INTERAC was in the same business as JET, except was privately run. I saw that interviews were being held in Los Angeles on Saturday, so, on a whim, I completed the on line form. In 4 hours I had received confirmation that I had passed the initial screening, and a more detailed resume was requested by the next day. I sent it in right away. Thursday morning, just as I was about to go for a run, the phone rang and my telephone interview began. By the end of the interview I had been invited to interview in person, provided I could be in Los Angeles at 9am on Saturday morning.

And that is how my journey began. I quickly assembled all of my paper work. Luck and begging helped me get my transcripts and a letter of graduation, which normally takes 2-3 weeks, in 15 minutes. Auntie Joni entered “The Dungeon” at HPA and searched all day for my High School transcripts, which I needed (thanks again Auntie Joni!). I went to Kinko's again and had a set of passport photos taken for the 3rd time (I have spent $50 on passport photos this year!). Finally, I called Mary and begged her to let me stay with her in Santa Barbara. She said that I could. So, on Friday morning at 9am I started driving to Santa Barbara.

I hate driving.

6.5 hours later, after one refueling stop in Vacaville, I arrived in SB. My first stop was the gas station so that I would stop being blinded by the fuel light. This was followed by the second most important stop...

I walked around K-Mart for maybe an hour looking for supplies for my the sample lesson that I would have to do for my interview. I also bought toilet paper for Mary. Toilet Paper: for the woman who has everything. Mary and I met up at 5:30, and once again, I was overjoyed to see her. I really wish it didn't take 13 hours and $90 to get to Santa Barbara and back, because I would love to be able to hang out with Mary more often. She is one of the funniest girls I know, and I have noticed that some the best aspects of Diego's personality are beginning to emerge in Mary as well. However, it seems like she has recently been going through a lot. Anyway, she took me to the beach, which she had never been to in her 4 years at UCSB.

And this is right before she did a face plant trying to jump over this stream.

Naan Stop. Haha. This is the place where we had dinner. Naan Stop. Heehee. Well, the food was good. Actually, if I had stopped before the Naan I would say that the food was fantastic. It was the worst Naan I have ever had. It tasted like ash, was too hard to chew, was cold and looked terrible. I can't understand why a restaurant would advertise it's worst dish. Maybe they just don't realize how bad it was. It was after all, staffed by naan-South Asians who all seemed to be ridiculously stoned.

After eating way too much, Mary took me to an improv comedy show. The show was...well...aside from the fact that there were way too many jokes about Cinco de Mayo and Mexico, it was funny. And this is Mary's computer, which may I point out is the exact same as mine and was purchased in the same week.

We went to bed and I slept very little. Um, perhaps I should clarify that statement. I slept very little because I didn't have a pillow. Not having slept much, I got out of bed at 5am and began to get ready for my interview. Mary wished me good luck and saw me off, and I began the drive to L.A.

I reached the interview an hour early. Good job me. There was a 3 hour seminar from 9-12 which was very informative. Basically, INTERAC is in the same business as JET. It seeks to provide ALTs to local boards of education. However, to stay competitive, it seeks to provide higher quality ALTs at a lower cost and with greater flexibility. They pay their teachers less to help lower the cost, but they also provide more training and support to their teachers than JET seems to. Also, they have the same work hours as JET, but provide more paid vacation time. And, they do not provide housing, like JET does, nor do they provide airfare. However, since both of those things would be my responsibility, I would have the greater flexibility that I have wanted. I was also generally impressed by the presenter. He was upfront about the problems of INTERAC (the lower salary and the lack of housing) because, he said, it was better for the company if potential employees knew about the positives and negatives of working in Japan before they went, rather than arriving, finding that they hated it and leaving. Retention of employees, he explained, was important because it is very expensive to hire and train new employees. And having good employees is helpful for the reputation of the company. Basically, INTERAC seemed a lot more professional than JET. Applying for JET requires you to everything perfectly and requires incredible attention to detail. Photos must be cut to a 3 by 4 cm size, documents must be fastened together in a specific order with a paper clip on the left side, and any irregularity will result in the disqualification of an application. INTERAC's was far more flexible in the details, but much more interested in actually getting good people. There was a phone interview before the actual hour long interview instead of JET's single 20 minute hot seat pressure test, which allows the interviewer to better gauge your character. In addition, INTERAC tests you on your grammar skill, which JET does not, and gives you a personality test. Basically, I got the feeling that INTERAC got to know me better in the 3 days that I have known about it than JET did in the 6 months I have been trying to get a job with them.

I don't know which job I would prefer, though either would be great. I like INTERAC's style better, but JET pays way more 500,000 yen (a little less than $5000) more. Also, JET subsidizes housing. If I did INTERAC, I would need to go to Japan with $5000 to get my housing in order and get me to my first payday. I don't have $5000 at the moment. I may be selling quite a lot of stuff.