Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Resolutions

I made two RESOLUTIONS in 2014.
1. Drink alcohol only odd-numbered months. That means that I resolved (decided firmly) to abstain (not drink alcohol) in February, April, June, August, October and December. I succeeded in February, June, Ocotober and then this month December. However, I failed in April. I couldn't help but drink at the beginning of GW (Golden Week) a couple of times. And then in August we took a trip for ten days to the Touhoku area and it was impossible for me not to drink on this vacation. The result was that I did a lot of work, I also kept my weight in check (down). I am pretty pleased with the results.
2. Quit complaining about "bad" drivers. I like to complain. Just ask my wife. And I used to (before, but not now) complain about other people who drove their cars badly, in my opinion. I would say "He is driving too fast" or "She drove through the red light" or "He/She is using a phone while driving." And little by little my lovely wife started to say similar things. It sounded very bad coming form her. So, I thought it must sound bad coming form me, too. So I decided to stop complaining.
There are some other things I would like to "resolve" such as my character. But, some things are very difficult to change. As we say in English "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." But, I'll try.
My favorite soba shop closed yesterday

 
 
 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Hobbies

I have two hobbies: contract bridge and the violin.
1. Contract bridge is a game played wit a deck of cards. There are 52 cards in he deck. There are two teams. Each team has two partners. Miwako and I are always partners. The game is very difficult to play. That is because there are so many things to remember. Of course, there are many rules. On top of that there are many methods of play. An of course it is too difficult to explain. Bridge is very popular in America and England and in many European countries. It is not popular in Asia. My partner and I started play six years ago at a 10 week short course at Kenkatsu. We have continued ever since. Last year we started going to competitions in Tokyo and sometimes Yokohama. Members of the same level compete against each other. You receive (get) points if you do well. Currently (right now) we have 11 points. Some players have 2,000 3,000 or more points. So "We`ve only just begun."
2. Violin. I started practicing the violin 2 and a half yeas ago. It was on a whim. At 60 years old, I decided to take up (begin to play/practice) a musical instrument. It is so difficult. I can practice at my school when I have free time. That is great. I don't bother anyone with my practice. A teacher comes twice a month to give me instruction. I practice often. But, I am not very good. I hope one day I will be ale to make beautiful music. Actually, I broke my "e"string Sunday so took a trip to OchaNoMizu to get repairs.
Used violins on display at SHIMOKURA violin shop.
 

Monday, December 29, 2014

2014 Clean Up year

SUPER SCRABBLE ANSWERS:  flute  just/moist  quote/until huge
I got in a clean up mode this year. It actually started last year but this year I was gung-ho about it. I believe it was my instinct to prepare for my old age. I decided that it would be easier to use the energy to clean now before I get too old. Does that make sense?
1. Threw away lots of clothes. I don't attend RINRI meetings anymore (I am still a member but not active) so I threw away several suits, dress shirts and neckties along with two pair of dress shoes.
2. Dismantled (took apart) the tool shed outside and threw it away. We got a new, smaller one.
3. Took many books to BOOK-OFF. They were history books about America and classical novels.
4. Donated a lot of English teaching materials to the nearby elementary school and the FBC (Foreign Buyer's Company) in Kobe.
5. Cleaned out the Gurunie (attic) and the house. Got rid of one exercise machine, an end-table, all my camping equipment, towels, plastic drawers, sheets, blankets, old business records, a video camera, cassette tapes, a wedding gown, pictures, more clothes, a TV stand, and so on.
6. Got a new computer (with high speed connection) a new copy/fax machine (lease) and a new high-powered printer and a new camera (which is really a nuisance to use, by the way).  So, I got rid of the old ones, included one Galapogos printer.
7. However, I kept all my family.
The result is that we have more living space. I hope to continue on into 2015, too, but please don't tell anybody.
I visited SKY TREE yeasterday.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday

I'm off to Tokyo to Omochi-Tsuki with the Sumo wrestlers at TAKADAGAWA stable this AM. It should be fun.

Yesterday's Answers' QUEEN  or QUEER. Did you get it? And now, here is a SUPER SCRABBLE board for your perusal.
 

COOL WORDS: AVOID   THRONE   HYMN   MERGE   VISION    DOZE  And of course, there are four blanks. Can you figure them out? Answers tomorrow.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday

There is no PUZZLER today but I offer you this Scrabble board to check out. It has some cool words.
This is a SCRABBLE game for kids. We did this one Thursday.
 
COOL WORDS:BEES is connected to HIVE. HIVE is a BEEs NEST. Cool?
There are two BLANK tiles. Of course, Q   IT is a "U" for QUIT. However, QUEE    , has two possibilities. Do you know them? Answers tomorrow.
 
BTW today is my final day to teach until January 5th. What shall I do?

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Party

I have a contract with the Yoshino Houikuen (Kids Day Care) in Kawagoe. I got the contract through the RINRI Houjinkai group. We send a teacher there to practice English with the kids. There are three groups at the different ages from 2 to 6 years old. The teacher is Shaun. He is form New Zealand. He lives in Omiya (Saitama City) on the Kawagoe line so it is very convenient for him to get there. The lesson started three years ago with him at the helm (in charge) since the beginning. I met him just the once when I hired him. He came to my school in Okegawa for an interview. We have been in contact through e-mail ever since. The only thing I remember about him is that he is taller than me and is a skinhead. We met at the Christmas Party for the first time in three years. He is still taller than me and still a skinhead! He had a pleasant conversation. It seems he will get married next year. I stayed at he party for two hours. It was cute.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Chrstmas everybody!


Christmas is a special time in the United States. I suppose it is the same in many countries in Europe too. That is because Christian, especially Catholic people believe that Jesus Christ was born on this day 2,014 years ago. Catholics believe that Jesus is the son of God. His "mother" was Mary and his "father" was Joseph. He had no brothers or sisters. He was born in or to die for our sins. It is a complicated (difficult to understand) story. But, because he was born to die for our sins (bad deeds or bad things that people do) it is a happy occasion. It is a thing to be very happy about. When he was born the "Three wise men" brought him gifts. So the tradition still continues to this day. We all exchange gifts on Christmas day. We put presents under the Christmas tree or hang them in stockings. I think that is a European tradition. Of course you have to be a good boy or girl to get a present form Santa Claus. What did you get?
http://www.santatelevision.com/christmas-europe-photos/
Go to this site to see some cool pics from Christmas In Europe.
 The one above is Mulled wine at the Christmas market in Bernkastel-Kues in Germany

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Violin Concert at Viento

I had my chance to perform the violin on stage. I practice a variety (many different kinds) of songs and techniques. It is very interesting. Of course I should practice more. I feel it is only a hobby. But, I certainly do want to improve. It's the same as bridge. I need to study more in order to improve (get better). Anyway, I also had to introduce the three songs. First was MOON RIVER which we played twice. I played both times off key. The second song was "Where have all the Flowers Gone?” I played it well. The final was "Joy to the World". I had to stop in the middle and restart. I played it so-so. I listened to a recording of my performance. Of course, I improved over one year ago. But, I am still not good. So, I have to practice more. It's the same as any endeavor (challenge) that you want to improve. For example: English! Good luck to us all. The picture is of "EMARIE" the regular group. The guy playing bass is Hiroshi. He is the owner of the place. The lady in black is Mari. She is a piano/electone player/teacher and all around good person.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

December (Winter) Solstice

"Solstice" is a Latin word. "Sol" means "sun". For example, Solar energy, OR Solar panels. "Stice" means still. That means that the sun will stop and then starts its return north. So, this day is the shortest day of the year. By that I mean that, the daylight is the shortest. It is not a holiday in America. However, it is a holiday here in Japan. It is the Emperor Akihito's Birthday. On this day, a public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace The gates of the palace are opened to public traffic. (The Imperial Palace is usually off limits to the public.) The Emperor, accompanied by Empress Michiko and several other members of the Imperial family, appears on a palace balcony to acknowledge the birthday congratulations of crowds of festive well-wishers waving tiny Japanese flags. Only on this occasion and on 2 January may the general public enter the inner grounds of the Imperial Palace. When the Emperor ceases his greeting, the crowd starts waving the flags again and the Imperial Family wave back. Will you go?
 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Puzzler Answers

The weekend was over before I knew it. Here' how it went. Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

Saturday
1. Two kids lessons at school.
2. Violin practice.
3. By taxi to Kenkatsu.
4. Final two KenK lessons for 2014.
5. M picks me up by car to go to BeniBana Walk.
6. Buy "strawberry cheesecake" at 31 (Baskin Robbins).
7. Watch "All Japan Marching Band" competition with M and Y.
8. Yumiko is home.
9. Watch movie.
10. Sleep.

Sunday
1. Watch football on TV.
2. Wash GOLF.
3. Drop in at Okegawa Shinimi Kaikan to see Higahsi K "Oyugikai".
4. Bridge practice at KenK.
5. Violin concert at VIENTO.
6. Home to watch football recording (boring!).
7. Watch movie.
8. Sleep.
O-YugiKai kids (my students)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Puzzler Hints

Final Hints, too. We hope that you enjoyed reading them as much as we enjoyed making them. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

Home Project for December 2014: "However,"

「でも」 「しかし」 「けれども」 「だけど」 文頭で、"but"と同じように使います。

1. I don't like milk. However, I do like juice. 私は牛乳はきらいです。だけどジュースが大好き。
2. It's raining. However, it looks like it's going to clear up soon. 雨が降っているね。でもすぐに晴れるそうです。
3. I wanted to drink some more last night. However, I controlled myself. 夕べはもう少し飲みたかった。しかし、我慢しました。
4. I know it may be impossible for me to compete in the Olympics. However, I'll do my best.オリンピックにで出場することは不可能かもしれないとわかってる。でも全力は尽くすよ。

"However" may be difficult to use. However, you really ought to try it.
Check out daily BLOG's for hints.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Puzzler

This is the last Puzzler for 2014. However, we will have 52 next year. Stay tuned. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

Home Project for December 2014: "However,"

「でも」 「しかし」 「けれども」 「だけど」 文頭で、"but"と同じように使います。

1. I don't like milk. However, I do like juice. 私は牛乳はきらいです。だけどジュースが大好き。
2. It's raining. However, it looks like it's going to clear up soon. 雨が降っているね。でもすぐに晴れるそうです。
3. I wanted to drink some more last night. However, I controlled myself. 夕べはもう少し飲みたかった。しかし、我慢しました。
4. I know it may be impossible for me to compete in the Olympics. However, I'll do my best.オリンピックにで出場することは不可能かもしれないとわかってる。でも全力は尽くすよ。

"However" may be difficult to use. However, you really ought to try it.
Check out daily BLOG's for hints.
Yesterday's sunrise

Friday, December 19, 2014

Elections in Japan

Here are 5 headlines and news after the recent elections in Japan.

1.Voters fed up with LDP boost Communist Party The Japanese Communist Party won 21 seats — more than double the eight it held before the election — in Sunday’s House of Representatives election, as it gained support from voters averse to the ruling coalition parties.

2.Abe focuses on economic measures, keeps coalition Prime Minister Shinzo Abe got down to work on Monday to launch his third Cabinet, following the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito’s resounding victory in Sunday’s House of Representatives election.

3. White House congratulates Abe on victory “On behalf of the President and people of the United States, we congratulate Prime Minister Abe on the Liberal Democratic Party’s success in the elections in Japan today,” White House spokesman said in a statement.

4. Kaieda to step down after defeat “I deeply regret that I lacked strength,” Kaieda said at a press conference held at the DPJ headquarters in Tokyo.

5. Turnout marks postwar low of 52.66% The number of eligible voters for single-seat constituencies in Sunday’s election was 103,962,784. Of this number, 54,743,097 voted, while 49,219,687 abstained.

Did you vote?


 


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Another visit to the hospital

Yumiko is still in hospital. She is in the Saitama-shi Iryou Medical Center. It takes 30 to 40 minutes from our house to get there. It depends on traffic. Miwako goes every day. I must say I am in awe of her. She is a very busy person. She goes to the gym, toll painting classes, does housework, RAM English bookwork, cooks and cleans and puts up with me. She is very special. Anyway, we went Sunday night after a day of rest at home. This was only my second time. It is quiet in the hospital. I am sure 99% of the patients are 0-L-D. Of course there are visitors. However, as you can imagine (or perhaps you have experienced) no one is happy to be there. We arrived at 6PM and stayed till 7:20. We were in the semi-private room but then moved to a small lounge area. From there you can see the monitors. They track the patients heart rate, liver/kidney function, etc. At one point one monitor stopped completely. A long, steady "Peeeeeeee" sound continued. Only then did the staff react. No problem however. Eerie place.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beni Bana Walk

I finally went to Okegawa`s very own shopping mall, the brand new BENIBANA WALK. I must say I was impressed. Of course, because it is new, everything is spic and span. The toilets are big and there are plenty of shops. I also saw the PET shop that one of my JHS girl student just loves. It is on the first floor right at the main entrance. Anyway, M and I went to a couple of travel agencies there. We reserved a room for one night, January 4th, in Ikaho. We went to pay. However, my goal was to eat some ice cream at BBW. Another JHS student told me that there is a 31. (In America we call it Baskin Robbins.) One flavor I truly like is called Pralines and Cream. Much to my dismay (unhappiness) they don't serve that flavor any more. I got a similar one; it is called caramel ribbon. M and I also cruised around the second floor as well as the first floor. I liked the shops. They seemed roomier than the ones at ARIO. There is also a foreign foods/drinks shop. I enjoyed some window shopping there. I am looking forward to my next visit.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A toast

I did not attend the UESS (Urawa English Speaking Society) party last Saturday night as I was still under the weather. So, I cannot write a BLOG about it. Instead, here is the toast I prepared to give. I heard that they read it in my place. Thank you.


2014 UESS Christmas Party TOAST
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, good evening. My name is Richard Ostrowski. But, everyone calls me RICK. I am from the great state of MICHIGAN in the US of A. It is a great honor to be asked to give the TOAST for today’s party. Let me say at this time: Thank you Mr. Takeji Toyama and all the UESS members.
Now, do you watch the news on TV? Do you follow it on your mobile devices? Do you surf the net for the news? If you do, then you know that there is a lot of unhappy news in the world today. But, I suppose that has always been true.

And of course, everyone has their own trials and tribulations. Everyone has their own misfortunes. So, instead of all these negative things I want to ask you all to think of the good things you have. Your family and friends; Your good health; Your work; Your interests, your hobbies, your passions.

And, keeping these good thoughts in mind I ask you all to raise your glasses in a toast. I ask you to join me in saying THANK YOU for all the good things we have and to the UESS members for their kindness in having us all at this party tonight.
Ready?
CHEERS!
Thank you very much.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Puzzler Answers

Well, it looks like the Puzzler worked anyway. I had a quiet weekend as I am still recuperating from my cold. Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE

Saturday
1. Violin practice at school.
2. Two kids lessons.
3. Lunch with friends at Seigetsu.
4. Two Kenkatsu lessons.
5. Do not go to UESS New Year party due to my cold.
6. Home to play bridge game two hours!
7. Sleep.

Sunday
1. Watch movies on TV. Do not go to play bridge.
2. Take apart remaining parts of old tool shed and throw them away.
3. Write Christmas cards.
4. Read bridge.
5. Nap one hour.
6. Visit Yumiko in hospital with M and E.
7. Home.
8. Sleep.

Sunrise Saturday

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Puzzler Hints

I had to decide this day whether to go and do an all day bridge competition in Gotanda or stay home and recuperate. I wonder which I chose. I'll tell you tomorrow. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE

Home Project for December 2014: "However,"

「でも」 「しかし」 「けれども」 「だけど」 文頭で、"but"と同じように使います。

1. I don't like milk. However, I do like juice. 私は牛乳はきらいです。だけどジュースが大好き。
2. It's raining. However, it looks like it's going to clear up soon. 雨が降っているね。でもすぐに晴れるそうです。
3. I wanted to drink some more last night. However, I controlled myself. 夕べはもう少し飲みたかった。しかし、我慢しました。
4. I know it may be impossible for me to compete in the Olympics. However, I'll do my best.オリンピックにで出場することは不可能かもしれないとわかってる。でも全力は尽くすよ。

"However" may be difficult to use. However, you really ought to try it.
Check out daily BLOG's for hints.

A, B, C, D....E, F, G!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Puzzler

I'm a bit feverish (36.?) and my nose is still stuffed. However, I can still teach with the best of them. Bring it on! Puzzler: CLICK HERE

Home Project for December 2014: "However,"

「でも」 「しかし」 「けれども」 「だけど」 文頭で、"but"と同じように使います。

1. I don't like milk. However, I do like juice. 私は牛乳はきらいです。だけどジュースが大好き。
2. It's raining. However, it looks like it's going to clear up soon. 雨が降っているね。でもすぐに晴れるそうです。
3. I wanted to drink some more last night. However, I controlled myself. 夕べはもう少し飲みたかった。しかし、我慢しました。
4. I know it may be impossible for me to compete in the Olympics. However, I'll do my best.オリンピックにで出場することは不可能かもしれないとわかってる。でも全力は尽くすよ。

"However" may be difficult to use. However, you really ought to try it.
Check out daily BLOG's for hints.

Friday, December 12, 2014

To teach or not to teach...

I started teaching at Mida Kindergarten in Kounoso three years ago. I was quite lucky to get that job. I enjoy the kids. Then, two years ago, I started doing "after school" lessons there. They are on a Monday from 2PM to 4PM. The plan is get 12 kids in each lesson. That is, 24 kids total. With that, we can make the lesson fee low (cheap). It worked well the first year. Actually we had too many kids! I must say, that it is not easy teaching/controlling a dozen 4/5 year-olds and then 5/6 year-olds. Little by little we get into a routine though. They finally know what they are supposed to do and when. It finally becomes an "English lesson" after a half year (6 months). Things were going well. However, the kindergarten made a contract with a swimming school company to come and take kids away by bus to their swimming school on Mondays. That is the same day and same time as my lessons! I lost three students to the swimming school and now I have to decide whether or not to do the lessons again next year. A new challenge.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Errand Day

I was off last Friday morning.That means I was free until 1:30PM. What should I do? What could I do? I started the morning by jogging. I later learned that that was a big mistake. After I got home I checked my temperature. It was 36+. OMG! But I then took one piece of furniture out of the gurunie and took it to Hard Off. They gave me 300en for it. I then went to Viva Home to buy 2 mop heads, one kerosene hand pump (battery run) and some picture frames. I went to the car wash but there was a line of three cars already waiting. So, I came home to wash the car. I haven't washed the car at the house in a long time. It was spic and span when I finished. But I didn't do the inside as thoroughly (completely) as usual as I was feeling a bit weak. I shrugged it off and then went to school by bicycle to do some violin practice and Blogging. I am paying for it (regretting) doing all that work then with a fever now. Some kids never learn. However, the car is clean, the gurunie is skinnier (thinner) and we have some cool old photos in frames on the wall now.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Under the weather

Where's Leo?
We have an expression in English which goes "I am under the weather." That means that you are not 100% healthy. You probably have a cold or the flu (influenza) or some other malady (bad health issue/condition). Right now I am under the weather. It started last week Monday, Dec 1st, I believe. During the week I was sneezing and had a runny nose. And sometimes I had an upset stomach. If I ate an orange my stomach became upset. If I drank my honey drink my stomach became upset. Regular meals such as fish, rice and vegetables were OK. And finally Saturday and Sunday I had a fever. That meant that I had to cancel two Year End Parties. The first was Saturday night. It was the neighborhood Hanchous party. I came home after two Kenkatsu lessons to tell the Leader that I couldn't attend. Later that night I called the leader of the Seibu English group to tell them that I wouldn't attend the Sunday Year End Party. Woe is me. However I am feeling a little better after resting all day Sunday. We shall see.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pearl Harbor Day

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941 (December 8 in Japan).
From the standpoint of the defenders, the attack commenced at 7:48 a.m. Hawaiian Time. The base was attacked by 353 Japanese fighter planes, bombers, and torpedo planes in two waves, launched from six aircraft carriers. All eight U.S. Navy battleships were damaged, with four being sunk. Six of the eight battleships were returned to service and went on to fight in the war.
The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed; 2,403 Americans were killed and 1,178 others were wounded. Important base installations such as the power station, shipyard, maintenance, and fuel and torpedo storage facilities, as well as the submarine piers and headquarters building were not attacked. Japanese losses were light: 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured.
The attack came as a profound shock to the American people and led directly to the American entry into World War II in both the Pacific and European theaters. The following day, December 8, the United States declared war on Japan.
 
Photograph of Battleship Row taken from a Japanese plane at the beginning of the attack. The explosion in the center is a torpedo strike on the USS West Virginia. Two attacking Japanese planes can be seen: one over the USS Neosho and one over the naval yard. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Puzzler Answers

This weekend just didn't go as planned. "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. "Puzzler Answers: NO! VERY SORRY! There is some problem with my Puzzler Page. I hope it will be better (as well as me) next week.

Saturday
1. No Jog. Got a cold.
2. To school to teach two kids lessons 9 to 11.
3. Violin practice.
4. To Kenkatsu to teach 2 adult lessons 1:15 to 4:45.
5. go home to tell Kaicho I can't attend Year End Party.
6. Call Seibu group to say thawt I cannot attend Sunday's Year End Party.
7. Relax.
8. Watch TV.
9. Sleep.

Sunday
1. Wake up. Fever at 66.4
2. Study bridge.
3. Watch CNN news.
4. BLOG.
5. Write special RAM English write-up for students.
6. Write TOAST for UESS party.
7. Watch "Fores Gump". Cool.
8. Talk to my cat.
9. Sleep.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Puzzler Hints

And now it's Dry Sunday Number 1. And I will attend a lunch party with students. Check out the new Home Project. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

Home Project for December 2014: "However,"

「でも」 「しかし」 「けれども」 「だけど」 文頭で、"but"と同じように使います。

1. I don't like milk. However, I do like juice. 私は牛乳はきらいです。だけどジュースが大好き。
2. It's raining. However, it looks like it's going to clear up soon. 雨が降っているね。でもすぐに晴れるそうです。
3. I wanted to drink some more last night. However, I controlled myself. 夕べはもう少し飲みたかった。しかし、我慢しました。
4. I know it may be impossible for me to compete in the Olympics. However, I'll do my best.オリンピックにで出場することは不可能かもしれないとわかってる。でも全力は尽くすよ。

"However" may be difficlut to use. However, you really ought to try it.
Check out daily BLOG's for hints.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Puzzler

It's December, the final month of the year...again. However, it's not the end of the world. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

Home Project for December 2014: "However,"

「でも」 「しかし」 「けれども」 「だけど」 文頭で、"but"と同じように使います。

1. I don't like milk. However, I do like juice. 私は牛乳はきらいです。だけどジュースが大好き。
2. It's raining. However, it looks like it's going to clear up soon. 雨が降っているね。でもすぐに晴れるそうです。
3. I wanted to drink some more last night. However, I controlled myself. 夕べはもう少し飲みたかった。しかし、我慢しました。
4. I know it may be impossible for me to compete in the Olympics. However, I'll do my best.オリンピックにで出場することは不可能かもしれないとわかってる。でも全力は尽くすよ。

"However" may be difficlut to use. However, you really ought to try it.
Check out daily BLOG's for hints.

Ths is the gurunie 3 months ago

Friday, December 5, 2014

Revisiting the Gurunie

I open the trap door in the ceiling. I use a metal stick with a rubber handle. The door pulls down at 45 degrees. I then use the stick to pull down the folding stairs. They fold down into a stairway. It is not "a Stairway to Heaven." as Led Zeppelin sang about. It is a stairway to our gurunie OR attic. It is a storage room under our house roof. I have come to know it very well this year. I have been up there perhaps (maybe) 2 dozen (12) times in 2014. My goal is to remove all unnecessary items (things) from it. My goal is to make space for other things that we want to keep for the future. We have found that it is difficult to determine (decide) what is valuable and what is not. However, I believe that we are almost finished with this project (task/job). There are still a few things that are on hold. That is, we cannot decide what to do with them just yet. However, there is one item that has become unnecessary. I cannot say what it is. It's a secret. I will remove it today. Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

In hospital

Miwako's mother, Yumiko, is near 80 years old. She is a grand lady. We all live together here in Ageo. She cooks, cleans the house, washes the clothes all with Miwako. Miwako and Yumiko are best friends, too. Yumiko is also the gardener around our little house. There is not much yard so there is not a lot to do. However as she does the gardening I don't have to. I really appreciate her for that. But, now Yumiko is in the hospital. She has been there before. This time she had a nagging cough for two weeks. She went to a couple of clinics to get checked and get some medicine. We all hoped that she would get well soon, but it didn't happen. Finally M took her to her regular heart doctor. They ran (did) tests and they found that she had water in her lungs. They determined (decided) that she should stay in the hospital for from one to two weeks. We visited her after our bridge session on Sunday. By the way, that is not Yumiko in the picture. That is a staff member at the hospital.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

From first to worst

Bridge! It is a difficult game to play. There are many, many things to remember. There are many, many techniques to master. There is also a lot of counting to be done. When we play in a competition there are many kinds of opponents. Some are very good. Some are good. Some are so-so. Some are bad. We are also sometimes good and sometimes bad and then sometimes in between. Anyway, We played on Sunday in Shibuya. There were two sessions so we had to go early.  We decided that when we have an early session we will abstain from alcohol the night before. We were able to do that. Instead I did a lot of computer work at my school and then relaxed at home watching football recordings. However our plan didn't work. We played 42 boards for the day. We were second from last in the first session and then near last in the second session. For the day we were dead last overall. Maybe we should drink just a little, eh? CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO MAKE IT BIGGER.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Shed Dismantling

My clean-up campaign at home and school continues. But I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. That means that it looks like the end is near. One of the final tasks (jobs) was to get a new tool shed. The tool shed is a container used outside to store (keep) tools and such inside. There are many kinds. They come in different sizes, shapes and colors. The first two that we had were made of wood. They were 20,000en or so. But they got weather-worn and had to be thrown away. That is because I didn't take care of them. So we got a new one which is made of steel. It was more expensive than the others but the hope is that it will last a long time. Anyway, two Sundays ago, I spent a couple of hours dismantling (taking apart) the old tool shed. I used a screw-driver. I think there were about 50 to 80 screws. Then I bundled up the wooden pieces and took them to the garbage pickup place. The new shed came a few days later. It is a smaller one. It looks nice.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Puzzler Answers

I'm sure I drank a lot last night after all that bridge. How about you? Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

Saturday
1. Jog.
2. Two kids lessons 9AM to 11AM.
3. Meet friend at Seigetsu. He tells me about  his USA cross country trip on a motorcycle. Cool.
4. Two Kenkatsu lessons. All goes well.
5. Back to school. Violin practice and computer set-up. Almost finished.
6. Sleep early. No drinking as tomorrow is an early bridge day.

Sunday
1. Jog.
2. Drive to Shibuya for two bridge sessions.
3. Play 21 boards (games). We are near the bottom = 18th place out of 20 teams.
4. Play 21 boards and come in last.
5. We are last place for the day.
6. Visit Yumko in hospital.
7. Review bridge at Taro.
8. Drink at Taro.
9. Home by Daikou.
Happy bridge director



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Puzzler Hints

And we are off to bridge today. There is an AM and a PM session so we have to leave home at 8AM. I'm sure glad tha I didn't drink last night. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.
HOME PROJECT for November 2014:  “anyway”
 
"anyway" はネイティブが会話の中でよく使う言葉です。
今回は、2種類の用法を試してみましょう。
 
1.「しかしながら」「それにもかかわらず」(=however) ...文末
        It was very expensive but she bought it anyway. とても高価であるにもかかわらず、彼女はそれを買った。
        It was raining hard but they played soccer anyway. 雨が降っていたのに、彼らはサッカーの試合を行った。
 
2.「ところで」「それはそうと」(話題を変えるときに使います。)
        "I went shopping and then had lunch and then saw a movie. I'm beat. Anyway, what's new with you?" 「
買い物して、ランチを食べて、映画を見た。疲れたよ。ところで、君の方は何かあった?」
 
Try it yourself and check out the daily BLOGs for hints.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Puzzler

My final wet weekend for a while. However, I have decided not to drink the night before before bridge competitions, so Sunday will be my last. OMG! Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2014:  “anyway”
 
"anyway" はネイティブが会話の中でよく使う言葉です。
今回は、2種類の用法を試してみましょう。
 
1.「しかしながら」「それにもかかわらず」(=however) ...文末
        It was very expensive but she bought it anyway. とても高価であるにもかかわらず、彼女はそれを買った。
        It was raining hard but they played soccer anyway. 雨が降っていたのに、彼らはサッカーの試合を行った。
 
2.「ところで」「それはそうと」(話題を変えるときに使います。)
        "I went shopping and then had lunch and then saw a movie. I'm beat. Anyway, what's new with you?" 「
買い物して、ランチを食べて、映画を見た。疲れたよ。ところで、君の方は何かあった?」
 
Try it yourself and check out the daily BLOGs for hints.
 

Friday, November 28, 2014

Beware OR Be careful

U.S. Embassy Tokyo, Japan
Security Message for U.S. Citizens
November 25, 2014
Drink Spiking in Roppongi

   The US Embassy continues to receive reports of drink spiking incidents in Tokyo’s Roppongi district, particularly near the Roppongi Crossing area. 

   We remind U.S. citizens to exercise caution and maintain security awareness in entertainment districts like Roppongi and Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho, as drink spiking incidents over the years have routinely led to robbery and occasionally resulted in physical and sexual assaults.  
   In most drink-spiking reports, the victim unknowingly drinks a beverage that has been mixed with a drug, rendering the victim unconscious or dazed for several hours, during which time the victim’s credit card is stolen or used for large purchases.  
   Some victims regain consciousness in the bar or club; other victims may awaken on the street or in other unknown locations. 

   U.S. citizens have also reported being charged exorbitant bar tabs in some bars and clubs in Roppongi, Kabuki-cho, and other entertainment and nightlife districts.       
   Although firearms and brandishing knives in public are illegal in Japan, U.S. citizens have reported being threatened with gun or knife violence in such venues to pay bar tabs or withdraw money. 
   U.S. citizens have also reported being beaten when they have refused to pay or hand over money.
ANSWER FROM YESTERDAY'S BLOG: Independence Day OR the 4th of July. It is America's birthday so the date is always July 4th. Gottit?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day USA

The famous Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
There are a variety of holidays in America. I suppose there are in every country and culture. We also use the "Happy Monday" system. That means that many holidays are set to a Monday. However, two holidays are not. One is Thanksgiving. It is the 4th Thursday in November. This holiday has a long history. Thanksgiving means to give thanks, to God, for all the things that we have. It started (originated) with the Pilgrims who came to America in 1585. It also has a connection to some native American Indian holidays. Anyway, since this holiday falls on a Thursday, the next day, Friday, has also become a holiday. That means that we have a four-day weekend. Many people travel the country by car, plane, bus or train to visit and have family gatherings. I think it is like Japanese O-Bon. There is plenty of (a lot of) good food and drinks and relaxing. By the way, do know the other holiday in the USA that cannot be set to a Monday? Answer tomorrow. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bridge

Miwako and I decided on a new policy for when we play bridge. We will not over drink on the night before a competition. Actually M is a "good" drinker. That is, she can control her input. On the other hand. I am a "bad" drink and drink too excess (too much). And I have learned through experience that when I am hungover, even a little bit, I cannot play at my best. Monday was a holiday. We had a bridge competition in Takadanobaba. It was an "under 50" event. We currently (now) have 9+ points. We started out poorly (badly). We had four straight negative scores. We played 21 games so I thought "Relax and keep trying: just enjoy." So, we forgot about those scores and pushed on. It turns out that we won the competition this day. Not only were we Numero Uno (Number One) but we had our highest total score ever. It turns out those first three minus scores were good results. They even took or picture and posted it on their Web Site. You can see it this Saturday here. Thank you.  CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO MAKE IT BIGGER.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Computer assist

Miwako goes to computer tutorials (lessons/classes) every Friday. She certainly is a conscientious (serious/good) business partner. We make a good team, I believe. Anyway, I needed help with some areas on my new computer. She couldn't answer the questions and I couldn't find the answers myself. So, she asked her instructor, one Mr. Aida, to come and take a look. He said he would come on Monday at 9AM. He forgot. Strike one! So, we rescheduled for Friday AM as I had a rare morning off. He came and solved three problems. ① The keyboard is now using Japanese language. It was set for English. ② He showed me a way to input Japanese language on my Puzzler software. It used to work on my old computer, but the new computer doesn't allow it. ③ He made all the same attempts that I did to solve my e-mail problem. They all failed so I know now what to do. In the end, he didn't hit a home run but he didn`t strike out either. More work for me but it should be better soon.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Puzzler Answers

Monday and NO WORK. It`s a bridge day. HOORAY! Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

Saturday
1. 2 kids lessons 9AM to 11.
2. Bike to KenK for lunch and 2 adult lessons.
3. Back to school for violin practice.
4. Out for dinner and drinks with M and Mark and Masami.

Sunday
1. Cut my hair.
2. Scrub bathtub.
3. Beat and clean chairs at the school.
4. Take screen doors home to wash and store.
5. Clean and organize downstairs closet.
6. Take apart shed.
7. Bundle up shed parts and take to trash.
8. Relax and discuss bridge W/M.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Puzzler Hints

I hope that it is nice weather today. I want to do some cleaning at my school and around the house. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2014:  “anyway”
 
"anyway" はネイティブが会話の中でよく使う言葉です。
今回は、2種類の用法を試してみましょう。
 
1.「しかしながら」「それにもかかわらず」(=however) ...文末
        It was very expensive but she bought it anyway. とても高価であるにもかかわらず、彼女はそれを買った。
        It was raining hard but they played soccer anyway. 雨が降っていたのに、彼らはサッカーの試合を行った。
 
2.「ところで」「それはそうと」(話題を変えるときに使います。)
        "I went shopping and then had lunch and then saw a movie. I'm beat. Anyway, what's new with you?" 「
買い物して、ランチを食べて、映画を見た。疲れたよ。ところで、君の方は何かあった?」
 
Try it yourself and check out the daily BLOGs for hints.


M's B-day cake. Can you figure out how old she is?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Puzzler

A unique weekend as I am off all day Sunday with bridge on Monday, the holiday. What shall I do? Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2014:  “anyway”
 
"anyway" はネイティブが会話の中でよく使う言葉です。
今回は、2種類の用法を試してみましょう。
 
1.「しかしながら」「それにもかかわらず」(=however) ...文末
        It was very expensive but she bought it anyway. とても高価であるにもかかわらず、彼女はそれを買った。
        It was raining hard but they played soccer anyway. 雨が降っていたのに、彼らはサッカーの試合を行った。
 
2.「ところで」「それはそうと」(話題を変えるときに使います。)
        "I went shopping and then had lunch and then saw a movie. I'm beat. Anyway, what's new with you?" 「
買い物して、ランチを食べて、映画を見た。疲れたよ。ところで、君の方は何かあった?」
 
Try it yourself and check out the daily BLOGs for hints.
The lady on Kobaton's right shoulder is our bridge instructor.
The gal on the other side is her star pupil.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Happy B-Day

Eri, Rick, Yumiko, Miwako
My lovely wife, Miwako, had a birthday on November 15th. She is 4 years younger than I am and much prettier. We went to WAIZU restaurant to celebrate. This is perhaps our favorite place to go and celebrate someones B-day in our clan (family). It is a cook-it-yourself place where we can grill O-konomiyaki or O-manja. It is fun to make them because everyone can have a hand in making them. That means that everyone can participate in making them. That is half the fun. The other half of the fun is eating them. You use these little silver flat spoons to gather up your portion (part) on the grill and then somehow get it to stick on the bottom and then bring it your mouth. You can put mayo, sauce, nori flakes, spices, etc on it. Anyway, we all decided to drink so we needed a DaiKo service to get us back home. That is so cool and Japanese. I wonder if they have that in other countries. So, what did I get M for her birthday? Same as last year. Lots of smiles!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cousins

6 sisters. Where's Rick's Mom
I have a lot of cousins. probably most people my age do. My mother had 5 sisters and 3 brothers. My Father had two brothers and 3 sisters. I have 3 siblings; one brother and two sisters. My 8 aunts and 5 uncles also had a lot of kids. Ergo (Latin for "therefore") I have a lot of cousins. I counted 38. There may be more. Anyway, I called my Mom as usual Monday morning about 7AM, Japan time. It was 5PM in Michigan. I talked to my mom briefly (for a short time) when suddenly, I heard that three of my cousins were there! It seems that my sister had a party for one of here grand kids. As always, cousins and friends came. My sister is a real "Party Girl". So, I had the pleasure of speaking to Rosemary and Lorraine (sisters) and cousin Annie. That was really a treat. I felt very lucky and even though we only talked for maybe 10 minutes it was most pleasurable for me. I wonder if we will ever meet again. I certainly hope so.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Violin rehearsal

Mari is one of my adult students. She is an electone/piano teacher. She is also a very nice person as are most Japanese. I have violin lessons twice a month. I practice almost every day. It is quite interesting but as most hobbies it can be frustrating and tedious (tiresome/work!). But, I decided two years ago when I took up the violin that I would continue for as long as I am able. Anyway, I have an opportunity to play in front of audiences every so often (once in a while). I am pure amateur. But, I do practice and the challenge of playing in front of a live audience is the goal. That kind of experience helps to make us stronger, if only a little, as human beings. Anyway again: I have practiced with Mari (as I said, she is very kind) last year, last week and again next month before the show. We will perform at Viento on December 20th. We will play three songs. I practice them a lot. Wish us luck.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

K's Denki revisited

I LUV K's Denki. The new shop opened up this year and is just "a stone's throw" from our place. That means that it is very near. As you may or may not know I bought a computer there in September. I also signed up for FLET'S, the Yahoo hikari fiber/high speed Internet connection. With that, they gave me (us) the now famous 55,000en rebate. And it was true. I signed up for the TV connection also, but cancelled that as soon as the TV tuner came. I never took it out of the box! On top of that they gave me 5 more percent off with my Members card. That means that I get 10% off on everything I buy there. So, I bought a new camera. Anyway, we decided that we need an air cleaner/humidifier for the school. I went to K's two Saturdays ago. I bought one. The price was 35,035en. With my 10% discount it was 31,850en. So, I challenged the sales guy by saying "I think just 30,000en is a nice number." He agreed! So that was my price. As I said, I LUV K's Denki.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Puzzler Answers

Another good weekend. How was yours? Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

Saturday
1. Jog
2. To school for new lessons:  9 AM Eiken 4, 10AM Eiken 5.
3. Two Kenkatsu lessons.
4. Birthday Party for M at WAIZU.
5. Kushi Hide restaurant for ToriYaki and more drinks.
6. Crash at home.

Sunday
1. Up at 6AM...very groggy.
2. Drive two hours to Oofuna for bridge.
3. Play with advanced players for two sessions.
4. Session 1- second from last place.
5. Session 2 - last place.
6. Overall - last place.
7. Drive home - last place.
8. Birthday party with cake.
9. Bridge review and "discussions".
10. Sleep like a baby.

At the bottom.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Puzzler Hints

It was cold and dark this AM but I went jogging anyway. The stars were beautiful! Puzzle Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2014:  “anyway”
 
"anyway" はネイティブが会話の中でよく使う言葉です。
今回は、2種類の用法を試してみましょう。
 
1.「しかしながら」「それにもかかわらず」(=however) ...文末
        It was very expensive but she bought it anyway. とても高価であるにもかかわらず、彼女はそれを買った。
        It was raining hard but they played soccer anyway. 雨が降っていたのに、彼らはサッカーの試合を行った。
 
2.「ところで」「それはそうと」(話題を変えるときに使います。)
        "I went shopping and then had lunch and then saw a movie. I'm beat. Anyway, what's new with you?" 「
買い物して、ランチを食べて、映画を見た。疲れたよ。ところで、君の方は何かあった?」
 
Try it yourself and check out the daily BLOGs for hints.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Puzzler

We are going out tonight to celebrate M's B-day AND our anniversary. Congratulations everybody! Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2014:  “anyway”
 
"anyway" はネイティブが会話の中でよく使う言葉です。
今回は、2種類の用法を試してみましょう。
 
1.「しかしながら」「それにもかかわらず」(=however) ...文末
        It was very expensive but she bought it anyway. とても高価であるにもかかわらず、彼女はそれを買った。
        It was raining hard but they played soccer anyway. 雨が降っていたのに、彼らはサッカーの試合を行った。
 
2.「ところで」「それはそうと」(話題を変えるときに使います。)
        "I went shopping and then had lunch and then saw a movie. I'm beat. Anyway, what's new with you?" 「
買い物して、ランチを食べて、映画を見た。疲れたよ。ところで、君の方は何かあった?」
 
Try it yourself and check out the daily BLOGs for hints.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Saitama Prefectufre

Today, November 14th, is Saitama Prefecture Day. I checked the Internet and found this web site and info about our home. It's in English. You should check it out.
And, I don't have to go to the Kindergarten to teach today! Hooray!
 
Many people may not know exactly where Saitama is in Japan. Look at the map of Japan and find Tokyo. Saitama Prefecture is located in the north next to Tokyo. It is easy to remember that Saitama is immediately north of Tokyo. Even some Japanese people misunderstand, thinking that Saitama Prefecture is a part of Tokyo. Saitama Prefecture is so lacking in renown that even some Japanese people say, "Where is Saitama?" Remember this map and tell Japanese people that Saitama Prefecture is here. You will be respected as a foreigner who knows Japan better than some Japanese people do.
Data on Saitama Prefecture
Total population7,194,556
Area379,872 km2
Prefectural capitalUrawa-ku, Saitama-shi, Saitama-ken
Foreign residents in the prefecture88,734
The data is based on the national census of 2010 and a survey conducted by the City Planning Division of Saitama Prefecture.
 
 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bridge

Our most recent bridge competition was in Takadanobaba last Sunday. It took only 50 minutes to get there but we have to go early to wait for a parking place. It's free to park on the street on Sunday. There were 13 pairs competing this time. There was one other married couple besides us. I think the husband comes just to appease (satisfy) his wife. He doesn't say much. Most of the members are the same level (caliber) as we are. We started out poorly. On our first hand M bid very well to get us to 6S. Unfortunately, she didn't succeed at the playing. Then a little later we had a communication breakdown, or,  misunderstanding, or, failure. We encountered (met) a situation we had never seen before. I thought we should "turn left" and M thought we should "turn right". So, we got completely lost. However the rest of the games we played were pretty solid. There were 22 games or "boards" this day. In the end we came in 3rd place. We were just ahead of the 4th and 5th place teams. The moral of the story is "Never give up."

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Soap Keeper

It rained just a little this morning but I went jogging anyway. Now, for today's BLOG. I recently took on a new responsibility in my house. It is "Soap Keeper". Allow me to explain. I get Ivory brand soap from my favorite soba shop twice a year. Once is at New years and the other is in the summer. Only I use this soap. The ladies have their own. So, I put mine out when the bar gets too small. Then I take the too small bar to the Kindergarten in Okegawa where I teach. They put it in nets and hang it on faucets so the kids can wash their hands; very, environmentally friendly, indeed. Also, my sister sends me bath salts. I never used them until this year. As you may know 2014 is my "Year of Clean Up". I am always looking for things to throw away. Of course, there are things we never use. Well, we never used these bath salts so I tried one a couple of moths ago and have been using them ever since. We have a good supply as my sister is very generous. I expect a new shipment along with my bridge books and some teaching materials form home, soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sake Party

There are several students at the Kenkatsui Saturday lesson who enjoy drinking Japanese sake. You can see most of them in the picture. This group has been together for about 4 years and they are the core of the Saturday Kenkatsu "advanced" group.It is really an excellent group as it is entirely (completely/100%) in English. That makes it so interesting to teach because I can challenge them with different ideas or grammar points or word meanings, etc. The members have gotten used to it so they can appreciate and enjoy the lesson much more, I believe. Anyway, we have a party at the end of every 20 week term. The last time a couple of members and I went to this special sake drinking place, It has a standing bar and counters where you don't sit. You have to stand and drink your sake. As a matter of fact they only serve sake or draft beer. We reserved the upstairs room which was so cool. The food and drinks were delicious this time. I wonder if we will ever go there again.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Puzzler Answers

That was a good weekend. A very nice dinner party with friends Saturday night and then a 3rd place finish at bridge on Sunday. Yeah! Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

Saturday
1. Jog.
2. Two kids lessons. Have to change the times as 3 kids passed Eiken 5.
3. Two Kenkatsu adult lessons.
4. Buy humidifier/Air cleaner for school at K's Denki.
5. Dinner Sake party in Omiya.
6. Sleep well.

Sunday
1. Laze in bed.
2. Go to Takadanobaba for bridge.
3. Play solid for 3 and 1/2 hours.
4. Back for dinner and bridge review at Azumakura.
5. Home to relax with the TV.
6. Sleep.
Sake, anyone?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Puzzler Hints

Sake last night and bridge today. What a lucky Guy-jin! Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2014:  “anyway”
 
"anyway" はネイティブが会話の中でよく使う言葉です。
今回は、2種類の用法を試してみましょう。
 
1.「しかしながら」「それにもかかわらず」(=however) ...文末
        It was very expensive but she bought it anyway. とても高価であるにもかかわらず、彼女はそれを買った。
        It was raining hard but they played soccer anyway. 雨が降っていたのに、彼らはサッカーの試合を行った。
 
2.「ところで」「それはそうと」(話題を変えるときに使います。)
        "I went shopping and then had lunch and then saw a movie. I'm beat. Anyway, what's new with you?" 「
買い物して、ランチを食べて、映画を見た。疲れたよ。ところで、君の方は何かあった?」
 
Try it yourself and check out the daily BLOGs for hints.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Puzzler

Gonna go out with friends and drink some delicious Japanese sake tonight! Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2014:  “anyway”
 
"anyway" はネイティブが会話の中でよく使う言葉です。
今回は、2種類の用法を試してみましょう。
 
1.「しかしながら」「それにもかかわらず」(=however) ...文末
        It was very expensive but she bought it anyway. とても高価であるにもかかわらず、彼女はそれを買った。
        It was raining hard but they played soccer anyway. 雨が降っていたのに、彼らはサッカーの試合を行った。
 
2.「ところで」「それはそうと」(話題を変えるときに使います。)
        "I went shopping and then had lunch and then saw a movie. I'm beat. Anyway, what's new with you?" 「
買い物して、ランチを食べて、映画を見た。疲れたよ。ところで、君の方は何かあった?」
 
Try it yourself and check out the daily BLOGs for hints.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Bridge

We play in bridge competitions almost every weekend or holiday. I must say, we really don't do anything else. We don't even think about taking a drive to see the autumn colors or visiting A museum or the zoo. We have to leave our home at 11:00am to be on time for the 1:00 sessions. One session lasts about 3 to 3 and a half hours. If we go to a double session competition we have to leave before 9am. Since it's always on a Sunday or holiday, the traffic is light. We usually go to Shibuya or Yotusya. Sometimes we go to Takadanobaba or Ofuna or even Yokohama on occasions. The players are a mixed bag as you can well imagine. Most are ladies/housewives. 30% are retired gents. They all look different and they all dress differently. The coolest thing is that they all have unique mannerisms when they play. Counting cards, playing the cards, playing the bid cards or telling the "dummy" what card to play are all peculiar to the individual. Couples are rare. It is a fantastic world that we have found. I feel that we are quite lucky.
CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO MAKE IT BIGGER AND CLEARER.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Kenkatsu Festival

The Saitama prefecture Kekatsu Center held its annual Festival last Monday. As you may know they have many kinds of courses available to the local people. They have a small event hall which holds 300 people. They have dozens of conference rooms (or classrooms). They have a gym, a restaurant, a tea house, a pottery making room, a music rehearsal room, sleeping accommodations, plenty of inexpensive parking and now a convenience store. I am sure that thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands of people, use this facility every year. It is 26 years old. I have taught English here for close to 20 years both private and as a Kenkatsu instructor. I'm lovin it! Anyway. we were at the festival to promote our bridge club. Lots of kids came by and we played cards with them. We gave them decks of cards and clear file folders as souvenirs. Our members did have some opportunities to practice bridge also. We were there from 9:30 to 3:30. A good time was had by all. Did you go there?

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Culture Day in Japan

  1. November 3 is Culture Day, a national holiday. It was on this day in 1946 that the present Constitution of Japan was officially announced. To commemorate this event, the date was made into a holiday two years later to foster the ideals of the Constitution - the love of peace and freedom - through cultural activities.
  2. The Constitution did not actually come into force until May 3, 1947, though, and so there's a separate national holiday, Constitution Memorial Day, to mark that event.
  3. Strangely enough, November 3 always seems to be blessed with fine weather - even when it's cloudy or rainy on the day before or after. For 32 years between 1965 and 1996, there have been only three rainy days on November 3 in Tokyo, according to Japan's Meteorological Agency. The agency has a list of days that always seem to feature certain kinds of weather - and November 3 is one such day for clear skies.
  4. A variety of events are held on sunny Culture Day. At the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, the presentation ceremony of Order of Culture Awards is held. The Emperor personally presents the awards - in the shape of an orange plant with a light purple cord - to those who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of science, art, or culture.
  5. Around this date, many festivals are held to promote the spread and development of the arts, and awards of various kinds are given by public and private organizations around the country.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Halloween

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, it was Halloween once again. I teach at the Mida Kindergarten on Fridays and it just so happens (just by chance) that October 31st, Halloween, fell on a Friday. So, I got paid to dress up like a clown and say 230 times "Here you are" and then "Sure" to all the little tykes at the K. Anyway, I have to dress up in a costume. I enjoy it of course. It is part of the American culture. When we were kids we got costumes and my mother took me and my brother and sister out "trick or treating". It starts about 5PM and lasts for one hour. It depends on how old the kids are. Most people are happy to take part by passing out candy to the kids when they come trick or treating. Besides candy we would get chewing gum, bubble gum chocolate goodies, tootsie rolls, jujubees, pez, soft candy, hard candy, but nothing liquid. Sometimes we got fruit: apples or persimmons. Pumpkins were everywhere. The costumes also varied. Ghosts, witches and cowboys were most popular, I remember. How about you? Did you go out trick or treating this year?