Friday, October 31, 2014

October 31st, Halloween

It is a sunny, chilly morning. The skies are blue. It's the last day of October. It's Halloween. Will you dress up? I will. I have to do it for the kindergarten kids in Kounosu this AM. Today is also the final day of my "dry month". As you may or may not know, I try not to drink alcohol (abstain) every other month this year. That is, Feb, April, June, Aug, Oct and Dec. I succeeded in staying completely dry in February, June and now, October. It is a good challenge and I am very proud when I succeed. But when GW drew near at the end of April I drank. And then we took our trip to the Touhoku area in August so I just had to drink during our travels up north. During my dry October I bought a new computer. It has kept me busy trying to change over from my old computer to it. When I don't drink I am as fresh as a daisy every day. So, I can do more work and play. On the other hand, I find more things to do so I am as busy as ever. I look forward to a couple of drinks from tomorrow.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bridge

Of course we went to play br

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fugu dinner

Sunday night I had a fugu dinner with some friends. Here is wikepedia info.
Fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish and the dish prepared from it, normally species of genus Takifugu, Lagocephalus, or Sphoeroides, or porcupinefish of the genus Diodon. Fugu can be lethally poisonous due to its tetrodotoxin. Therefore, it must be carefully prepared to remove toxic (poisonous) parts and to avoid contaminating the meat.
The restaurant preparation of fugu is strictly controlled by law in Japan and several other countries Only chefs who have qualified through rigorous (hard/strict) training of three years or more are allowed to deal with (cook/handle) the fish. Domestic (at home) preparation occasionally leads to accidental death.
Fugu is served as sashimi and chirinabe. Some consider the liver the tastiest part but it is also the most poisonous. Serving this organ (the liver) in restaurants was banned in Japan in 1984. Fugu has become one of the most celebrated and notorious (famous) dishes in Japanese cuisine.
It was delicious!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

HanChou Meeting

The elders
It was time once again for a neighborhood meeting. I am the HanChou (representative?) of Block 6 in our neighborhood. This is my second year of a two year volunteer service. There a variety of events that I must take part in. There are 6 general meetings a year. There is also the annual large meeting which includes the entire (all) Fujinami area. Our main event is the Autumn festival which just ended. We also have the Sports Day festival in May. I always attend that whether I am on duty or not. Then there are two clean-ups a year and help with recycling. The next main event is in December. We will have the HanChou year-end party. At the meeting last Saturday we had to decide when and where to have it. The participants are few. We had it at a nearby restaurant last year but they said "No Thank you" this time because of the low number. So, we voted and chose to hold the party at the Kominkan. We also voted to hold it on Saturday at 6PM. That is the only time I can attend. So, it means a good savings and probably Bento and sake. Yummy.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Puzzler Answers

Let's drink next week! Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

Saturday
1. Jog
2. To school for two kids lessons.
3. To Kenkatsu for 2 adult lessons.
4. Fujinami HanChou meeting.
5. Home to do more Gurunie (attic) cleaning and clothes arranging.
6. Discuss bridge strategies with M
6. TV and Sleep.

Sunday
1. Jog.
2. Violin at my school.
3. Install new software in computer.
4. Go to bridge in Takadanobaba with M.
5. Back to Okegawa then bicycle to Okegawa.
6. Train to Omiya to meet friends for delicious FUGU dinner in Omiya.
7. Home for a quick bath and sleep.
Yesterday's sunrise







Sunday, October 26, 2014

Puzzler Hints

Another bridge competition today. But it doesn't start until 1PM. I have time to practice the violin this morning. I have a lesson tomorrow. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for October: "It" with the weather.
「今日は寒いです」と言うとき、どちらが自然な英語でしょう?
A. "Today is cold." OR B. "It is cold today."
The answer is B.
Always use "It" as the subject when talking about the weather.
1. It was windy yesterday.
2. It's hot and humid in Japan in the summer.
3. It's gonna be sunny this weekend.
4. "It's raining. Get your umbrella."
Gottit? Good luck!
"Mums the word."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Puzzler

This is my final dry weekend of October. The best news is I lost two kilograms! Happy! But, I may gain it back next month. We shall see. In the meantime PUZZLER: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for October: "It" with the weather.
「今日は寒いです」と言うとき、どちらが自然な英語でしょう?
A. "Today is cold." OR B. "It is cold today."

The answer is B.
Always use "It" as the subject when talking about the weather.
1. It was windy yesterday.
2. It's hot and humid in Japan in the summer.
3. It's gonna be sunny this weekend.
4. "It's raining. Get your umbrella."
Gottit? Good luck!

Sunrise this AM

Friday, October 24, 2014

Health check-up

I live in Ageo city, Saitama prefecture, Japan. So, I am covered by the Japanese health care system. It is socialized. That means it is available to all citizens (or permanent residents) for a small fee (charge). Of course we all have to pay into the system. And the doctors and nurses and hospital staff work for average wages. It is a system that is fair, I believe. In the USA, most medical facilities are privatized. That means they are a business. So, there is a competition. So, prices go up and up. I think Mr. Obama is trying to make the system more like Japan and the rest of the countries around the world, but it looks to be difficult. Money, money. money. Anyway, I went for my annual check up at a small clinic in Ageo. They checked my weight and blood pressure and an EKG to check my heart. It was typical. The doctor is pretty cool. I enjoy joking with the clinic staff. I also had Homework. I had to get two stool samples. As of this writing I finished and returned them to the clinic yesterday. I always do my homework!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Excellent bridge

It was a sunny day. It was warm and beautiful. We drove to Shibuya for the day's bridge competition. On the way, we stopped at the local convenience store to pick up lunch. I got a Bento and M got Oinari-san. As we then started towards the highway I thought "It is a perfect day for a drive to the mountains and relaxing and enjoying nature. Maybe we should go." And then I thought "Nah. This a  a bridge day." So, we continued happily on our way. We don't discuss bridge in the car. It is dangerous. Really! It's the same as talking on the cell phone. The driver doesn't pay attention. So, we made small talk all the way. We then played from 10:30 to 1PM. There were eight teams in our group. We know almost everyone so we could laugh and kid each for the short time between changing tables. We are all basically the same level. So, we were quite pleased with the results. We were 4th (out of 8) in the AM and then 3rd overall for the day after the the PM session. I must say we did try very hard and our efforts paid off (showed good results). We may never take that drive in the mountains. CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO MAKE IT BIGGER.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pancakes

On Sunday M and I went to Shibuya for an all day bridge competition. I got up early to jog and then watch some football recordings. I got hungry. I had the time, so I decided to make pancakes. Can you make pancakes? It is not difficult. First you need the pancake batter. It is a white, flour ingredient. You can mix it with water of milk. I prefer milk. It was cloudy this day so it was enjoyable to stay in the house and "cook". I found all the utensils I needed except the measuring cup. I looked here and there. I looked inside cupboards and cabinets and drawers. I looked under things and over things. I finally gave up and asked Yumiko. It was behind the paper towels on a metal sleeve above the sink. Anyway, I made half a batch which is just enough for one person. I ate them while watching a football game. It was a mess when I finished but pretty easy to clean up. They were yummy with some Canadian maple syrup!
ANSWERS from yesterday's BLOG: learn,  quit,  oxygen,  adapt.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A thing of beauty

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" we say. Last week was Game Day at my school. Almost 30 of our students took the Eiken tests, level 5, 4, 3 and pre-2 last Saturday. So this week we relaxed by playing games in English. Last Thursday two girl students and I played Super Scrabble. As you may or may not know, I LUV Super Scrabble. RAM English Service did an all day GAME FESTIVAL last week Sunday and I got to (was able to) play SS all day.  This is a very interesting game for native speakers because we can use our vocabulary to make words. But, there are rules, restrictions and many challenges when trying to make new words. One rule is that you must use one of the letters already on the board. This is very difficult for non-native speakers. So, the two girls and I played for one hour and finished the board, which is also difficult. And some of the words are very good. This puzzle is definitely BEAUTIFUL! Can you guess the blanks.? Answers tomorrow. PLEASE CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO MAKE IT BIGGER.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Puzzle Answers

Another weekend and I started the Kenkatsu Saturday lessons. There were some new students and then the regulars. It will be enjoyable, I'm sure. Thank you all very much. Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

Saturday
1. Up early and no JOG.
2. To school. Violin practice.
3. Two kids lessons.
4. To Kenkatsu for two new adult lessons-20 lesson course.
5. Shopping at MINE Department Okegawa.
6. Relax at home.
7. Sleep.

Sunday
1. Jog.
2. Drive to Shibuya for bridge.
3. Morning bridge session.
4. Bento lunch.
5. Afternoon bridge session. RESULTS...3rd out of eight teams.
6. Home to TARO for beers (not me) and AM bridge review with M.
7. Home to meet...Rina!
8. Relax with TV.
9. Sleep.

Each blue board contains one set of cards prepared to be played.
In front is the bidding box and the bidding cards.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Puzzler Hints

Of course we play bridge today. This time in Shibuya, all day. IT will be nice weather. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for October: "It" with the weather.

「今日は寒いです」と言うとき、どちらが自然な英語でしょう?
A. "Today is cold." OR B. "It is cold today."

The answer is B.
Always use "It" as the subject when talking about the weather.

1. It was windy yesterday.
2. It's hot and humid in Japan in the summer.
3. It's gonna be sunny this weekend.
4. "It's raining. Get your umbrella."

Gottit? Good luck!

The SS players
 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Puzzler

Sorry for the inconveniences (trouble) with last week's Puzzler. I'm trying! Puzzler CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for October: "It" with the weather.
「今日は寒いです」と言うとき、どちらが自然な英語でしょう?
A. "Today is cold." OR B. "It is cold today."

The answer is B.
Always use "It" as the subject when talking about the weather.

1. It was windy yesterday.
2. It's hot and humid in Japan in the summer.
3. It's gonna be sunny this weekend.
4. "It's raining. Get your umbrella."

Gottit? Good luck!

My rice field Wednesday after the typhoon.
 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Bridge

This is the AM result
Another weekend and another bridge competition for Miwako and me. It was due to be rainy and windy last Monday and then Tuesday. There was a typhoon coming up for the south. It dumped a lot of rain on Okinawa and then was predicted to go right through Japan from bottom to top; that is from south to north. So, we were unsure as to whether or not we would be able to go to Yotsuya and participate in (take part in) the competition there. As it turns out there was no problem. We started playing at 10:30 AM (in the morning?) and finished at 4:30PM. Although it was raining and it was windy there was no typhoon. Our bridge play was the same. We played 22 boards each session; that is morning and afternoon. On average one board takes 7 minutes to play. So, 22 boards takes approximately (about) 3 hours. I bought an O-Bento lunch at the convenience store. Our play was like the weather: Uncertain. We had some good moments and some not so good moments. However I am certain (sure/positive) that we are improving. We need to play more. This time we were in the middle of the pack (group) at the end of the day. CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO MAKE IT BIGGER.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

RAM English Game Day Festival

It was cloudy last Sunday when I held my Game Day Festival. There was no bridge this day so I decided to give my students a chance (an opportunity) to play some games. You must use English to play the games. The main attraction was Super Scrabble. But I also offered Dominoes, Go fish and Chip-O. These are four of the games played at my school by my students. I LUV Super Scrabble so it was an opportunity (chance) for me to play all day. I got to the Kenkatsu Center at 8:30 AM, set up at 8:45 and then four of us played Super Scrabble until lunch time. It is a difficult game to play for foreign students. So, I did a lot of assisting. But when students were able to make their own "cool" words I could see how happy they were. After lunch five more students joined us for a total of ten on the day. One of my regular students, a boy, knows all the games, so he and his mom and two other students played those games while the rest of us ground out (worked hard at) making words for Scrabble. We finished at 4:30 and after cleaning up and locking the room we all went our separate ways. Thank you all for coming.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Timing

One month ago Miwako and I were at the school at 3PM discussing business and bridge. All of a sudden two Japanese salesmen knocked at the door. They were from CANON. They tried to sell us a copy machine but we explained that we were happy with the one we had. It is seven years old and paid for, so we don't have any monthly payments on it. He then told us about their catalog and free ordering service. I listened and found that their products were cheaper than the service we use now. We signed up (registered) for that and said goodbye. Suddenly last Thursday my copy machine went blooey! It broke! It crashed! I needed a new and quick. I talked to Miwako for 15 minutes and decided that the CANON guys were the answer. I called them and they came running the next day. We purchased a new one on a lease program. We got the cheapest one. MrUno, the young salesman who fist knocked on our door is a trainee. Everyone at his company is very happy for him. His timing was perfect and his determination (hard work) helped him to achieve success.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sports Day

 It was a holiday yesterday. It was Tai-iku no Hi here in Japan. That is Sports Day. I had one more free Saturday afternoon after my AM lessons at the school. I start the Kenkatsu courses this coming Saturday. So, with the afternoon free, I was able to go to KitaKounosu and check out (see) the Mida Kindergarten Sports Day festival at the local elementary school. I went there by bicycle, train and then taxi, returning by the same but opposite order. I arrived at 12:40 just in time for a box lunch (on the house=free) and then watched the festivities (action/show) until 2PM. I must say it was grand. First there as a music show. They had drums and pianikas and symbols and banners and batons and portable "pianos" and portable "xylophones" strapped on their little bodies. It was very well rehearsed and organized. Then a parents and kids race. There were also elementary students from first to sixth grade who were alumnus (former students) of Mida K. It was a warm, sunny day. I'm glad I went.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

Puzzler Answers

That was a good, busy, dry weekend. I'm looking forward to some good bridge playing today. Puzzle Answers: CLICK HERE.

Saturday
1. Jog
2. Work live crazy (very hard) to try to get Puzzler working.
3. Two kids lessons.
4. Train and taxi to Mida elementary school to see Mida Kindergarten Sports Day Festival (V.I.P seat as usual).
5. Back to school for 90 minutes violin practice.
6. Clean school a bit and then home to clean gurunie a bit.
7. Watch US football recording.
8. Bridge practice and blogging.
9. Sleep. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Sunday
1. Jog.
2. To Kenkatsu Center for RAM English Service Game Festival.
3. 10 friends come to enjoy Game Festival.
4. Violin practice at school.
5. Home to relax.
6. Sleep at 9PM!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Puzzler Hints

My new computer is still challenging for me. That means I have no idea what I am doing. Heavy sigh. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for October: "It" with the weather.
「今日は寒いです」と言うとき、どちらが自然な英語でしょう?
A. "Today is cold." OR B. "It is cold today."

The answer is B.
Always use "It" as the subject when talking about the weather.

1. It was windy yesterday.
2. It's hot and humid in Japan in the summer.
3. It's gonna be sunny this weekend.
4. "It's raining. Get your umbrella."

Gottit? Good luck!
A scene from yesterday's Mida K Sports Day Festival

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Puzzler

Here is the weekend and here comes another typhoon. At least I'm dry. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for October: "It" with the weather.
「今日は寒いです」と言うとき、どちらが自然な英語でしょう?
A. "Today is cold." OR B. "It is cold today."
The answer is B.
Always use "It" as the subject when talking about the weather.

1. It was windy yesrterday.
2. It's hot and humid in Japan in the summer.
3. It's gonna be sunny this weekend.
4. "It's raining. Get your umbrella."

Gottit? Good luck!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Happy Birthday, Yumiko

Last night we had a small celebration (party) at our house. It was for Yumiko's birthday. Yumiko is Miwkao's mother. She turned (became) 79 years old on October 7th and we were all able to get together last night. Miwako and she went to the doctor's yesterday for Y's check up. All is well with her health. After that they went to Sogo department store and bought a B-day present for Yumiko, I am told. It is quite gorgeous. It is a jacket. It is a dark color, maybe black and deep purple, like grapes. There is also a matching scarf. Both are very chic. About Yumiko: She was born and raised in Toyama prefecture. She is the oldest child with two younger brothers. She also has  a half-sister. Her husband, M's father passed away some 14 years ago. Yumiko has been with us ever since. We are very lucky to have her living with us. She is very understanding and wise. She also cleans and cooks and does the gardening. I hope we can all grow old together. Happy Birthday, Yumiko.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Lunar eclipse

Last night from about 7 to 8pm there was a lunar eclipse. Did you see it? From wikipedia:
1. A lunar eclipse occurs (happens) when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow). This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly with the Earth in the middle.
2. A lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a full moon.
3. A lunar eclipse may be viewed from anywhere on the night side of the Earth.
4. A lunar eclipse lasts for a few hours.
5. Lunar eclipses are safe to view without any eye protection or special precautions, as they are dimmer than the full moon.

There are also solar (sun) eclipses. That occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth and directly blocks the light of the sun. Does anyone know when the next solar eclipse that can be seen from Japan is? Please tell us.




 
 
 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Bertold Bayer

Ten years ago I met a man from Germany. His name is Bertold Bayer. His wife is Keiko. The have one child, a daughter named, Rina. He used to be in the Berlin philharmonic symphony. He played clarinet. Keiko is a piano teacher and player in Germany. One day they had a concert at the Kenkatsu center. I happened to be teaching that day. It must have been a Saturday. Their concert finished at the same time that my lesson finished. We happened to meet in the lobby. We said Hello and then had tea together. We became friends from then on. One day he and I went to Owada pool. Some Japanese girls asked me to take their picture with him. They didn't want to take a picture with me! Shock! He also climbed Mt Fuji at that time in one day up and down. That gave me the inspiration to do the same three years ago. They were in Japan last week. We planned to meet last Sunday at Kenkatsu but they both came down with very bad colds. We talked on the phone but couldn't meet. They are really nice people. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fujinami Aki Matsuri

As I am the Fujinami Danchi 6 HanChou, I am obliged (required/responsible to) attend bi-monthly meetings and special events. Events include Kominkan cleaning, Sports Day set-up, recycle sorting, neighborhood clean ups and the main event, Aki Matsuri. This is my second year as HnaChou. This past weekend was the Aki Matsuri. So on Saturday night I went to the festival at 6PM. It wasn't raining so the festivities were held outside. There was also a lot of gentlemen inside partying: that is they were eating and drinking-mostly drinking. I helped out by announcing the six dance numbers over the PA system. We did that twice. The first was at 6:30pm and the second was at 8pm. Between the dancing was the famous OMochi-tsuki event. I had never seen that before. It was quite unique. Six guys danced around the wooden keg which holds the rice paste and pound it in rotation. I could tell that they practiced hard. They performed very well. Everyone enjoyed their performance.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Puzzler Answers

A dry weekend. So, fresh! I'm ready for action! Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

Saturday
1. Jog
2. Violin practice at school.
3. Teach two kids lessons.
4. Go shopping by bicycle to ViVa Home and Himalaya at PAPA.
5. Work on setting up computer.
6. Attend  Aki Matsuri from 6PM to 10PM. I work as announcer for festival dances.
7. Home to relax sans (without) drinking.
8. Sleep like a baby.

Sunday
1. Up fresh.
2. It's raining so no jogging.
3. Slice cucumbers for Fujnami Aki Matsuri 9AM to 11AM.
4. Bridge practice with M at Kenkatsu.5
5. Go to Seigetsu for dinner and bridge discussion.
6. Bridge review at home.
7. Sleep at 9PM.
Me and these beauties prepared the food for the festival

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Puzzler Hints

It's raining this AM but I am attending the Fujinami AKI MATSURI. It should be fun. Are you coming? Puzzler HInts: CLICK HERE.
HOME PROJECT for October: "It" with the weather.
「今日は寒いです」と言うとき、どちらが自然な英語でしょう?
A. "Today is cold." OR B. "It is cold today."
The answer is B.
Always use "It" as the subject when talking about the weather.

1. It was windy yesrterday.
2. It's hot and humid in Japan in the summer.
3. It's gonna be sunny this weekend.
4. "It's raining. Get your umbrella."

Gottit? Good luck!
The Special O-mochiTsuki event at Fujinami AkiMatsuri last night



 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Puzzler

Is it October already? Only three months left this year.Let's enjoy them! Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for October: "It" with the weather.

「今日は寒いです。」と言うよき、どちらが自然な英語でしょう?

A. "Today is cold."
B. "It is cold today."

Of course, B is correct! Always use "It" as the subject when talking about the weather.

1. It was windy yesterday.
2. It's hot and humid in Japan in the summer.
3. It's gonna be sunny this weekend.
4. "It's raining. Get your umbrella."

Gottit? Good luck!

 


 
 

 

 

Friday, October 3, 2014

My three computers

I now have three computers at my school. The one on the left is for my LED sign only. It has a wireless connection. It goes directly to the LED sign outside my school. It is like a toy. It is not on-line; that is, it is not connected to the Internet. The one in the middle is my old computer. It is five years old. Its OS (Operating System) is Vista. It has been a good companion (friend/co-worker) for five years. However it was time to get (buy) a new one. I also use the computer at my house. It is new, fast and cool. That prompted (encouraged) me to go to K's Denki two weeks ago. So, the computer on the right is a Gateway model. Its OS is Windows 8.1. It was only 57,000en and contains the minimum software. I also signed up for the high-speed Internet connection FLETS. They came yesterday and installed it. It took almost two hours. The Internet speed has increased but there are several challenges left (remaining) for me with my new computer. I hope I will be able to use it smoothly by November 1.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

More house cleaning

My rice field.........The End
I am not quite sure when my campaign to clean my school and house began. "Clean" means to get rid of any things we will never use again. I was born and raised in the USA. Back home the average house is bigger than the average house over here in Japan. I am not complaining. Japan is a smaller country (about 1/20th the size of America) and has lots of mountains, so the available living space is very, very limited. I believe this makes the Japanese more sensible, and perhaps, wise people. Also, in my opinion, the food is much better here. Anyway, I see many ways to make our living space bigger. For most people it is difficult to throw things away. "We may use it some day." Or "It's a waste to throw it away." are two reasons. At my age, 62, I am gambling that I will die before I ever use those things again. And if I do need something I will find a way to get it that is not too expensive or painful. I hope that by 2015 my cleaning campaign will be complete.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sunday's Bridge results

M and I went to Takadanobaba for an under 50 competition. last Sunday. M and I are both under 10, but it is the only game in town for us. There are also Under 10 and Under 20 competitions, but they do not fit our schedule. We know most of the people now in this group so it is more fun. And this time there were only four teams! That is only eight people. I do believe that is the minimum that can participate in (take part in) a competition. So, we played our usual style and had some good bids and some good play. Unfortunately the results were not good. We were last of the four teams. The top two teams were four ladies and the third place team was two gentlemen. We now two for the ladies (first place) and they do play well. The other two ladies are new to us and I had one play were I duped (tricked/fooled) them. That as a small victory for me. All I can say is that we have to study more. Next competition is October 13th. Wish us luck!