Thursday, December 31, 2015

December 31st

This is the final day of 2015. How was your year? We all stayed healthy here until the end of the year. I got a bad cold around the 20th of this month and I still have it. I had a fever or about a week and it finally went down today. I went to the my favorite doctor, Ishibashi, in Ageo, and got a check up and some medicine. So, the fever is gone but I still have sore throat and a slightly runny nose. But, the rest of the year was good. I got two new jobs at kindergartens and Kids Day Care Centers. My younger daughter got a job after graduating university. I practice the violin a lot but it is still difficult. Bridge was a big success. We started with 11 MPs and finished with over 43MPs so that was something to smile about. I got my kids homework program together and we got the new chairs and curtains for the school. Perhaps the most satisfying thing is the empty lot next door. It sure is clean.I enjoy looking at it every day.How was your year?
Beautiful!
 

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Yoshino Christmas Party

My newest job is at a Hoikuen in Kawagoe. The owner is a friend form the RINRI HouJinKai. She asked us to teach English at her Kids Day Care Cent4er (Houikuen) three years ago. I have sent two teachers since then. Just recently, the second teacher resigned the post (He quit). I decided to take the position myself. They have a Christmas Party very year. The kids are up on stage and sing and dance and pay musical instruments . They also have four English performances. I and the homeroom teacher practice with the kids. I always go to the parties. But, this year I was on stage working with the kids. We practirced for 8 weeks and he party was December 22nd. It is always the day before the Emperor's Birthday. We did a lot of practice an the results were excellent. The 2 year -lds said English words. The 3 year-olds make animal noises as we sang "Old MacDonald". The 4-5 year-olds did a skit from a book. And, the 5-6 year-olds did a conversation practice on stage. All went well and I enjoyed my time on stage.
As usual, I took a pic of the audience
 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

So cool!

Last Friday I had the final adults lesson at my school for 2015. Five adult students came. I also invited one high school girl from the Tuesday night listening class to come. We all talked a bit and then played Super Scrabble. For half of them it was the first time. So, I assisted (helped) them when they had trouble making words. This game is not easy. You need a lot of vocabulary. You also need a sense of English words. But we made some good words together. I remember "ICICLE" and "BROWSED". "BROWSED" was cool because it completed a full square block. The "B" was from one word and the "D" was from another word. That is very rare in this game. The lesson lasted 15 minutes longer than usual. That was OK. At the end I was talking to one student when I suddenly realized that the other students had been putting the game away! They destroyed it! I waned to take a photo, but, too late! Heavy Sigh! Or as Charlie Brown would say "Good grief". Happy Holidays everybody!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Violinists

My wife's sister and her two sons are staying with us for the holidays. I am sure I told you that last week. But, I didn't tell you that they both practice the violin. They brought their violins with them on the airplane. They finally gave us a performance last Thursday night, Christmas eve. The little guy is just a beginner but he seemed very relaxed with the instrument. He kept saying "I'm good, don't you think?". They played one song together and then the older boy played several songs. One was the French National Anthem. He was very good. I understand that they practice a lot. I liked the way the older boy moved his body while playing. You could see that he was in a good rhythm. His bowing was nice, too. He didn't make many mistake on the notes, either. He was very good. I hope to play for them before they leave our house. Maybe today.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Special Lesson

A business friend called me from the Urawa Community Center in June. He was the director there. He asked RAM to set up (arrange) a short course lesson for kids in December. I asked one of our regular Japanese kids teachers to take the assignment. She agreed and I thought all was set. HOWEVER, there has been miscommunication since then. I thought the location was near Urawa station where the teacher lives. But, the director had been transferred to MinamiUrawa. Then the pay was very low. The teacher agreed to it, but later complained that it was too little for the Christmas season. We changed the lesson from four one-hour lessons to three 80-minute lessons for the same pay. That helped and I also agreed to do one of the lessons. It was last Thursday (after Charlie's lunch party). I went by train and then on foot to the Center. There were 11 kids. We all enjoyed playing Chutes and Ladders. I finally got home at 6PM to relax and take care of my cold. All's well, that finally ends.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Lunch with Charlie

Charlie is one of our teachers at RAM English Service. I met him about 15 years ago in KitaAgeo. Actually, one of our other teachers introduced him to us. She taught for us for 10 years and she was returning to the states. (Ohio, to be exact) Charlie took her place and eventually taught a lot of lessons for us. Most of his lessons are adults, but on occasion (sometimes) he does kids. He also sings and plays guitar very well. I wanted to show my appreciation to him for all his excellent teaching for us at RAM English. I invited him to lunch. I remembered that some of my students know Charlie. I invited 5 of them to join us. They all agreed. Everything was set; Thursday noon, at Futaba in Okegawa. I sent an e-mail to Charlie Thursday morning to remind him, and then went to my lesson. I tried to call him but my cell phone needed charging. I couldn't contact him. At the restaurant, Charlie was a no-show! He didn't come. One student went to search for him and finally found him on the wrong side of the station. When he finally came we all had a delicious lunch and some fun conversation,. All's well, that ends well.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Party

My sister-in-law lives in France. Her husband is Japanese and they have two sons, aged 5 and 8. They are now in Japan visiting for the first time in 4 years. Three of them (not the husband) stayed at another sister's house in Tokyo for four days. Then they stayed at our house for four days. They left to stay with the husband's family yesterday. Two of my family members and the three of them visited DORAIMON Land in Tokyo on Tuesday. Then the family visited one uncle's place and stayed one night in Kamakura. We had the Christmas Party at our house Monday night. One of my daughters set up a "Christmas gift exchange box". We all wrote down what we wanted as a gift and put the wish into the box. Then everyone drew one wish and bought that gift for the "wisher". The gifts were put under the Christmas tree one at a time until all were there. Then we had a party. There was sushi and KFC. Yummy! Dean Martin was singing Christmas songs and we all drank champagne, ate dinner, talked and then exchanged gifts. It finished after midnight. It was some fun. Merry Christmas everybody!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Viento

There is a Cafe/Club in Ina Town called Viento. The owner is Hiroshi. He used to be one of my students. He is a great guy. He teaches at a university 3 times a week and runs the cafe. He also studies the bass guitar and bass fiddle. He has a band called Et Marie. There are five members. The singer is Miyuki. She used to be my student. The pianist is Mari. She is my student. I forgot the saxophone player's name. Sorry! And the drummer is Nu-chan. He is a very animated, funny guy. These five musicians performed last Sunday afternoon. My wife and I attended. There were two other performances that we saw. A pianist and a jazz singer were there. They performed with Hiroshi. Then two ladies played the piano together. They played a medley of Disney songs. That was pretty cool. Finally we heard Et Marie perform. They played four songs and then one more after we all cried for an encore. I have tried to play my violin here a couple of times. I decided this time to relax and enjoy the music. So, I drank wine and took pictures. Maybe I will play next time if they let me.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Emperor's Birthday

It is a holiday here in Japan today.
The Emperor's Birthday is a national holiday in the Japanese calendar celebrated on 23 December of each year. The date is determined by the reigning Emperor's birthdate. Emperor Akihito was born on 23 December, 1933.
During the reign of Hirohito (Shōwa period, 1926–1989), the Emperor's birthday was observed on 29 April. That date remained a public holiday, posthumously renamed Greenery Day in 1989 and Shōwa Day in 2007.
On 23 December, a public ceremony takes place at the Imperial Palace, where 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 (however brief), the crowd starts waving the flags again and the Imperial Family wave back. 
I might  go.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Suntory Hall

The final Kenkatsu lesson this year ended at 4:45 last Saturday. As soon as it did (ended), I took the shuttle bus to Uchijuku station and rode the New Shuttle to Omiya and then JR Takasaki line to Ueno and then the Ginza subway line to Tameike Sanno station. One student told me to take the Ginza line for Shibuya. That helped a lot. And another student said to look for Ana at Tameike Sanno (06) when I finally get off. That also helped a lot, as I was looking for Suntory Hall. At Suntory Hall my wife and daughter were waiting for me. My daughter got three complimentary tickets for a concert there from the company where she works. The Kiev Symphony orchestra first played Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. All are familiar with this music. It was very enjoyable. The main attraction though was Otani Yasuko. She is a great violinist and she performed using a Stradivarius violin. She was fantastic. The orchestra played one more number afterwards. The music was wonderful and as an added bonus Empress Michiko attended. She waved to everyone. It was a very memorable night for all.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Puzzler Answers

And finally, the last Puzzler Answers for 2015. Did you enjoy them? Your comments are welcome, as always. Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

Here's a Super Scrabble game board for your perusal. Cool Words:

YIELD    DEBUT      PROXY    BLAND    SUAVE    TORRID    MISTY
 
And now can you guess the BLANKS? The answers are way down below.




 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
QUITE/RAT               SLAY/EXTRA                  HAPPY/LUMP   

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Puzzler Hints

I have some free time this week. I am really looking forward to it. Will I spend it wisely? Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for December 2015 :   “... of us”

 人数を表す時(自分を含む場合)
 
I belong to a volleyball team.  私はバレーボールチームに所属しています。
Six of us went to Disneyland yesterday. (そのうちの)6人で昨日ディズニーランドに行きました。
Each of us has her own favorite attraction. 私たちにはそれぞれお気に入りのアトラクションがあります。
None of us like the roller coaster. 私たちの中にジェットコースターを好きな人はいません。
Of course, all of us enjoyed the trip. もちろん、私たちみんなその旅行を楽しみました。

バレーボールチームの人数が、もともと6人しかいない場合、”the six of us” と “the” をつけます。

This is Santa's view
 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Puzzler

This is the final Puzzler for the year. I hope you enjoy it. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for December 2015 :   “... of us”

 人数を表す時(自分を含む場合)
 
I belong to a volleyball team.  私はバレーボールチームに所属しています。
Six of us went to Disneyland yesterday. (そのうちの)6人で昨日ディズニーランドに行きました。
Each of us has her own favorite attraction. 私たちにはそれぞれお気に入りのアトラクションがあります。
None of us like the roller coaster. 私たちの中にジェットコースターを好きな人はいません。
Of course, all of us enjoyed the trip. もちろん、私たちみんなその旅行を楽しみました。

バレーボールチームの人数が、もともと6人しかいない場合、”the six of us” と “the” をつけます。

Santa "Rick" Claus on stage
 

Friday, December 18, 2015

The final bridge

We went to Yotsuya to compete in an Under 300 competition last Sunday. Some players of the players were out of this world. They were too high level for us. But, we got to (were able to) meet two people we haven't met in a long time. One is a guy. He and his partner finished in first place in the AM and in the PM. He said he plays four or five times a week. He is retired and he has nothing else to do. The other player is a young lady. She is pretty cool and she makes funny faces when she is thinking hard. Actually everyone makes interesting faces when they are thinking seriously. (I wonder if I do that. I will have to ask my partner.) I guess we didn't think enough though. We were 9 of 9 in the AM but rebounded to 3 of 9 in the PM session. Overall we were a poor 7 of 9. We had one more competition next Wednesday. It is in Yokohama. On the way home, we decided not to go for three reasons. 1. It is rather far. 2. We are very busy now. 3. We never do well there. So our bridge playing is over (finished) for 2015. We did rather well and I look forward to getting our results next week.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Santa Claus

I have different roles to play at my different lessons. At Higashi Kindergarten I make a speech at the Graduation ceremony. At Mida Kindergarten I dress up in a Halloween costume and pass out treats. At the Yoshino Kids Day Care I will be on stage doing English performances with the kids at their Christmas Recital next week. And my latest (newest) role is Santa Claus. I may have done a Santa performance way back when (long, long ago) but I can't remember. So, I will say this was my first time. The Kitamoto East Kindergarten/Day Care Center has an annual Christmas celebration. I started teaching there in April. All is going well. Two weeks ago they informed (told) me that I was to be Santa Claus. I was happy to say "Yes, of course." They have a Santa costume. It fit well, but the beard was a problem. It was so itchy! Luckily, one teacher gave me a white mask and taped the beard to it. That was perfect. So, I "Ho Ho Ho"ed for the kids and gave them all Christmas presents. There were also several interviews. Did you know Santa comes from Finland? I thought it was the North Pole. Anyway, everyone seemed happy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

UESS Winter Party

UESS stands for the "Urawa English Speaking Society". This is an organization of Japanese people who are very interested in learning English. They teach themselves English. They use NHK texts and have Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced classes. They meet Saturday nights in Urawa. Their goal is to speak English. Of course, they need to learn the basics of English but they want to use English. One way that they do that is to hold two Parties a year, summer and winter. Japanese people are welcome to come. They have to pay a fee. Foreigners are invited to come. They do not have to pay. So, the Japanese guests have a chance to mingle with and speak English to the foreign guests. I think it is a very nice arrangement. I went to the party last Saturday night. I met a lot of people. Many of them are Japanese who attend regularly. Some of them are the foreigners who always come. A handful (5 or 6) were strangers to me. Six of them are my students and three of them are RAM English teachers. I think all of us had a good time.
 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Special Lesson

Every now and again (sometimes, but not often) I get a request to do an English lesson. I have my regular schedule and these requests are not related. For example, The UESS group has asked me to lecture at their spring and Autumn camps. I get request from community Centers. I will do a lesson for kids next week Thursday in Urawa. This time one of my students asked me to teach (entertain?) her group. She teaches at a Community Center in Hasuda. This was my second time there. She had a good plan. The lesson was 90 minutes. First, it was conversation. They prepared questions for me. During that session I answered their questions as best I could, and explained some English grammar points and related (told) some of my experiences here in Japan. Then we did a prnouncitation practice. For this lesson I use a CD and text. It is from my kids program at my school. Then finally we practiced the numbers and then used a set of cards to practice. Again, this is one of the popular lessons I use at my school with kids. I enjoyed this lesson. And, I was impressed that most of the students spoke very good English. Thank you, Junko, and Good Job!
 
 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Puzzler Answers

We had a bridge tourney in Yotsuya yesterday. It was an Under 300 event! I wonder how we did. You can see the results alter in the week.In the meantime, Puzzle Answers: CLICK HERE.

And now. here is a Super Scrabble puzzle for your scrutiny. Cool Words:

FANCY    COZY    BOSSY     PLAGUE    PRICK    DUE    TENURE    ELATED
 
 
So now, can you figure out the BLANKS? The answers are way down below. 



ZOO         OIL/PLAID       CAT/REN         CAD/REND           SWORD/JOG

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Puzler Hints

This coming week I will be Santa Claus and get my monthoy massage. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for December 2015 :   “... of us”

 人数を表す時(自分を含む場合)
 
I belong to a volleyball team.  私はバレーボールチームに所属しています。
Six of us went to Disneyland yesterday. (そのうちの)6人で昨日ディズニーランドに行きました。
Each of us has her own favorite attraction. 私たちにはそれぞれお気に入りのアトラクションがあります。
None of us like the roller coaster. 私たちの中にジェットコースターを好きな人はいません。
Of course, all of us enjoyed the trip. もちろん、私たちみんなその旅行を楽しみました。

バレーボールチームの人数が、もともと6人しかいない場合、”the six of us” と “the” をつけます。


Also Thrusday AM

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Puzzler

That was a good week. I had no Monday AM kids, a special adult lesson in Hasuda on Thursday, and did some good work on my Kids HW project. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for December 2015 :   “... of us”

 人数を表す時(自分を含む場合)
 
I belong to a volleyball team.  私はバレーボールチームに所属しています。
Six of us went to Disneyland yesterday. (そのうちの)6人で昨日ディズニーランドに行きました。
Each of us has her own favorite attraction. 私たちにはそれぞれお気に入りのアトラクションがあります。
None of us like the roller coaster. 私たちの中にジェットコースターを好きな人はいません。
Of course, all of us enjoyed the trip. もちろん、私たちみんなその旅行を楽しみました。

バレーボールチームの人数が、もともと6人しかいない場合、”the six of us” と “the” をつけます。

Thursday's sunrise
 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Tuesday's Lesson

I want to tell you about this lesson. It was Tuesday, December 8th. I just finished an Adults Conversation class at my Okegawa school. I then changed clothes, fired off (sent) my regular Tuesday e-mails and looked at the football results on the net. The whiteboard was still filled with the lesson. It has some good info so I decided to tell you about it. Four students came to the lesson: three lovely ladies and one gentleman. They told us all their news and I made comments, and explained certain points about English, as always. Look at the picture. Do you understand all that? Let me ask you: Can you find any more "Go            ing" phrases? Here is our list:
jogging, driving, snorkeling, fishing, carolling, sleighing, riding, sailing, cruising, camping, diving, climbing, birding, sledding, skiing, skating, walking, swimming, shopping, running, traveling, drinking.
COOL SENTENCES: 1. It looks to me like he is crazy about S.W. (Star Wars) 2. Every year I make 5 place mats. I give my one friend 4 of them. I keep the other one. 3. Recently I             ed.  vs. These days I am           ing. NICE VOCABULARY: solstice, equinox, venue, drought, aware of.
 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Sunrise

I love this time of the year. Of course, it is cold. On the other hand, it is not hot. At night I really enjoy sleeping in warm blankets. It is also darker longer. Sunrises and sunsets are very beautiful this time of the year. I cannot see sunsets regularly. I am teaching at that time. There is no clear horizon for me to enjoy. I sometimes see the sky in the west. The colors are there; orange, yellow, blue and sometimes red. But many houses and buildings block my view. So, my favorite is sunrise. From our house we can see the east. The sun now is moving south. It will reach it's final destination on December 23rd. Then it will return to the north. We have a perfect view to see sunrises. There is one gap (open space) facing the east. I check this view almost every morning. There are very splendid sunrises on occasion. But, sometimes it is cloudy. When there are absolutely (completely/100%) no clouds the sun appears bright and yellow. But, if there are a few clouds, the sun paints colors on them. Again, orange, yellow, blue and sometimes red. I love this time of the year.
 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Bridge

I couldn't wait to tell you about our latest bridge results. They were not so good. We went to Yotsuya to play. Of course we drove there. When we arrived we saw a lot of regular players and a couple of new ones. But, this was our first time to compete in an Under 150 competition. We played 24 games in the morning and then 21 games in he afternoon. Out of those 45 games we had maybe 10 good ones. The card distribution (layout or composition) was very unusual and very difficult. Of course, everybody has he same problem. But many of them are used to such difficult hands. We are not. So, we had only a 42% success rate in the AM. We did however improve to 50% in the afternoon. That was OK. We discussed the AM session at lunch time and decided to try to be more calm and sensible about our bidding. Of course we made more mistakes but not so many. I now understand (realise/know that I must practice counting cards. That means to remember which cards were played and which are remaining and which payer has those cards. It will be very difficult but it is the next step in my bridge career.
 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Pearl Harbor Day

National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, which is annually on December 7, commemorates the attack on Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii, during World War II. Many American service men and women lost their lives or were injured on December 7, 1941. National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day is also referred to as Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or Pearl Harbor Day.
  1. On Sunday morning, December 7, 1941, the American Army and Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy. The attack came as a surprise to the American Army and Navy and lead to great losses of life and equipment. More than 2000 American citizens were killed and more than 1000 were injured. The Americans also lost a large proportion of their battle ships and nearly 200 aircraft that were stationed in the Pacific region. More than 60 Japanese servicemen were killed, injured or captured. The Japanese Navy also lost five midget submarines and 29 aircraft.
  2. The Japanese military had hoped that the attack on Pearl Harbor would prevent the United States of America from increasing her influence in the Pacific. However, the events in Pearl Harbor actually led to the escalation of World War II. The day after the attack, the United States declared war on Japan and so entered World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt in a speech to Congress stated that the bombing of Pearl Harbor was “a date which will live in infamy”. Shortly afterwards, Germany also declared war on the United States. In the months that followed the attack, the slogan “Remember Pearl Harbor” swept the United States and radio stations repeatedly played a song of the same name.
 

 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Puzzler Answers

I think December is going to be a good month. What do you think? Puzzle Answers CLICK HERE

Here is a Super Scrabble Puzzle for your perusal. COOL WORDS:

RAGE      EXUDE      TACKY      ANGER      WITCH      GENTLE       REJOICE       YOUTH

Now, canyou figure out the BLANKS? The answers are way down below!


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
WORTHY         PRIZE/AMAZE       DUMBER       DEVICE

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Puzzler Hints

I feel fresh and ready to Go Go Go! Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for December 2015 :   “... of us”

 人数を表す時(自分を含む場合)
 
I belong to a volleyball team.  私はバレーボールチームに所属しています。
Six of us went to Disneyland yesterday. (そのうちの)6人で昨日ディズニーランドに行きました。
Each of us has her own favorite attraction. 私たちにはそれぞれお気に入りのアトラクションがあります。
None of us like the roller coaster. 私たちの中にジェットコースターを好きな人はいません。
Of course, all of us enjoyed the trip. もちろん、私たちみんなその旅行を楽しみました。

バレーボールチームの人数が、もともと6人しかいない場合、”the six of us” と “the” をつけます。


All of them are trying their best
 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Puzzler

Finally, the weekend. Actually, it's one of the last of the year. Enjoy it! Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for December 2015 :   “... of us”

 人数を表す時(自分を含む場合)
 
I belong to a volleyball team.  私はバレーボールチームに所属しています。
Six of us went to Disneyland yesterday. (そのうちの)6人で昨日ディズニーランドに行きました。
Each of us has her own favorite attraction. 私たちにはそれぞれお気に入りのアトラクションがあります。
None of us like the roller coaster. 私たちの中にジェットコースターを好きな人はいません。
Of course, all of us enjoyed the trip. もちろん、私たちみんなその旅行を楽しみました。

バレーボールチームの人数が、もともと6人しかいない場合、”the six of us” と “the” をつけます。


On my way home from the Kitamoto lesson last Monday I happened to catch the Okegawa Elementary marathon. GO!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Bridge

I really love playing bridge. We got better about June last year. We have been improving little by little. Recently we were so successful that I started taking the play for granted. That means I thought we would automatically win. That is, we didn't have to try hard. So, I didn't prepare well. Of course, I practiced on the computer with BB24. That is a software game to practice bridge. But, I also drank too much on Saturday night. That is the day before the competition. But sometimes we won anyway! Now, when we play I cherish each game. We generally play 44 to 48 games in a tournament. Each game is important. Every hand is important. Every bid is important. And every card is important. The high level players understand this. We were in Takadanobaba for our final competition in November. I wasn't at my best as I was tired. I then realized (knew) that I must make a stronger commitment to the game and my partner. We must both be at our best in order to succeed. Of course, playing is half the fun. BUT, winning is the other half. I am looking forward to this Sunday's play!
Second place intheUnder 50 group.
 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

My 2015 Part 2

Violin
It is an excellent experience. I am very glad that I started. Of course, it is difficult. Three and a half years have passed since I started and I have improved. But, I am a very poor player. My goal is to continue practicing. Right now and next year, I will practice hard at straight bowing, hitting the proper notes and timing. I will not play on stage, except at the Kindergarten Party and RAM English Spectacular in July.
Bridge
We have improved a lot both as a team and as players. My main problem is twofold: 1. I drink too much sometimes the night before a tournament. And 2. I don't count cards. I will resolve these problems from now on.
Business
RAM English business has its ups and downs, its challenges and its joys. I have created texts and CDS. I have made a variety of teaching materials. Some have worked (succeeded) and some have failed. I made Homework for our students two years ago and they have fit in very well with my teaching. I now hope to market (sell) them.
Family
I have cool family thanks to all the members. I am always learning from them. They are the best. I am very fortunate (lucky) this way.
 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

My 2015 Part 1

Health Issues
1. I had stomach pains at the end of last year. I got an endoscopy in January and kept a light diet for a while. Everything was better by May.
2. I had a sharp pain in my right shoulder from April. It only hurt when I raised my arm. I went for my monthly massage in October. I lied face down on the massage table. Suddenly he pulled my right arm straight over my head. I heard some strange noise come from the shoulder. Now my arm is fine. It was a miracle!
3. At last year's annual physical the doc said I have to drink more H2O because my kidneys were weak. I now drink 3 glasses of water every morning. My kidneys got an "A" at the last health check up. 
Business
1. Bad news: I lost 18 students at my school. They became high school and/or Junior HS students.
2. I got two new jobs. One started in April. Out of the blue a Kindergarten owner called me. He saw my HP. He needed an English teacher. We talked and I started in April.
3. One teacher quit a Houikuen lesson which we manage. It is in Kawagoe. The owner (my friend) said that she wanted me to teach there. But, I had no free AMs. I made a hard decision. I closed the Adult class at my school to go to teach in Kawagoe. (It is a 15 minute ride by car from our house. In order to appease (keep my adult students happy) I told all of them that they can come to the school 8 times a month (Tuesdays and Fridays) for the regular monthly lesson fee. All are happy....I think
The kids get ready for a number card game
 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

2015 Resolutions

I made six resolutions for 2015. Resolution: a firm (solid/strong) decision to do something.
1. Do not drink at home unless there is a party. I really need to drink less. I don't drink too often but sometimes too much. FAILURE.
2. Study bridge more and get over 20MPs. Currently (Right now) we have 40MPs. SUCCESS
3. Print better on the whiteboard. I use the white board regularly when I teach. My writing was very sloppy (not neat). It has improved a lot. SUCCESS
4. Reduce Game Day. In the kids Program at my school, the final (4th) lesson is a GAME DAY. The games include Chutes and ladders, Chip-O and Scrabble (three board games) Go Fish (cards), Hang Man and BINGO. The kids have come to expect it even as they get older. I quit one game called DOMINOES. It was very popular but we only used numbers in English. I have done some more listening practice with the kids. It also popular. FAILURE/SUCCESS.
5. Quit jogging. I had some health issues so I decided to stop jogging. I tried again in October. I quit again. SUCCESS.
6. Gardening at home. Miwako's mom does all the gardening in our little garden. It keeps her busy and outdoors on warm days. I thought I should help her. Instead I cleaned vacant lot next door. SUCCESS.
 
No new weeds since the farmer sprayed the weed killer.
 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Puzzler Answers

The final month of the year starts tomorrow. How was your 2015? I will tell you about mine tomorrow. Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

In the meantime, here is a Super Scrabble Puzzle for your perusal. Cool Words:

 
CURB     CREST     BRAIN     WAGE      EDGE      NAMED      UNNAMED      LAIR     JEER
 
1. There is a mistake. It s IROAMED. Of course the 'I' is NG. Can you move the "I" to another place to make a word? There are several. The answers are way down below.
2. Can you guess the BLANKS? The answers are way down below.
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
New "I" words;   IT    IS   IN   JIF.
 
OVEN/BRAIN        NOSING/GROSS     ROUT/QUIET     STREAMS


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Puzzler Hints

We are back at he bridge table today in TakadaNoBaba. I feel we will be successful. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.
 
HOME PROJECT for December 2015 :   “... of us”

 人数を表す時(自分を含む場合)
 
I belong to a volleyball team.  私はバレーボールチームに所属しています。
Six of us went to Disneyland yesterday. (そのうちの)6人で昨日ディズニーランドに行きました。
Each of us has her own favorite attraction. 私たちにはそれぞれお気に入りのアトラクションがあります。
None of us like the roller coaster. 私たちの中にジェットコースターを好きな人はいません。
Of course, all of us enjoyed the trip. もちろん、私たちみんなその旅行を楽しみました。

バレーボールチームの人数が、もともと6人しかいない場合、”the six of us” と “the” をつけます。

I took a walk in Yamashita Park Monday, 7AM

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Puzzler

As Monday was a holiday, this week was one day shorter than usual. Yeah! Puzzler: CLICK HERE.
 
HOME PROJECT for December 2015 :   “... of us”

 人数を表す時(自分を含む場合)
 
I belong to a volleyball team.  私はバレーボールチームに所属しています。
Six of us went to Disneyland yesterday. (そのうちの)6人で昨日ディズニーランドに行きました。
Each of us has her own favorite attraction. 私たちにはそれぞれお気に入りのアトラクションがあります。
None of us like the roller coaster. 私たちの中にジェットコースターを好きな人はいません。
Of course, all of us enjoyed the trip. もちろん、私たちみんなその旅行を楽しみました。

バレーボールチームの人数が、もともと6人しかいない場合、”the six of us” と “the” をつけます。

As promised here are the bad results. Oh, well.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Bridge

Have you ever read the book "A Tale of Two Cities" by Charles Dickens? It tells a story about the turmoil and rebellion and chaos in Paris as compared to the quiet life in England in the mid-1800s. My bridge story is similar. We played two days. The first was in Yotsuya. It was an Under150/Under50 competition. We were so smooth in the AM. We finished very far ahead of all the other players in both groups. However, we lost our momentum in the afternoon. We played a little carelessly. We did manage to get 2/14 and 1/6 at the end of the day. We were happy with these results. Then we drove to Yokohama to spend one night and go to the Bridge Center the next day. Of course we celebrated our victory. WELL! We were terrible the next day! I made a big blunder (mistake) the very first hand. It was all down hill from there. We talked at lunchtime and decided to enjoy the PM session. We did have a couple of good games then. I was quite pleased with the very last game. The opponents were some regular players we are friendly with but I consider rivals. I made a difficult choice to "double" them. That is a strong/rare challenge. And we were successful. As Shakespeare said, "All's well that ends well".
These are the excellent results Sunday. You can see the terrible results tomorrow.
 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving, USA

Thanksgiving Day is a national Holiday in America. It is always the fourth Thursday in November. The next day, Friday is also a day off. That makes a four-day weekend. People travel around the country, mostly by car, to meet with family and friends. This is very similar to the Japanese O-Bon holiday. Back in Michigan when I was young we would celebrate. This holiday is not religious so we don't go to church. My mother was the first one to get up. She would start cooking. There was always a turkey. It would bake for 4 or 5 hours in our kitchen oven. She would also make an apple pie and a pumpkin pie. (I preferred apple. My brother chose pumpkin.) She also made a salad, mashed potatoes and gravy form the turkey juices. When we got older it was the same meal but my brother and sister were married so when we all gathered my mom cooked with the other ladies and the guys would watch football on TV. After the big meal we would have ice cream. (I chose vanilla. My brother preferred chocolate.) Then 6 or 7 or 8 of us would sit around the kitchen table and play cards. We didn't play bridge, but it was a lot of fun.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Crow: by Misao

Everybody, what image of a crow do you have? Is he spiteful, foolish, scatterbrain or clever? Let me tell you my two stories about the crow.
    First. One fine day my two grandsons and I were playing with toy blocks in a room. A crow began crying slowly outside. I heard: Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah. My elder grandson heard: Ka-Ka-Ka-Ka. My younger grandson heard: Ha-Ha-Ha-Ha. I found that interesting. What do you hear when the crow cries?
I have heard that crows are ominous birds because of  their color and cry. However as I listened to the crow, I felt a peaceful atmosphere rather than an ominous mood. Suddenly the alarm of the railroad crossing began to ring: Kan-Kan-Kan-Kan. To my surprise, two crows also began to cry: Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah. Also, it was exactly in the same beat of 4/4:Kan-Kan-Kan-Kan-Ah-Ah-Ah-Ah. They also cried at 2/4 time: Kan-Kan-Kan-Kan-Ah----Ah----. Their unusual behaviour intrigued (interested) me. Were they enjoying their chorus with the alarm? Were they challenging the alarm?
    Second.My husband and I went to Vancouver in Canada five years ago. When we were walking in Stanley Park near the bay, we saw a crow flying above the esplanade by the sea. He held something in his beak. He dropped it on the esplanade. He tried to jump with the "something" many times but he dropped it each time. I thought as I watched his actions that he couldn't fly because of the big something. I thought how foolish he was! But, the next moment to my surprise, he got some food out of the something. I realized the something was a shell, and that he was trying to crack it open. The crow ate the shellfish and flew away. "Who was foolish?" "It was me!"

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Labor Thanksgiving Day

Yesterday was a holiday in Japan. It was Labor Thanksgiving Day. Here is info from Wikipedia:
  1. On this day, people are encouraged to give thanks for their employment and the prosperity that their working brings to their families. It is also a day to pay respects to civil servants, It is common for Elementary Schools to make “Thank You” cards for local hospitals, fire stations or Police boxes. HOWEVER, some people believe the true origins of the holiday go back much further to the 8th century.
  2. It was a day of thanksgiving. But it was originally intended to give thanks to the seasonal cereals that were harvested before the onset of the bitter cold winter. Through the cold seasons, people were reliant on rice, grain, millet and dried beans, so their showing thanks to the foods that kept them alive seems like a sensible idea.
  3. The holiday was formally known as Niiname Sai and the Emperor himself would dedicate the foods to the gods, and he would be the first in the country to taste the new rice harvest. Following the war and the removal of the Emperor’s family acting as head of state, this tradition was banned and the focus of the holiday was shifted.
How about you? Were you thankful?
 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Puzzler Answers

We woke up in Yokohama and are playing in an Under50 competition today. We are expecting good results but you never know. Puzzle Answers: CLICK HERE.

And here is a Super Scrabble Puzzle for your perusal. Cool Words:

POUT    HERB    MILKY      RALLY    LOONIE     ARC      GAPE      STRICT
 
Now, can you figure out the BLANKS? The answers are way down below.






























LEMUR      FASTED    HOUSE/ EVADES      ANGER/ANGEL

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Puzzler Hints

We are playing bridge in Yotsuya today. It is an Under 50/Under150 competition. We are looking forward to the challenge. Speaking of Challenges, did yo figure out the Puzzler? For your Hints:CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2015:   “Superlatives” (感嘆の言葉;すばらしい!)

1.  “I won a trip to Europe in a lottery!”  “Great!”
「くじでヨーロッパ旅行が当たったよ!」「やったね!」

2.  “The view from this building is fantastic!” “It sure is!” 
「このビルからの眺めはすばらしいね!」「本当に!」

3.  “Did you see the rugby game last night?  “I certainly did. It was awesome!”  
「夕べのラグビーの試合見た?」「もちろん。すごかった!」

4.  “That was a stunning dress she wore, wasn’t it?” “Yeah! It was out of this world!”   
「彼女のドレス素晴らしかったね!」「そうね!信じられないほど素敵だった!」

まだまだ他にもたくさんあります。ex) amazing, brilliant,  etc.

Try using them in your story!
I couldn't find any new weeds yesterday. I looks like the weed-killer is working.
 

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Puzzler

Ah, the weekend. And, it's three days long! Hooray! Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2015:   “Superlatives” (感嘆の言葉;すばらしい!)

1.  “I won a trip to Europe in a lottery!”  “Great!”
「くじでヨーロッパ旅行が当たったよ!」「やったね!」

2.  “The view from this building is fantastic!” “It sure is!” 
「このビルからの眺めはすばらしいね!」「本当に!」

3.  “Did you see the rugby game last night?  “I certainly did. It was awesome!”  
「夕べのラグビーの試合見た?」「もちろん。すごかった!」

4.  “That was a stunning dress she wore, wasn’t it?” “Yeah! It was out of this world!”   
「彼女のドレス素晴らしかったね!」「そうね!信じられないほど素敵だった!」

まだまだ他にもたくさんあります。ex) amazing, brilliant,  etc.

Try using them in your story!

This critter was part of the Kenkatsu Center Festival celebrating Saitama Prefecture Day
 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Book Report

I visited the Okegawa City library in Mine Department store last week. It is really nice! I looked around and found some interesting things. I found the English language books, got a new library card and then took out one book. It is titled 'A PROUD TASTE FOR SCARLET AND MINIVER'. It tells the story of how modern England and the Western world started. In the jacket it says the book is for 10 to 14 year-olds. Perfect for me! The story is Eleanor, a queen, who had two husbands. The first was, Louis, king of France. The second was Henry, king of England. So, she was queen of two different countries. It tells how she changed England to give the people freedom. She and Henry introduced and established a fair legal system for all people. They created a common currency (money). Of course there were wars, especially in her two families. The fun part of the book is that the story-tellers are dead and are in heaven. They are all waiting for King Henry to enter. You see, all people (except Saints) have to wait before they can enter heaven. Some wait for weeks, some wait for centuries. I wonder how long I will have to wait.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wash GOLF

We have a Volkswagen GOLF. Basically, it is a sport's car. It has cruise control and automatic braking. The brakes works with sensors. Almost everything is automatic. I feel the car is one big computer. But, it gets dirty just like any car. I had the chance to wash it on Sunday but I was too lazy. So, I did it on Monday. After my AM lesson I came back home to some very fine weather. I got the hose and sponge and brush and towels, chamois and tire wax and got to it. Then, out of the blue, the rice farmer came in his little truck. We talk sometimes. We exchanged greetings: "Nice weather." "Yes, it's hot." I told him that I worked two hours the day before weeding the lot. He knows the owner. He said that the owner had moved far away. I told him that we would like to use weed killer on the lot but we can't get the owner's permission. He said "I'll do it. I am just making the rounds poisoning all the weeds on my properties. I'll do this one, too." And, so he did. I told him that we don't have permission but he ignored me. He did the whole (entire/complete) lot in 15 minutes. Thank you and Nice Timing! (I took this pic this morning. Of course it rained twice after I washed my car. Nice timing?)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Weeding

I was out weeding Sunday. I had the whole day off as we decided not to play bridge. One reason is because we will play bridge next Sunday and Monday, which is a holiday. I was in front of the TV until 2PM. I watched two football games that I had recorded. I considered (thought about) washing my car. I hadn't washed it in a very long time. I decided to do it the next day, Monday. So, at 2:00 I changed into my weeding clothes. I went outside and got my gear: long boots, gloves, hoe, rake and sickle. I dug 50 or 60 weeds with the hand sickle. They were rather long and outstanding (easy to spot). Then I cut  the tops off a couple hundred weeds with my hoe. Then I raked those weeds and dirt and a lot of stones to the back of the lot. I raked them all onto the remaining weeds on the far end. As I raked I found some of those cluster roots which are very near the surface. I pulled them out. I also pulled some weeds and raked up the bamboo island. It looks nice. As I said, I washed my car the next day. And, I got really lucky! See tomorrow's BLOG. (They started building a new house on the other side of the vacant lot. SEE PIC)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bridge

We didn't play bridge two days ago. That was Sunday. But, we did play two Sundays ago. That was November 8th. We finished 1/13 and 3/21. We are definitely on a roll. That means that we have been successful for a period of time. The last time we played was in an Under 50 Under 100 competition. That has been the case a lot lately. We play with some higher level teams. But the last three times we played we have had first place finishes, either during one session (AM or PM) and/or for the day. Great! Some people have even complained, jokingly, that we are always 1st. Last year during Golden Week we made a "bridge vacation". Because of the holidays there was a competition almost every day. We played for six days. We came in last place almost every time. We were very disappointed. But it was a valuable experience. At that time no one complained that we were always last. Since then we have studied and practiced and played regularly. So naturally, we have improved. Next Monday is holiday. We will play bridge Sunday and Monday and stay one night in Yokohama. Wish us luck.
 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Puzzler Answers

And once again it's Monday. How was your weekend? Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

And here is a Super Scrabble Puzzle for your perusal. I think I will have a Super Scrabble Festival soon. I just LUV this game! COOL WORDS:

TOIL    DIFFER     MELODY     SAUNA    SWARM    HANDY     CHORE       PEONY
 
 
Now, can you figure out the BLANKS? The answers are way down below.




























QUITE           EXPERT           HER/EXAM           BLONDE

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Puzzler Hints

Today is my lovey wife, Miwako's, birthday! Happy Birthday to you! How old are you? Never mind. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2015:   “Superlatives” (感嘆の言葉;すばらしい!)

1.  “I won a trip to Europe in a lottery!”  “Great!”
「くじでヨーロッパ旅行が当たったよ!」「やったね!」

2.  “The view from this building is fantastic!” “It sure is!” 
「このビルからの眺めはすばらしいね!」「本当に!」

3.  “Did you see the rugby game last night?  “I certainly did. It was awesome!”  
「夕べのラグビーの試合見た?」「もちろん。すごかった!」

4.  “That was a stunning dress she wore, wasn’t it?” “Yeah! It was out of this world!”   
「彼女のドレス素晴らしかったね!」「そうね!信じられないほど素敵だった!」

まだまだ他にもたくさんあります。ex) amazing, brilliant,  etc.

Try using them in your story!

This is last Saturday's night's dinner in Oniya.
 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Puzzler

I had a great week and I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend. No Bridge! Wow! Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for November 2015:   “Superlatives” (感嘆の言葉;すばらしい!)

1.  “I won a trip to Europe in a lottery!”  “Great!”
「くじでヨーロッパ旅行が当たったよ!」「やったね!」

2.  “The view from this building is fantastic!” “It sure is!” 
「このビルからの眺めはすばらしいね!」「本当に!」

3.  “Did you see the rugby game last night?  “I certainly did. It was awesome!”  
「夕べのラグビーの試合見た?」「もちろん。すごかった!」

4.  “That was a stunning dress she wore, wasn’t it?” “Yeah! It was out of this world!”   
「彼女のドレス素晴らしかったね!」「そうね!信じられないほど素敵だった!」

まだまだ他にもたくさんあります。ex) amazing, brilliant,  etc.

Try using them in your story!

These are some more of my health check up results I have no idea what they mean.


 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Friday the 13th

I remember several superstitions that we have in America. One is that it is lucky to find a four-leaf clover. Another is that it is lucky to keep a rabbit's foot (Some people use them as key holders). Number 7 is also lucky. The unlucky superstitions are: walking under a ladder; having a black cat cross your path (walk in front of you); breaking a mirror; spilling salt; and Friday the 13th. All these superstitions have their roots in Europe. I have heard that Friday is unlucky because it was the day which Jesus Christ was crucified (killed/murdered). 13 is unlucky because...I don't know. I checked the net and found some answers (explanations). So, when these two unlucky superstitions get together, by chance, it is really unlucky. Did you know that there were three Friday the 13ths this year? There was one in February and one in March and now this month. There was only one last year and there will be only one next year. I don't think it is unlucky. Why because today is our wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary, Miwako!
Lucky! I found my check up results. Check them out below.
 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Health Check up

I get an annual (yearly) physical. That means that I go for a health check up every year. I always get "A"s on my health report card. Well, not all As. I get "C" every time for my expanded waistline. But that is another story. Last year when I got my results I was very surprised because I got a "D". SHOCK! Have you ever gotten a D? My doc told me that my kidney function was weak. I asked him what I could do to rectify (correct) the problem. He said "You need to drink more." I was delighted! I asked "Beer?". He said "No. Water." So, I started drinking two or three glasses of water every morning since then. I got my check up this time at Ishibashi clinic at the beginning of October. Last week, by chance M, had to make a stop there, and we did so on our way home from my Wednesday lesson. I went in and asked if my results had come in. I was happy when they told me YES. I could hardly wait to see the results. I rushed back to the car and opened the envelope. All "A"s. My kidneys were working just fine! Hooray! However I still got a "C" in waistline control. Sigh.
*Unfortunately I couldn't find my health check up results. As you can, see the photo is from Sunday's AM bridge session. We were HOT! We were ON FIRE! We bid and played well and came in 1 of 13 and 2 of 21.