Sunday, January 31, 2016

Puzzler Hints

We play in Takadanobaba this day. We hope for a rebound from the meltdown last Sunday afternoon. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for January 2016:  “What (a) ......! “

感嘆文...驚きや感動を表す時に使います。「なんて~なんでしょう!}
What (+形容詞 )+名詞 (+主語+動詞) !
形容詞も省略されることがあります。
 
What a (nice) surprise!    ビックリした~!
What a (wonderful/terrible) game!  なんて(すごい/ ひどい)試合なんだ!
What a good chance (that was )! (あれは)絶好のチャンスだった!
What fabulous singers they are!  なんてすばらしい歌手たちだ!

Below are three photos from the LSE Party. Happy People! Thank you all very much.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 



Saturday, January 30, 2016

Puzzler

I will enjoy a night out with my wife at the Yakitoriya tonight. What a treat! Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for January 2016:  “What (a) ......! “

感嘆文...驚きや感動を表す時に使います。「なんて~なんでしょう!}
What (+形容詞 )+名詞 (+主語+動詞) !
形容詞も省略されることがあります。
 
What a (nice) surprise!    ビックリした~!
What a (wonderful/terrible) game!  なんて(すごい/ ひどい)試合なんだ!
What a good chance (that was )! (あれは)絶好のチャンスだった!
What fabulous singers they are!  なんてすばらしい歌手たちだ!

Last Sunday's AM session. Very good!








 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Bridge.....PM meltdown

Yes, ladies and gentlemen my lovely wife and I were at the bridge table again last Sunday. To tell you the truth there is no place I would rather be. It was an Under 50/100 competition. The AM was ours. We did very well. Our bidding was very good. Our defense communications were sharp. I even counted cards a couple of times. We finished 3/12 and 3/7. That means we earned some high MPs. (See tomorrow's BLOG) After lunch we started the PM session. And everything went downhill. You can also say, Everything went south. That means we lost a lot. Every week many players say that after lunch they lose their concentration. But, we lost everything. I made some terrible bids and I forgot one important bid which we had discussed in the AM. I made one big mistake when playing. My partner made some bad mistakes. I think I was having too much fun with the opponents. I got too friendly. My partner said that was a strategy of the opponents. Of course, they are ladies. So, I learned my lesson. If we are to win, I have to concentrate harder and avoid the small talk with them. We will try again this Sunday. I can't wait!
 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Japanese O-sumo

I used to follow Sumo. That means that I would watch Sumo tournaments regularly and I would check the results daily and I knew most of the popular or strong wrestlers. I have been to see tournaments at the Sumo place in Tokyo four times. The first time was long, long ago when I first came to Japan. The most recent was last year. We got free tickets from my daughter's company. They were box seats...cool! But, I haven't watched this sport on TV for a long time. My mother-in-law watches regularly. She and her brother and my wife often discuss the daily results. We would say that she is an avid fan. I heard that an Ozeki-ranked guy won the first tournament this year. I also heard that he was the first Japanese wrestler to win in ten years. What a shock! It seems that these Mongolian guys have taken over the top spots. I knew it was happening but I didn't know that it had been ten years since a native son (Japanese born person) had won. I checked it out at the library on Monday. I read the Japan Time newspaper. The headlines said "Kotoshogiku ends Japan's drought." Congratulations!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shopper

Shopper is a weekly publication. It is like a newspaper. But, it is full of local information. It is distributed to areas. I will advertise in the Ageo/Ina/Kitamoto/Okegawa area publication. The paper has no "news". It contains information such as festivals, concerts, special events, performances, etc. They get their revenue (money) by selling space for local residents to advertise. I have used this publication maybe a dozen (12) times over the years. It is always for our business. I have advertised for students for our school and also to sell my CDs and text books. This time I want to tell everyone about our Homework for sale. There are two kinds: One is an ABC print for kindergarten kids. The other is a dictionary word look-up for elementary school kids. When I first contacted Shopper, the guy in charge was Fukuda-san. He came by last November to say hello and tell me that Kawano-san has taken his place. She is a nice person. I liked the way she smiles and makes eye contact. Very professional. I hope we get some good results.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

L.S.E. New Year Party

I teach English at the Kenkatsu Center every Thursday morning. The group is made up of (consists of) adults ranging from ladies in their 40s to guys in their 70s. There are currently 14 students. We have been together for a long time, more than 15 years, I think. (If anyone can confirm that, please tell me.) Of course we have a party every year. It is to get together outside the classroom and enjoy each others company. The food is always good. Some people drink alcohol and some don't. That is not a problem. Over the years, we have partied at different places around Omiya station, east side and west. The last two years we have gone to an Italian restaurant in Lumine 2, Omiya station. The food is good and the staff is friendly. The L.S.E. group is unique as they provide entertainment at the party. It is in the form of quizzes. 3, 4, 5 and sometimes more students will get up and ask questions, in English of course. Everyone has to think. No, problem. It is also educational. But, the highlight of the party is the magic show by one student. What a blast! I am one lucky English teacher!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Puzzler Answers

Back to work. I have my violin lesson this Thursday. It was changed from last Monday because of the snow. I am really looking forward to it. Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

And now a Super Scrabble board for your perusal. Cool Words:

LAME    BRAG    QUARRY     WIDEN     BROOD   COVET     INVEST     MESSY     TAUNT

Now, can you figure out the BLANKS? The answers are way down below.




























DANCED/ONCE       JERK     DAZED






Sunday, January 24, 2016

Puzzler Hints

We are in Yotsuya again this day. We will play in an Under 50/Under 100 competition again. We will win again...I hope! Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for January 2016:  “What (a) ......! “

感嘆文...驚きや感動を表す時に使います。「なんて~なんでしょう!}
What (+形容詞 )+名詞 (+主語+動詞) !
形容詞も省略されることがあります。
 
What a (nice) surprise!    ビックリした~!
What a (wonderful/terrible) game!  なんて(すごい/ ひどい)試合なんだ!
What a good chance (that was )! (あれは)絶好のチャンスだった!
What fabulous singers they are!  なんてすばらしい歌手たちだ!

I sent this photo to my friend. What a surpise for him!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Puzzler

I had extra time off this week because of the snow on Monday and then a day off from the Tuesday Kindergarten. So I did most of my Blogging last Monday and Tuesday. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for January 2016:  “What (a) ......! “

感嘆文...驚きや感動を表す時に使います。「なんて~なんでしょう!}
What (+形容詞 )+名詞 (+主語+動詞) !
形容詞も省略されることがあります。
 
What a (nice) surprise!    ビックリした~!
What a (wonderful/terrible) game!  なんて(すごい/ ひどい)試合なんだ!
What a good chance (that was )! (あれは)絶好のチャンスだった!
What fabulous singers they are!  なんてすばらしい歌手たちだ


Sunise Thursday
 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Bridge

We are picking up where we left off last year. That means that we are continuing this year the same as we ended last year. That is good news because we are winning. Yes, I prefer winning to losing. We have a new challenge this year. We want to improve our playing. I am reading a text book about defense. I have read it twice. And I continue to review it almost every day. There are many good hints and information in it. Last Sunday we went to Yotsuya. There was a competition for Under 100, Under 50 players. There were 12 teams. The very first game I had a chance to use one of the pieces of information I learned from my text book. My partner played the first card of the game. It was the 4 of clubs. Then I applied the 'Rule of 11'. That rule says to compute, 11 minus 4 equals 7. That tells me some valuable information. I knew the opponent had the 10 or king of clubs. I played accordingly. That means that I played using this information. He had the ten and my partner had the king. Success!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Snow

It certainly did snow a lot Monday. I woke up at 4AM. I wanted to watch football on TV from the USA. Of course, I heard that it was going to snow here. When I went to sleep Sunday night it was raining a little. But, at 4AM everything was white. It was still dark but I could see it by the street light in front of our house. We bought a new car 3 years ago. We also bought snow chains. I put them on once for practice. It wasn't too difficult. I decided to put them on this time. I got the chains out of the attic. I then found the DVD that shows how to put them on. The young lady in the DVD did it so easily. So, after one football game I went outside to put them on the tires. It was raining. It wasn't raining or snowing in the DVD. I had trouble getting my car in a smooth place on the street. Two neighbors came to help. Thank you! We got my car on the street with our shovels and I finally put the chains on. They are actually very hard rubber with steel spring locks. It took one hour. I was able to take my daughter to the station safely. What an experience!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Traffic ticket

This is one BLOG I hoped I would never write. "Speed kills" is a saying that we have in America. That means, that if you drive too fast, you may cause an accident and someone may get hurt. Or, worse than that, someone may die. I always tell my students that. HOWEVER, recently I have been driving too fast. I have been speeding. I have been trying to make the green light. For example, when the light (traffic signal) is red, you must stop. When the traffic signal is green (or Japanese 'blue') you can proceed (go/continue). When the traffic signal is yellow, you must decide whether to stop or continue. But, before the traffic signal turned yellow I would speed up. Then I could coast through the light when it was yellow. Two weeks ago I went to teach at the Yoshino Houikuen in Kawagoe. I had a chance to use the car. After the lesson I was hurrying so I could get to the restaurant for lunch. I was driving through rice fields. And then, I didn't see the S-T-O-P sign. I went through it. The police siren sounded behind me. I got a traffic violation (ticket). I am a safe driver now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

School mascot

I am not a plant person. That means that I am not interested in plants. So I do not have any plants in my home. But I do have one in my school. We opened our school 16 years ago in 2000. A friend, Matti, and his wife, gave us a plant as a gift. That friend has long since gone but the plant remains. I have changed the pot once. That was when one of my young students knocked the plant off the stand where it "lives". It is a cactus. It blooms in the winter. I usually let the leaves (branches) grow long and let the flowers bloom. There are usually many. This year I tried something different. I saw it on the Internet. The guy said to keep trimming the leaves. Whenever a new one appeared (came out) I twisted it off. That kept the leaves short. I expected many flowers to appear this year. BUT, it turns out (it happens) that I got only two. What a gyp! I have seen many of these cacti and they always have lots of small red flowers. I will not cut any leaves this year.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Puzzler Answers

What a weekend! I will be very busy this week. How about you? Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE

And now, how about a Super Scrabble Puzzle for your perusal? Cool Words:

 
YIELD      DEBUT     PROXY    TORRID    SUAVE    BLAND      MISTY    VOWEL    TOCK


Now, can you figure out the BLANKS? The answers are way down below.



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
QUITE/RAT        EXTRA/SLAY        HAPPY/LUMP


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Puzzler Hints

What a Beautiful Day! We will play bridge in Yotsuya. I hope we can continue our success. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.
 
HOME PROJECT for January 2016:  “What (a) ......! “

感嘆文...驚きや感動を表す時に使います。「なんて~なんでしょう!}
What (+形容詞 )+名詞 (+主語+動詞) !
形容詞も省略されることがあります。
 
What a (nice) surprise!    ビックリした~!
What a (wonderful/terrible) game!  なんて(すごい/ ひどい)試合なんだ!
What a good chance (that was )! (あれは)絶好のチャンスだった!
What fabulous singers they are!  なんてすばらしい歌手たちだ!


Pretty cold these mornings.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Puzzler

I have lots of work and study to do this weekend. I can relax maybe a little. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.
 
HOME PROJECT for January 2016:  “What (a) ......! “


感嘆文...驚きや感動を表す時に使います。「なんて~なんでしょう!}
What (+形容詞 )+名詞 (+主語+動詞) !
形容詞も省略されることがあります。
 
What a (nice) surprise!    ビックリした~!
What a (wonderful/terrible) game!  なんて(すごい/ ひどい)試合なんだ!
What a good chance (that was )! (あれは)絶好のチャンスだった!
What fabulous singers they are!  なんてすばらしい歌手たちだ!


One of the best singers from the Karaoke Party last week
 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Party Number Two

Last Monday was the "Coming of Age" day here in Japan. It was a day off for me. The nice students at the Seibu Bunka Center in Omiya decided to have a New Year party this day. We met in Omiya at 1PM. I was rather busy that morning. I watched football on TV in the early morning and then did some cleaning. I took off the Christmas decorations from the front window and then cleaned it thoroughly. There was a lot of cellophane tape to be cleaned off. Then I finally washed the windows in the living room. It was getting late so I took a quick shower and got to the party just in time. There were nine happy student and me. We partied at a place called TENGU near Sogo department store. We were the only customers. What a treat! The food was good and there were plenty of drinks. I drank two beers while talking to the students around me. We also ate the delicious cuisine. Then I moved over to talk to three other students. There I dank some Japanese sake. We stayed longer than planned, until 4PM. When we left the restaurant it was still light. I made it home safely. It was very enjoyable. Thank you all very much.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bridge

Our bridge day came in the middle of the three day weekend so I will BLOG it here. We originally registered to play in Tokyo but that competition was cancelled. We decided to go to Yokohama. This is not our favorite place to play. We go there maybe eight or nine times a year. It is a little far. Also, we have never won any IMPs (points) there. But, this was our first chance to play in 2016. It took close to two hours to get there. We arrived early. We discussed some strategies and watched the other players come in. Then we played. We came in 8 of 9 in the morning. That was OK. It was our first day back and we tried some new techniques. I felt we improved a little. In the afternoon we played as usual. But, it seems the other players got tired or lost concentration or fell asleep or something. What a surprise! We finished 2 of 9 in the PM and 2 of 9 for the tournament. That was our first time to collect points here. To be honest, we received a lot of gifts from the other players. They made mistakes at the right time to help us raise our score. We were very lucky indeed. Thank you all very much.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Kenkatsu member's Party

I had a busy weekend. I taught Saturday from 9 to 11AM at my school and then from 1:15 until 4:45PM at the Kenkatsu Center. From there I went by New Shuttle to Omiya with two students. One guy had to to go Tamachi to meet friends and the other guy and I were going to a New Year party. This party was with the Kenkatsu students. We arrived Omiya an hour early so we went for a "primer". That is, to have a drink before the party. We then made our way to the restaurant and met eight other students. The food was pretty good and everyone had the drinks of their choice. I talked with students at one end of the table and then I went to the other end of the table to chat with the students there. Two new members came for the first time. After dinner, five of us went to sing at a Karaoke place. One of the new guys joined us. This was also fun. I got to sing some new songs, too. One lady only knew Disney songs, so I sang a couple of those for the first time ever. More fun, and I even remember coming home. Thanks everybody!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Coming of Age Day

Coming of Age Day or Seijin no Hi is an important holiday marking the rite of passage into adulthood for 20-year-olds in Japan. From the age of twenty, the Japanese are considered legal adults and can vote, drink and smoke.
Coming of Age Day can be traced back to the Edo period. It became a national holiday in 1948. The holiday was originally celebrated on January 15th, but in the year 2000 was changed to the second Monday of January.
Women usually don a special type of kimono called a furisode for the occasion – distinguishable by its long hanging sleeves. Furisode may not be worn until a woman reaches adulthood so Coming of Age Day marks the first time females can wear this garment. Wearing the furisode signifies that she is of legal age and available for marriage. It is the most formal kimono for single women and is usually worn when attending weddings or participating in tea ceremonies. The “swinging sleeves” are said to either dispel evil spirits or allure male suitors. The furisode may not be worn after wedlock.
 
 
 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Puzzler Answers

So, week 2 of 2016 starts. I wonder what will happen? Something good, I trust. Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

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


TAXI     DOZEN    MAXIM    IRE       AVID    GAPE     GANG     SUP   
 
Now, can you fiure out the BLANKS? The anwers are way down below.




























FILTERS             STRAIN                   ROUSED/REBEL                     ELBOW/WORRY   

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Puzzler Hints

The great news is that we have a holiday already tomorrow and bridge today! Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for January 2016:  “What (a) ......! “

 
感嘆文...驚きや感動を表す時に使います。「なんて~なんでしょう!}
What (+形容詞 )+名詞 (+主語+動詞) !
形容詞も省略されることがあります。
 
What a (nice) surprise!    ビックリした~!
What a (wonderful/terrible) game!  なんて(すごい/ ひどい)試合なんだ!
What a good chance (that was )! (あれは)絶好のチャンスだった!
What fabulous singers they are!  なんてすばらしい歌手たちだ!

Looking for something to eat.
 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Puzzler

It's the New Year, 2016, and I am ready to GO! Puzzler CLICK HERE.
 
HOME PROJECT for January 2016:  “What (a) ......! “


感嘆文...驚きや感動を表す時に使います。「なんて~なんでしょう!}
What (+形容詞 )+名詞 (+主語+動詞) !
形容詞も省略されることがあります。
 
What a (nice) surprise!    ビックリした~!
What a (wonderful/terrible) game!  なんて(すごい/ ひどい)試合なんだ!
What a good chance (that was )! (あれは)絶好のチャンスだった!
What fabulous singers they are!  なんてすばらしい歌手たちだ!


The nice men at the Hiwaka Shrine, Kitaageo

 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Bridge results 2015

We played bridge twice in December. The results for the day were no good, but we did have one 3rd place finish one afternoon. However, that does not give us any MPs. So, when we got our monthly bridge results report from JCBL (Japan Contract Bridge League) we knew our results for the year. Check it out. We started the year with 11.25 MPs. Our goal was to reach 20MPs. We reached that mark (goal) in May. We played well the rest of the year. Many times we were given "gifts" by the opponents when they made mistakes. In the beginning we played in a lower class of tournaments. But, from July we joined the Under 50 Under 100 events. We still scored high. Again there was some luck but our skills definitely improved. We earned (got) 31.51 MPs in 2015. We are very pleased with that. We will set no MP goal for 2016. We have to improve our play because the other players are also improving. Our goal is to communicate better and read the cards better. That is very hard work. We are reading books now. We will have meetings to discuss strategies. We start Sunday. Wish us luck!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Family get together

My wife's sister was in town with her two sons (9 and 5) and husband. They live in France. My wife's other sister lives in Tokyo with her son and daughter and husband. The younger sister stayed with us for a few days and she stayed with the sister in Tokyo for a few days and finally stayed at her husband's house in Tokyo. She and her sons also stayed in Kamakura one night with an uncle and his family. So, she was always on the move. Before returning to France we all got together for a party in Ueno. It was at a nice restaurant opposite the Ueno station building. There were the three sisters, three husbands, two daughters, three sons and one son-in-law. Our youngest daughter had to work so she couldn't make it (attend the event). Also missing (absent) was the mother. a.k.a. grandmother a.k.a. the soon to be great grandmother. She was busy elsewhere (somewhere else). It started at 12:30 for lunch. The food was very good and the conversation and atmosphere was lively. We stayed for almost fours. We all had a good time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A visit to the grave

And right after the visit to the shrine, it was an excellent chance (opportunity) for the four of us to pay a visit to the family grave together. Do you do that regularly? My wife and mom-in-law and I try to do that once a month. It takes about 40 minutes from our house to get there by car. I always like to look at the other grave markers. They are much bigger than a typical American grave marker. And since we bury the deceased (died and went to heaven person) in a coffin you need more space in the USA. The grave markers are one next to the other here in Japan. But, I guess here in Japan everything is one next to the other. Anyway, I think this is the first time in one year that the four of us went together. It doesn't take very long. As always, my job (task) is to wash the metal flower holders. They are spic and span when I am through (finished) cleaning them!. The ladies take care of washing and drying the marker. We then all pay our silent respects to the dead and then say a few words and then move on. It was nice.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A visit to the Shrine

We visit a shrine every new year. We got lucky this time. Our two daughters were able to join us. They are both working full time at companies in Tokyo. They have very different schedules so it is difficult sometimes for all of us to get together. On January 1st, we had an O-sechi breakfast together then we played a card game. It is called DaiHinMin. We played for 4 games for 30 minutes. It was fun. I was DaiHinMin the first two games and then, Fugo and finally DaiFugo. With that we drove to a local shrine. It is in KitaAgeo. It is a Hikawa shrine. When we lived in Omiya we made the trip to the Hikawa shrine in Omiya park regularly. We came to Ageo 10 years ago and searched for something nearby. We came upon this shrine 5 years ago and have been regular visitors ever since. Of course we got fortune cards and I drank some Amazake. I noticed that they have a "return bin" for old shine artifacts. So, I took one old Daruma there on January 3rd. The weather was fine and we enjoyed the visit.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Jigsaw Puzzle 3 of 3

I estimate that it took a total of 20 hours to make this puzzle. The green grass on the bottom took a long time. It started slowly. I got a lot of help from the sheep. While looking at the picture, I found the sheep one by one and put them together. Then I could build around them. Everything is green. It took a while but as the number of pieces decreased it got easier. Finally I had to tackle the sky. As I thought, it was difficult. It took five hours. It was the final step. The color change was very gradual (not clear) so it was difficult. I started the cloud side first. But I ran into some roadblocks (dead ends). So, I switched to the blue sky. It was difficult, too. I then got an inspiration (idea). I separated the remaining pieces into three shapes. Some had "spade" shapes, some had "diamond" shapes and the rest had a basic shape. This helped a lot but it still took a long time to finish. It was the year end. I had nothing else important to do. And, my kids and wife were very busy with other things so they could not help much. In the end, it was very enjoyable indeed.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Jigsaw Puzzle 2 of 3

I started doing the puzzle last week Tuesday. It is 1,000 pieces. I opened the box and package and then put all the pieces onto the table. I turned them over one by one, and separated them into blue sky, sky with clouds, green grass, castle and sky and castle. I then began work on the frame. I found all the frame pieces. They all have a straight edge. While doing that, I found the four corners. They are very important. It took over an hour to make the frame. When I bought the puzzle I found two that I liked. They didn't have any 500 piece ones, so I had to buy a one-thousand piece one. We can do a 500 piece puzzle in one day. And I hesitated to buy this puzzle because I knew the sky would take a long time. After building the frame I built the outline for the castle. The bottom of the castle was interesting with all the colors and shadows and shapes and people and flags and buses. I finally went to sleep. Miwako built the castle. Leo, our cat, was too busy talking with his friend to help.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Jigsaw Puzzle 1 of 3

We did a jigsaw puzzle during the holidays. It is 1,000 pieces. Last year and the year before we did a 500 piece one. Speaking of jigsaw puzzles, my father loved to do them. After he retired, for the next 20 years, he was in his basement (cellar) doing jigsaw puzzles. When we visited from Japan, I helped him sometimes. It was an easy Christmas present for him, too. I sent him several puzzles from Japan. Once I took a photo of his two granddaughters (my kids) at a riverside. I then had the photo made into a 300 piece puzzle. I sent him the puzzle without a picture. He enjoyed it. His claim to fame (proudest achievement) is a 10,000 piece puzzle. It was the Sistine Chapel. My father also was an excellent card player, especially bridge. He also loved doing crossword puzzles. He worked at a FORD factory in Detroit for 45 years. At that time, he created a football gambling game. It cost $1.00 to play. 30 or 40 people would play every week. There was no profit for him, but  he enjoyed doing it. I think I take after him in some ways. We both like puzzles and games. You could say "Like father, like son."






















hapel.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Cheers!