Saturday, April 30, 2016

No Puzzler

It is GW so the Puzzler is on vacation. The big news is that my best buddy from the US of A is in town. I have arranged group tours for him with many of my students. He and I will also cruise and have some fun. Those stories will be coming soon. For right now, check out our bridge results from last Sunday. I must admit I was terrible. I have to concentrtate more. We played yesterday and hopefully next Tuesday. I want to take tomorrow off to clean up the garden. How about you? What are you doing?


Friday, April 29, 2016

GW

I LUV Golden Week. And you?
The Golden Week is a collection of four national holidays within seven days. In combination with well placed weekends, the Golden Week becomes one of Japan's three busiest holiday seasons, besides New Year and the Obon week.
Trains, airports and sightseeing spots get very crowded during Golden Week, and accommodation in tourist areas can get booked out well in advance.
The national holidays making up the Golden Week are:
  • April 29
    Showa Day (Showa no hi):
    April 29 is the birthday of former Emperor Showa, who died in the year 1989. Until 2006, Greenery Day (see May 4) used to be celebrated on this day.
     
  • May 3
    Constitution Day (Kenpo kinenbi):
    On this day in 1947, the new postwar constitution was put into effect.
     
  • May 4
    Greenery Day (Midori no hi):
    Until 2006, Greenery Day used to be celebrated on April 29, the birthday of former Emperor Showa. The day is dedicated to the environment and nature, because the emperor loved plants and nature. Before being declared Greenery Day, May 4 used to be a national holiday due to a law, which declares a day, that falls between two national holidays, a national holiday.
     
  • May 5
    Children's Day (Kodomo no hi):
    The Boy's Festival (Tango no Sekku) is celebrated on this day. Families pray for the health and future success of their sons by hanging up carp streamers and displaying samurai dolls, both symbolizing strength, power and success in life. The Girl's Festival is celebrated on March 3.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Finished

We opened our school in 2000. About a year later I decided that we needed a box outside to hold our school information. That way people can pick up our info without talking directly to us and/or they can pick up our info even when the school is closed. I thought this would be useful especially on Sundays. I made a design and called the then Omiya City Silver Center. They use a lot of retired people. They were carpenters, electricians, gardeners, repair persons, secretaries, maintenance persons, etc. I got a carpenter to use my design and build the holder. Then Miwako painted the lid. That is the little door on top. It opens upwards, not sideways. That was 14 years ago. We got the new one built recently and again, Miwako painted the lid. She studies TOLL painting, That is a style of painting which comes from America. She is very good. We have objects around the house which she has painted. They are nice because they are not so big. This one is beautiful don't you think?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Weeding

Spring is here. Weeds are everywhere. And there are many different types. I have pulled a lot of different weeds in our garden. The vacant lot next door is specializing in one type. It is a field horsetail according to my dictionary. In Japanese you say Sugina. But, right now, Tsukushi are everywhere. They have a nice green color and they smell bad. I was out digging them up yesterday at 5:30AM. I used a shovel, my special mountain hiking boots and gloves. Even after I cleaned everything up when I finished, my hands still smelled like those weeds. You can see the spore shoot of the field horsetails in the photo. Several neighbors have told me that you have to dig very deep to get the roots out. I tried poison a couple of weeks ago. There was no effect. I decided to quit spraying that type of weed killer. I heard of another one. I will try it later. For now, I will continue to dig deep to try to get those roots out. Of course I will do it little by little. And mornings are best for me.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Dinner Party

We went to the Bob Dylan concert last Tuesday. It was a regular teaching day for me. So, I requested those Tuesday students to come at different times or days. They all agreed. The kids were easy to arrange. They are quite flexible. But, I have one adult class at 7PM. They can only come at night and that is my only adult class at night. So, I asked them to come last Saturday night at 6PM. That was after my Kenkatsu lesson. Four current students and two former students came. Recently I got a TOEIC text and CD from one student. I wanted to try them out. I have never used a TOEIC text or CD before. We listened to 15 conversations. They were rather difficult! One point is that they use a variety of accents. They use American and British and Australian....I think. So, after listening to these problems and thinking very hard we all went to a nearby restaurant for dinner and drinks. Everyone  enjoyed this much more than the English lesson, I am sure.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Puzzler Answers

My buddy, John, arrives this Thursday. I'm starting to get a little excited. Puzzle Answers: CLICK HERE.

And now, a Super Scrabble Puzzle for your perusal. Also, I'm considering having an SS event in June. You coming or what? Cool Words:

URN         LIMB          CON           CAUSE            DEALT            TRASH           NEON
 
 

So, what do you think? Can you figure out the BLANKS? The answers are way down below.

H



























PRIZE                   TROUT                    DIAPER                       KNOCK

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Puzzler Hints

Busy, busy, busy. I plan to visit the gym tonight after bridge! Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for April 2016 : words containing the letters “qu”

quiz queen question mosquito liquid quit quiet quite quality quantity quick require unique equipment square earthquake quarter quartet quintet mannequin squeeze quartz antique bouquet equator squirrel quack acquire inquire quest quote equation qualify acquaintance conquer plaque quarrel squall tequila quiche, etc.

“q”  の後に必ず ”u”  が来るのはなぜでしょう? それは英語の歴史に関係があります。古英語には”Q"という文字はありませんでした。
[kw]という音は-cw-と綴っていました。それが他言語の影響により-qu- と変化しました。そのため[kw]の音を含む単語はすべて”qu”が入っているのです。
I attacked the weds here yesterday and today. See Tuesday's BLOG for details.
 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Puzzler

Finally, the weekend. It is a chance to pull weeds and enjoy playing bridge. There is little time to rest. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for April 2016 : words containing the letters “qu”

quiz queen question mosquito liquid quit quiet quite quality quantity quick require unique equipment square earthquake quarter quartet quintet mannequin squeeze quartz antique bouquet equator squirrel quack acquire inquire quest quote equation qualify acquaintance conquer plaque quarrel squall tequila quiche, etc.

“q”  の後に必ず ”u”  が来るのはなぜでしょう? それは英語の歴史に関係があります。古英語には”Q"という文字はありませんでした。
[kw]という音は-cw-と綴っていました。それが他言語の影響により-qu- と変化しました。そのため[kw]の音を含む単語はすべて”qu”が入っているのです。
This is the owner of TARO. We drank here a couple of times this month.

Friday, April 22, 2016

A visit to the grave

Visiting the grave: this is a custom in Japan. In America most deceased people are not cremated. After death the bodies are prepared for the funeral. Then they  are placed in a casket (box). There is a ceremony at a church. Then the casket is taken to a cemetery in a hearse. (The same as in Japan.) In America the casket containing the deceased is buried in the ground. That is different here in Japan. Bodies are cremated. Those remains are placed in an urn. They are placed in the family grave. But it is not underground. It is like a small building above ground. We go once a month to remember the dead. Our family plot here in Japan, is about 20 minutes by car from our house. Of course there are special Buddhist holidays when we always go to the cemetery. But, as a custom, we try to visit monthly. Three of us visited the grave last week. We cleaned the stone and placed flowers in the holders and laid some burning incense in the stand. It is my chance to remember my relatives who are no longer with us.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bob Dylan Concert

Question: Do you know who Bob Dylan is? He is Robert Allen Zimmerman born May 24, 1941 in Minnesota, USA. His occupation is singer-songwriter, artist and writer. His musical genre is folk, blues, rock, country and gospel. He plays the guitar, keyboards, the harmonica and sings. Several months ago I heard on an NHK radio program that he was bringing his tour to Japan. I called my wife and said "Let's go see it". She agreed. We bought the tickets immediately and waited until Tuesday, two days ago. His tour started in the 1980s and continues today. It is called The Never Ending Tour. I arranged my Tuesday class schedules and asked the students to come on different days and times. All agreed. Hooray! We left Okegawa by car at 4PM and headed to Shibuya. We arrived very early. We had soba and then a coffee at an outdoor cafe. The concert started at 7PM. There were five band members with Bob. The show was excellent He sang 21 songs. I knew about half. His voice was raspy, but it was no mistaking his unique voice. Thank you, Bob.
 
 
 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bridge

We went to Shibuya to play bridge last Sunday. We hadn't been there for quite some time. I think this was only our second time this year. The weather was fine so we got there under one hour. I then parked the car and we got our seats. We were team number 19. The room is not very big and with 19 teams, it was crowded but not uncomfortably. You had to be careful when you walked around. Actually I knocked over my bidding box and all the cards fell onto the floor. Luckily, there was another set nearby and I used it. We heard that most of the players had played the day before. So, they had a lot of practise, I thought. The playing was cool, because we met half the people in the AM session and then the other half in the PM session. We finished in a tie for 7th and 8th place in the morning.  We were over 50% so it was successful. However we were NUMERO UNO (That is Spanish for NUMBER ONE) in the afternoon. We had a 61% success rate which was far higher than all the other players. We came in fourth for the day. With a little more luck we could have been 2nd. Maybe next time.
 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Earthquake Information

April 15, 2015
1. A 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck Kumamoto Prefecture in the Kyushu region of Japan at 9:26 pm (UTC+09:00), on Thursday, April 14.  Aftershocks continued through the night of April 14-15.  Kumamoto is approximately 730 miles southwest of Tokyo.  Authorities report nine confirmed deaths and as many as 1,000 injured.  Local authorities report no U.S. citizens among the casualties.  No tsunami warning was issued.  The Japan Meteorological Agency reported several aftershocks, some of which exceeded 5.0 magnitude.   Aftershocks may continue for up to a week.  Heavy rains are expected in the region over the coming weekend, which may lead to landslides.
2. The Embassy and the Consulate in Fukuoka will continue to provide updates on the situation in Kumamoto.  
3. U.S. citizens in the area should monitor local news reports, follow directions from local officials, and take other appropriate actions as needed.  Information on affected areas is available in English at the websites of the Japan Meteorological Agency: http://www.jma.go.jp/en/quake/
4. U.S. citizens traveling or living in the affected region should consider contacting with friends and family to let them know you are safe.  Any inquiries related can be directed to the Embassy in Tokyo or the Consulate in Fukuoka.


Monday, April 18, 2016

Puzzler Answers

It`s getting warmer. Are you ready for the change?  Answers: CLICK HERE

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

PLUSH     FUSSY     SOLAR      SIREN      AGREE      CRIME       VARY       INJURE      DEATH

Now, how about the BLANKS? Can you figure them out? The answers are way down below.































































EQUATE   ZEBRA / SIDE    EXIST    FACT

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Puzzler Hints

That was quick! It's Sunday and time for bridge and some gardening. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for April 2016 : words containing the letters “qu”

quiz queen question mosquito liquid quit quiet quite quality quantity quick require unique equipment square earthquake quarter quartet quintet mannequin squeeze quartz antique bouquet equator squirrel quack acquire inquire quest quote equation qualify acquaintance conquer plaque quarrel squall tequila quiche, etc.

“q”  の後に必ず ”u”  が来るのはなぜでしょう? それは英語の歴史に関係があります。古英語には”Q"という文字はありませんでした。
[kw]という音は-cw-と綴っていました。それが他言語の影響により-qu- と変化しました。そのため[kw]の音を含む単語はすべて”qu”が入っているのです。

These two lovely lades will be part of John's entourage
 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Puzzler

I will be very busy from now till the summer. Of course, that is good. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for April 2016 : words containing the letters “qu”

quiz queen question mosquito liquid quit quiet quite quality quantity quick require unique equipment square earthquake quarter quartet quintet mannequin squeeze quartz antique bouquet equator squirrel quack acquire inquire quest quote equation qualify acquaintance conquer plaque quarrel squall tequila quiche, etc.

“q”  の後に必ず ”u”  が来るのはなぜでしょう? それは英語の歴史に関係があります。古英語には”Q"という文字はありませんでした。
[kw]という音は-cw-と綴っていました。それが他言語の影響により-qu- と変化しました。そのため[kw]の音を含む単語はすべて”qu”が入っているのです。

These are the two years I "teach" on Wednedays.
 

Friday, April 15, 2016

New task Part 2

So, we needed a new flyer information holder for the school. It is outside. So, it takes all the weather. It takes the direct sunshine in the summer in the quiet, early mornings. It takes typhoon rains and winds. Very strong winds make the lid open and shut with a loud BANG! It was time for a new one so I contacted the Okegawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry. We are a member. They gave me a telephone number. I called the company and they sent a carpenter to check it out. I told them I paid 7,000en for the last one. They agreed. Three days later they brought the new one. It looked almost exactly like the old one except newer. BUT, they used some of the old pieces. The three white plastic plates inside are the same. The front mosaic plastic plate is the same. That is OK. But some of the screws and hinges were the same old rusty ones! That was unacceptable (NG). I called the owner. I said very calmly "I will pay only 6,000en". He replied very calmly "OK". I varnished it twice. I bought some new hinges and hung it outside. Now Miwako will paint the lid and it will be finished.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

New task Part 1

RAM English Service is a mom and pop company. That means that the husband and wife are the owners. So, my wife and I are required to do many kinds of, and all of, the work in the company. The benefit is that we answer to no one but ourselves. That is, we have no boss. We are responsible for all the successes and failures. So, we work very hard. My most recent job concerns the piece you see in the photo. It is our new outdoor flyer holder. We opened our school in 2000. A couple of years in (later) I decided that we needed such a flyer holder outside the building. That way, people could get our school information at any time, day or night and Sundays. I designed it. It has a clear front panel so I can tell (know) when the school menus run out. It has three slots to hold the A4 size flyers. These are open at the bottom so dirt does not collect inside. Two months ago I decided that we needed a new one. The old one was coming apart and not really good looking anymore: kind of like me. Part 2 tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Weed killing

This may be the beginning of the end. I pulled weeds all last year in the field next door. In the fall the neighbor who owns several rice fields sprayed weed killer on "my" vacant lot. Then I enjoyed looking at it all winter. Now spring has sprung (come). And so did the weeds. I attacked them three times. I filled three bags last Sunday AM and then yesterday I sprayed the weed killer. My neighbor gave me some strong poison. I had a bottle of rather (quite) weak weed killer. I showed it to him while getting his advice and he made the switch. So, yesterday at 6:40AM I got my gardening outfit and rubber gloves, a mask and my big rubber boots. These are all to protect me. I had a little trouble at first with the sprayer. I bought the cheapest one. And, it worked like the cheapest one. I finally got the hang of it (got used to it) and sprayed the entire lot in about 20 minutes. I had some killer left in the tank so I sprayed some more until the tank was empty. I then cleaned everything thoroughly (completely). I think I did OK.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Bridge

This time we were in Takadanobaba for an Under 50/100 tournament. We left at 9:12 and got there quite quickly. Just one hour. I dropped off Miwako in front of the Bridge Center and then I drove to look for a parking place. You can park on the street for free as it is Sunday. I recently found a supermarket that has delicious sandwiches. I bought one and then walked 5 minutes join the other players on the 3rd floor. We had a couple of minutes to discuss strategies and then the first boards came. There were 22 of them for each session. There were 12 teams and we knew everyone. The winner for the day were the mother and son team. The son is very good. We started out well in the AM but finished 7th with 49.55% accuracy. We improved greatly in the PM session to finish 4th overall. We had a combined total of 51.36%. As always, the goal is to acquire more than 50% accuracy. So, we decided to drink after we got home. We went to Taro near our house. The fourth place finish made the beer taste so much better!
 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Puzzler Answers

I have two more days of extra free time left. Then I am back on my full schedule. Yes, I can! Puzzler Answers: CLICK HERE.

And now, a Super Scrabble puzzle for your perusal. Cool words:

SIGH    STINT    DODGE    SUDDEN     TYPE     DOUSE     SURGE    VEX    CRAZY

And, how about the BLANKS? Can you figure them out? The answers are way down below.




























QUEEN            FLAW/FLEW/FLOW              TRIO         RAINBOW

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Puzzler Hints

Guess what? We play bridge today! No surprise there though. Puzzler Hints:CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for April 2016 : words containing the letters “qu”

quiz queen question mosquito liquid quit quiet quite quality quantity quick require unique equipment square earthquake quarter quartet quintet mannequin squeeze quartz antique bouquet equator squirrel quack acquire inquire quest quote equation qualify acquaintance conquer plaque quarrel squall tequila quiche, etc.

“q”  の後に必ず ”u”  が来るのはなぜでしょう? それは英語の歴史に関係があります。古英語には”Q"という文字はありませんでした。
[kw]という音は-cw-と綴っていました。それが他言語の影響により-qu- と変化しました。そのため[kw]の音を含む単語はすべて”qu”が入っているのです。


Cherry trees at Higashi Kindergarten yesterday morning

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Puzzler

This is my last free Saturday for a while. I hope to squeeze in a fun thing to do this day. Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for April 2016 : words containing the letters “qu”

quiz queen question mosquito liquid quit quiet quite quality quantity quick require unique equipment square earthquake quarter quartet quintet mannequin squeeze quartz antique bouquet equator squirrel quack acquire inquire quest quote equation qualify acquaintance conquer plaque quarrel squall tequila quiche, etc.

“q”  の後に必ず ”u”  が来るのはなぜでしょう? それは英語の歴史に関係があります。古英語には”Q"という文字はありませんでした。
[kw]という音は-cw-と綴っていました。それが他言語の影響により-qu- と変化しました。そのため[kw]の音を含む単語はすべて”qu”が入っているのです。

This is right around the corner from my house.


 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Violin

This is my fifth year studying and practicing the violin. It is quite difficult. It requires a lot of practice and training to become good. I will never become good. My goal is to be able to play confidently some day. I remember when I first started. I played some notes for my wife. I thought I was doing great! She said all my notes were off! I couldn't believe it. That was long ago. Now, I believe it. Hitting the notes properly is very hard for me. But, there is also bowing. The bow must be straight. Many times I pull the bow inwards, towards my body. That is a No-No. And just this year I have started working harder on my timing. Basically, I have no rhythm. I do not play the notes long enough. I.e., they are too short. I think that is because I am too anxious. I can't wait. I didn't use a metronome for the first four years. It was too difficult. But now I am using it. I connect it to speakers so the beats are quite loud. I record my playing and check the timing. It has improved. But, as I said, I will never become good. Just enjoy!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Weed Attack Year 2

All last summer I pulled weeds. These were tall, ugly weeds that grew next door. Next door is a vacant lot. There is nothing there; just weeds. Those weeds create (make) pollen. They were unhealthy and ugly so I pulled all those weeds out. It was beautiful all winter. Now, spring has come and those weeds are "rearing their ugly heads" again. That means they are reappearing. I pulled some already, but they keep coming. I have decided to spray poison on them. I bought a small sprayer with a pump last week. One neighbor gave me a bottle of weed killer. I got some advice from another neighbor on how and when to apply the weed killer. So, I am waiting for dry weather. I also bought rubber gloves and new rubber boots. I will use these only when I do the spraying. I must also wear a mask. These will all protect me. The neighbor also advised me not to spray near the fence that borders our garden and the vacant lot. He said it may harm (hurt) our garden plants. I think I am ready. I hope to attack next Monday.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Gym

I have four weeks of special freedom. It happens three times a year. It is spring break, or vacation, now. That means that schools are off. Consequently, so are kindergartens. I work at three kindergartens. So, I am free Monday, Tuesday and Friday morning for four weeks. The Kenkastu Saturday lessons are also off at the same time for four weeks. What should I do? I decided to go to the gym. It is in the SUN Arena in Okegawa. I joined there several years ago but quit going soon after. I went there two weeks ago to check it out. There are lots of machines! I did a trial run, got some instructions and bought a one month pass. It is for two hours. I can go every day for one month for 2,800 yen. I have gone six times and I feel more comfortable using the equipment. The results are also beginning to show. I feel a little stronger and maybe have slimmed down a little. I quit jogging one year ago so I hope to continue here for a long time.
 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bridge

We left home at 8:45AM to play bridge on Sunday as usual. We visited a new Center. This one is in KichiJouji. M set the location on her smart phone Navi. We used the KenOuDo highway for the first to go to bridge. It took just over an hour. It was quiet on the highway at this time in the morning. But it took a little time to find the locale and then to find a parking place. We met some familiar players and we also encountered some quite old faces, too.  There were nine teams. We sat out (didn't play/participate ) in the first three boards, or games. But then played 42 boards total in the AM and PM. This is a brand new Bridge Center. It opened this year. It has swivel chairs with casters. They have free coffee and tea. They gave us O-senbe and cookies at lunch time. That was all quite cool. Our bridge play was pretty good. I made a couple of boo-boos as did Miwako. And we also had some fine games. I had one in particular, so I was happy all day! The results? We came in third overall. We will try again next Sunday.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Puzzler Answers

I still have lots of free time today. I will go to the gym and...???...I don't know. Puzzle Answers: CLICK HERE.

And now, a new Super Scrabble Puzzle for your perusal. QU Words:

AQUA                       QUARTS                             EQUAL

So, what are those BLANKS? Can you guess them?  The answers are way down below.





 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
STRONG/SIEGE/EXTRAS    LUCRE   DEPEND
 
 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Puzzler HInts

Bridge again today. We have over 50 MPs now so we have to ty a lot harder. Puzzler Hints: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for April 2016 : words containing the letters “qu”

quiz queen question mosquito liquid quit quiet quite quality quantity quick require unique equipment square earthquake quarter quartet quintet mannequin squeeze quartz antique bouquet equator squirrel quack acquire inquire quest quote equation qualify acquaintance conquer plaque quarrel squall tequila quiche, etc.

“q”  の後に必ず ”u”  が来るのはなぜでしょう? それは英語の歴史に関係があります。古英語には”Q"という文字はありませんでした。
[kw]という音は-cw-と綴っていました。それが他言語の影響により-qu- と変化しました。そのため[kw]の音を含む単語はすべて”qu”が入っているのです。
 
Two Sundays ago we were late because of the traffic.
 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Puzzler

I have lots of free time now because the kindergartens are all off until April 15th. So, I joined the gym at Sun Arena, Okegawa and began working out. All the equipment is hi-tech! Puzzler: CLICK HERE.

HOME PROJECT for April 2016 : words containing the letters “qu”

quiz queen question mosquito liquid quit quiet quite quality quantity quick require unique equipment square earthquake quarter quartet quintet mannequin squeeze quartz antique bouquet equator squirrel quack acquire inquire quest quote equation qualify acquaintance conquer plaque quarrel squall tequila quiche, etc.

“q”  の後に必ず ”u”  が来るのはなぜでしょう? それは英語の歴史に関係があります。古英語には”Q"という文字はありませんでした。
[kw]という音は-cw-と綴っていました。それが他言語の影響により-qu- と変化しました。そのため[kw]の音を含む単語はすべて”qu”が入っているのです。
Getting tough but we got some MPs for the 3 on the right.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Minor Miracle

We got a call from the Matsubara Culture Club in Kawaguchi. They are looking for a part time Kindergarten after school teacher. They saw our home page. We advertise that we send teachers. They contacted us. I talked to them. I posted on the Internet for a teacher. I got one response. I talked to this guy on the phone. I met him last week Tuesday in Urawa. I went to Kawaguchi this Monday to meet the culture club people. I got a tour of two kindergartens. I then explained the RAM English Service system of teaching to kindergarten kids. They seemed impressed. They told me all about the current company that is in charge of their English lessons. It is a giant English Language company. My hope is to get our foot in the door (get in just a little) and then take over the whole operation from the mega company. The teacher came to my school for some training and advice Tuesday. The minor miracle is: This guy hire lives only 15 minutes by bicycle from the location! Wish us luck!