Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Dirty Dancing" Movie

The other day I was thinking how much I miss dance classes. Today a soundtrack from "Dirty Dancing" was playing so I thought that I really want to watch the movie. I wonder if I can find the full version online.

This is the song I was listening to:

(I wanted to post a video from the movie, made by fans, but it will ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't watched it yet, so this video is better I guess. Sorry for such a bad video :P).

Oh, I just found the movie on youtube, I am going to watch it :D.

Consulate Trip

Tomorrow I have an appointment at the consulate about my passport application. I am missing some documents though, so unless a miracle happens and I get them in the mail by 8 AM (which is impossible anyway), I have to cancel my appointment. Guess I should email the consulate now... sigh... this sucks. Canada Post REALLY sucks. What's with their delivery times and prices? I am getting so spoiled by Japan Post, but things get where they should get, by the time they should get there, and the prices are reasonable. You don't have to pay $70 for sending one sheet of paper across the ocean in 4 days.

Anyways, I thought I'd complain, I can't believe how slow Canada Post is.

I am still going to Nagoya tomorrow though, I have other errands besides the consulate, and after I am done my errands I am doing something ^ ^l. So yeah. I am getting spoiled, living in Japan. Most of the time things just work the way you expect and the service people actually know really well what they are doing, as opposed to the minimum wage sales people in Canada who have no idea a lot of the time what they are doing.

Haha, sorry I am bitter. I was really hoping the documents get here faster... But I guess tomorrow will be a good day regardless, and my vacation is officially starting tomorrow, so I shouldn't be complaining.

*Goes off to email the consulate.*
I am hungry!!!
Sorry for a random post. I have a 10 minute break between classes and still 3 more lessons to go. Waaaahaaa,4 more hours before I get home and can eat dinner.
Oh well, the worst classes with my smallest students are over, so I'll be ok.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Unless you know what you are doing, I would not recommend mixing polymer clay, liquid polymer clay, and acrylics. It was fun mixing and the colors came out nice, but man, getting the thing out of my hands after took 20 minutes of scrubbing. I should probably get a solvent tomorrow too if I can explain in my broken Japanese what it is that I did to my hands.


Right now I am practicing kanji with Anki software. (I blogged about Anki before here, here, and here.) And I am amazed at how fast I have forgotten the kanji that I didn't practice. I guess even though I work with memory-related problems all the time, and I've read about how human memory works, I still did not realize just how fast we forget things unless we practice them.

I guess it's a good reminder for me that I should bring my laptop to class and do Anki practice with my students at every chance I get. Sometimes I forget, but this really shows how good it is to be consistent.

I started Anki with one of my junior high school classes, and because I found some funny pictures for them, I think they liked it.

I wonder if I can and will be allowed to integrate Anki in at least one of the classes that I'll do ALT work in from August. I really hope so, because I want to see how far a database would go in a year.

I have to think of the logistics of using Anki in a 30+ student setting though, as opposed to a private 1-on-1 lesson or a 6 students class. With group/class work there is a problem that some smart students will know everything, and the rest of the class won't know. I have some ideas, like group work for Anki (with competition between groups for motivation, maybe), or picking a random student to answer instead of letting the smart kids say everything. Anyways, I really need to think about this more.

~ Back to my own Anki practice, I've finally added my friends' names to Anki, so I can practice being able to write their names. Before only my kendo teachers' names were in Anki.

I still have some time before I have to leave for work. I wonder if I'll be able to finish my review. I need to practice piano tonight too. And tomorrow. And the day after. And speaking of the day after, it's a holiday, I think, so I wonder if there's kendo that day. I also wonder if my documents will arrive in the mail so that I can go to the Nagoya consulate. The people there are so helpful, but I don't want to have to re-schedule my appointment there if I don't get my documents. Grrr for Canada Post.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

^ ^


Musical Rose 2 by ~So-chan18 on deviantART

Teaching: Sketchbook

The walls in my living room are turning into a giant white-board sketch-book kind of workspace. Of course I don't write on the actual walls, I pasted some huge sheets of paper all over my closet doors (and I have a huge closet), and I write on those. I wish I had an actual white-board, like my brother does in his home-office, but then I guess a paper board thing has it's own benefits. I write ideas on sheets of paper and tape those to the master paper sheet thing, so if anything, I can move the stuff around and group it.
A computer would be nice for those ideas, but the screen is not big enough, and it helps having my ideas and reminders on what to do right there, in the living room, in bright colors. This way when I am eating dinner I can look at the stuff and maybe think more about some idea or other.

Ah, and I didn't mention what it is that I actually write on my walls... I've been trying to organize my research and teaching ideas, because I have so many, and I get those idea hyper energetic times when I come up with a lot of stuff. So I need to write that all down because I'll forget if I don't. And also, if I don't write my ideas down, there are too many in my head to have them in an organized manner. So when I have time to go read some ESL books etc. I don't know where to start because I have too many questions. This way, if I write my questions down and group them (e.g. under curriculum planning, or psychological problems in the classroom, or lesson themes, or natural language acquisition problems vs. classroom teaching, or the use of technology), then I can make sense of what I need to do more easily.

Anyways, it's a lot of fun writing on my walls, I just hope I have enough wall space, hehe. This totally reminds me of when I was little and mom and dad had paper pasted on our kids' bedroom walls, so that we can draw on the walls. Although me and my brother found ways to have a creativity outlet in a not-so-civilized way. We drew on the outer walls of our house too... with charcoal of all things... I am sure grandma wasn't thrilled. Neither were mom and dad, I am sure, but I don't remember them scolding us.

MAAAAAAAANNNNNN, I am really getting excited about thinking of all the teaching ideas right now, and it's past 1 AM. Geee.... I wonder how I am going to sleep now. I have work tomorrow morning, and then I am meeting a friend, and I'd prefer to be awake for that :P. So I need to go find some really boring book to read, something that will put me to sleep.

JET Resource Materials Handbook

I was looking for something on the JET website and came across this amazing book. It's a resource for working as an ALT in Japanese schools, and it has some really useful information, such on what to expect at school, or on classroom management, teaching ideas, etc. I wish I found this sooner, and I am so glad I found it before my vacation starts in a few days. I'll have time to read it.

I am getting so excited about August, just reading the handbook.

And on a totally different note, the first three things I am going to buy once I find out my placement (and move, if it's not Toyohashi) are a new bookshelf, a printer, and a piano stand.

Friday, April 24, 2009

4 Days

4 work days and then vacation!

We have an Easter party for the students on Sunday morning, and I have to teach on Monday and Tuesday (and today of course), but after that I have vacation until May 12th!

I can't wait. Although today would be fun though. I have 2 private lessons (as part of my current job, not on the side), so those I have to teach, but the rest of today's classes are going to be games, like the rest of the week has been. I hope there are UNO cards in my classroom today, so I can play with my junior high school kids.

I played so much balloon volleyball this week. The older kids are so good.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One Sharp, One Flat

I can't fall asleep right now for various reasons, so I wanted to write a translation for this song by Rozenbaum, my favourite musician, instead of wasting time on youtube. It's been a while since I translated any poems.

However, now I am running into so much trouble, because this song has many musical terms that I don't know in English. Or maybe I should say rather, that my English is very poor and I can't really translate this song.

So, um, I guess I am going back to counting sheep.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There you go, a new portion of randomness :D. I guess you guys who are reading this blog are already used to my randomness anyway, but be warned, more is coming your way, because these days I have no time to write properly edited posts.

~ I played balloon volleyball and badminton with my kids today. They are good, especially my junior high school students. I had the most fun with those guys... as always, haha. My 2 year old students on the other hand tired me out so fast, it's really energy-draining to teach them. I wish I didn't have to, and I am so glad I get to at least enjoy teaching my junior high school class.

~ I read so many emails today, and in Japanese too, that I am feeling very proud of myself. It's still taking me forever to read, especially long emails, because I think my friends are starting to get comfortable with my Japanese abilities and think I can read anything. I can't, but still I don't think they simplify their emails for me, it feels like they are just writing as they normally would, to their Japanese friends. So it's taking me a lot of copy-pasting to look up the new words, and also a lot of time to figure out what they mean. I am practicing this skill to confirm what people said. I remember studying that that's actually a therapeutical technique: if you get too emotional about arguing with someone, you have to slow down and to start confirming what the person is trying to say, and this will help you calm down and consider what the other person is saying more rationally. So there you go, if I end up fighting with any of my friends, I would hopefully be at an advantage compared to me before I came to Japan.

~ By the way, I think everyone who wants to grow up into a serious and mature person needs to go live abroad for a period of time... Or if you have no money, then maybe live in a place where you wouldn't normally live, maybe a neighbourhood that's culturally different from your own. It's amazing how much you get to learn by living in a foreign country. It's amazing how many things I got too comfortable with and took for granted in Canada.

~ Email etiquette here still baffles me. One of my friends always answers to everything that I mention in my emails, even if it's just a small half-sentence in passing. I thought he was just really nice (and he is really nice), but many people that I talk to do the same. I wonder if I come off as a pretty self-centered person in my own emails... I've been trying to be more considerate in my emails (haha, to my Japanese friends :P—sorry my Canadian friends, you wouldn't notice the difference, I didn't change my writing style when I write to you guys). I am still trying to figure out the norms... I sometimes wish there was this book I could go borrow from the library, something along the lines of "writing emails to your Japanese friends"... but then, even if there is such a book, it's probably pretty useless, and it's also meaningless to learn these things from a book. I have to learn through talking to my friends, and it's also more fun that way.
I can really see sometimes where some of the stereotypes about westerners and foreigners in general are coming from. I never realized how intricate some of these relationships between people, and social norms and rules are. It's like kendo, you really have to practice for a few years before it starts making sense... and you really have to lose many fights before you start winning. So living here, if you don't meet extra open minded people used to hanging around foreigners, then you will make mistakes and probably miss some chances to become friends with people because you do something stupid or don't understand them... but if you look at it as a learning process, then it's ok, and in the end you make some special friends.

Mom asked me when I came to visit Toronto in February, "Did you make any friends? I mean real friends". I said yes to her, and right now I want to say again, "yes mom, I did :D". I really have met some pretty special people, kind and considerate, and interesting to talk to, people who cheer me up if something happens, and who take time to hang out, and who teach me so many things. I am so happy that I came here. Sure it's stressful and tiresome sometimes. Sure I miss my parents, my friends, the UofT library with books in English, and I even miss Timmy's Ice Caps sometimes (although I will never miss Toronto weather), but I have been doing things here that I am happy about, things that are meaningful to me, and I think that as someone who wants to teach English, I can do a lot more right now living here than I could in Toronto. And I also think that in terms of people relationships and life in general I am learning so much more here than I did in Toronto. Academically I might not be learning as much at the moment, my studies are pretty fragmented, but non-academically I have learned so much.

~ I wasn't planning to write a praise-to-Japan post, hehe. Oh well... I was just talking to some of my friends here in Japan via email, and they said some really kind things to me, so I got too excited :P. Plus it's past midnight, and I always end up getting more emotional about things at night :D, so I got really emotional (in a happy way) about my stay here in Toyohashi :P.

Anyways, it's time for bed. I have so many emails to reply to tomorrow... :P

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Today's Lounge music night event was so much fun. I met some interesting people, and it was so good to see my friends.

I wish I wasn't so tired though, by the end of the day I could barely stay awake. And here I am, blogging instead of sleeping..... @_@

Sorry to my Toronto friends for not blogging more. I have so much to write about, but I am so tired these days from all the lesson planning, JET paperwork, and emails, that I don't have any energy left to blog.

Thank you though to all of you guys reading, and an extra thank you to those who wrote emails and comments. I really miss you guys! :D

OK, bed time! I can't stay awake any longer.

Friday, April 17, 2009



Thursday, April 16, 2009

(- -).......sleeeeeeeeepy


(_ _).......zzzzzZZZZZZ

Battery: 12%....
....please plug into the power outlet to charge.......


Man, these kids drain my energy sometimes.

Feeling Racist

I just realized I've been having pretty racist thoughts... Towards Americans. Sad eh. I guess I've met a fair share of... Well people, whose company I don't enjoy. But that's just bad luck, I am sure.

Anyways, I am totally brain-dead after teaching a bunch of 5-year olds. Soooooo sleepy but I have to teach 2 more classes.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Random Things from Today

~ It's raining buckets in Toyohashi today.

~ Canadian consulates in Japan don't seem to be into picking up the phone. They ask you to leave a message. So much for "emergency services" available. I left them a message today saying that I have a number of questions about passport renewal procedure, I wonder if they are going to call me back.

~ My baby class wasn't so horrible as the one last week. The little 2-year old crazy girl that I am forced to teach actually sat down through most of the lesson. Maybe in the next few months this class will get better...

~ Apparently it's not a standard procedure in Japan to request police checks for foreigners. As the police officers I went to see explained, it seems that I need to go speak with immigration, they can't do a police check for me because I am a foreigner. We were laughing so much today when one of them said, "you can probably get this record from the immigration, and check with your employer and the school board too, you might not even need this record, because basically if you committed any offenses, you would already be deported." True, isn't it. I guess since they have records on all the foreigners, this somewhat makes sense... I didn't have time to call immigration after talking to the police, so I'll be doing that tomorrow. Sigh... it's going to be interesting if there's nobody who can speak English there. Talking to the police in Japanese was ok because it was in person and I could use gestures if anything. Talking on the phone is more difficult. Well, I have to see what the JET coordinator in Toronto says anyway, hopefully she will reply to my email today. That's one nice thing about the time difference, I can do all my emailing late at night, and get a reply by morning.

~ I made a doctor's appointment for tomorrow. I hope they can do everything in one go. I also hope my health insurance covers at least some of the fee.

~ I wanted to eat out today, but I got soaked on the way home so I gave up on that idea.

~ Wow, I didn't use mixi for a long time. I posted something last night, but otherwise it's been a while since I blogged there or here... I can't believe lesson planning is keeping me this busy.

~ My first year junior high school kids had a kick out of making ID cards for imaginary characters (like Doraemon), I guess that's because I let them draw the mug shots too :P. I didn't think they'd enjoy it, but I am happy they did.

~ I taught them some crazy vocabulary last week, like "health insurance card", because we were talking about ID cards and stuff, and guess what. One of them actually remembered it today. I was quite shocked.

~ I should put more pictures into my Anki vocabulary file for these guys. It's pretty boring now with just the Japanese translation. Actually, I'll go do that now.

~ Oh, and this reminds me, I have to go to an internet cafe and print out my damn tax declaration. I still can not believe how stupid CRA is. But I guess I have to print out stuff for the JET documents too... so I have to go find a printer anyway. Once I know my placement, if I don't have to move then I am going to buy myself a printer. It sucks not having a printer in the house.


Wow, looks like I might be stuck doing paperwork all of this week and the next.

I have to get a physical (with an x-ray), a police check, and renew my passport (great...). All of this has to be done by April 24th. I am really not looking forward to the last bit, I have to go to Nagoya for that I think. I guess I need to call the consulate tomorrow, because it seems that I might need to follow the full application procedures (the simplified renewal process seems not to be applicable for people living abroad). Which means I need to have a guarantor. I have no idea how I am going to get that done in 10 days, from Japan. Japanese passport photo size is different too, so I have to go find a photo studio. But I guess for now I should wait for the reply from the Japanese consulate about my visa and passport questions. Maybe they'll tell me I can renew my passport next year? (Yeah, right, I think I will have to do that myself, and now).

I am happy I got in! でもさ、passport reapplicationはね、めんどくさい。めっちゃめんどくさい。It's still valid until July 2010... But I guess they won't be able to issue a visa it seems if my passport is not valid until September. Well, I'll have to do this sooner or later... so I'll be on the phone with the consulate in Nagoya tomorrow morning it seems.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Hehe, I actually got the letter in the mail a bit after I posted the previous post!


The JET interview results have been mailed out, according the Consulate General in Toronto website. I know from "I Think I am Lost" forums that the Calgary guys have already received their letters in the mail, but seems that Toronto people still haven't heard anything yet. It's Easter Monday today too, so they won't get any mail today either. Not that I should go check the I Think I am Lost forums anyway, since I'll be getting my letter on a different date. I wish the consulate posted what day they sent the letters out. No, correct that to, I wish I am crazy busy at work and at home today and tomorrow so I don't think about the letter... because I am already getting super excited and worried at the same time.

If I don't receive anything by this Wednesday, I have to let the consulate know. I listed my Japanese address on the form because if I do get accepted, I need the documents they mail me. So I have to wait a bit longer than everyone else, but then given that Canada post is super slow, and Japan Post is super fast, I won't have to wait much longer, I don't think.

Anyways, the latest I have to wait till is Thursday, I think, because if I don't get any mail by Wednesday, I'll email the consulate and they will most likely tell me the interview results. So a few more days. I am glad I went and randomly checked the consulate website.

*Guess who'll be checking her mailbox 5 times a day, and listening to the postman's scooter*

(Picture taken from here.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009


***ing CRA (Canadian Revenue Agency)... Pardon my French. I have to paper-mail my tax return because I did not reside in Canada on New Year's Eve. How ridiculous is this? Are we in the freaking 19th century? I knew they don't give a crap about wasting trees, paper, and people's time, but this is just very stupid in my opinion, given that the engine for submitting electronic tax returns exists. How much of these tax money will go to pay for someone to manually process these returns that come from overseas? Wouldn't it make more sense especially for non-residents to NETFILE their tax return? Beats me. And I am not even going to start on how slow CRA is at correcting their own mistakes.

If anyone knows a way around mailing this return, please share.

I have to sign the damn papers too, so I can't ask my parents to print and mail the thing for me. I guess I should be grateful they don't ask for my fingerprints and a mug shot...


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Across the Ocean

I was doing my taxes and needed a quote of how far my Canadian residence is from my Japanese residence, so I went on google maps. The fastest way to find out that I know was to get directions between the two locations. I remember from before that if you get directions for two locations that are across the ocean from each other, Google Maps suggested that you swim across the ocean. Well, they changed that suggestion a bit. Take a look at item 30 on the picture below ;).
(You might want to click on the picture to get a full view.)

Friday, April 3, 2009


This song was just playing in my iTunes, so I thought I'd share. I never posted it on my blog before.

It's called "Aicha", and it's by Khaled. I don't remember how I came across this song, I think I either got it from a friend or found it online accidentally.

Anyways, enjoy.

...Can you understand the lyrics? I can understand a few words in the chorus, but that's about it. I didn't study French very hard back in the day... I wish I studied harder. Of course I can't understand any of the Arabic at all in this song either.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Katya is...

...writing a curriculum for her junior high school (JHS) classes, because the old method didn't work with them;

...eating orange bell-peppers (mom and dad would be shocked when they read this, I have quite a reputation for refusing to eat those). They actually taste decent if cut into tiny pieces and cooked for a long time in pasta sauce, they loose their peppery flavour that I so dislike;

...practicing the piano more regularly than before (I do want to learn the Alkesandra song by the 19th, even if I decide not to play it);

...enjoying the lighter schedule at work;

...but dreading the ******* baby class... geh, I hate teaching 2-year old babies, it's too much;

...wondering when it will get warmer;



...wanting to go visit Anton and Rie in Osaka;

...wondering how her friends from Canada are doing;

...going to karaoke more often;

...enjoying the company of her new friends, and old ones too (やっぱり、何も言わなくてよかったね。二人いい友達できたもん。その友達はよく笑わせてくれた。)

...counting days till it's time for the trip to the ocean;

...anxious about tomorrow's JHS class and the new elementary school students class;

...being too lazy and/or busy to read her friends' blogs;

...not posting on mixi or replying to emails these days (sorry, too busy right now :P);

...enjoying BBC's "Business Daily" podcast more and more with every day (even though I don't know what I do if I hear another "boom turned to bust" phrase, they repeat it in every second podcast).

...thinking that it's about time to return to lesson planning and stop procrastinating.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The River in Bloom and Gouache

The past few days everywhere I look I see all shades of pink. The river next to my house is especially beautiful. I am not sure if all of these flowers are sakura or not, but to me it doesn't really matter what these trees are, I only care that it's really beautiful outside.

For a long time I had this idea for a scene for the story that I am writing, and today I thought it out on the way home and had to put it down on paper. Not in words though, but as a sketch. I rarely venture to touch colors, even though I own a beautiful set of colored pencils (thank you Steph!) and gouache (I got it so I can work with clay). It's just.. well, it's just difficult to work with colors, and I can never get it the way I want, and I give up really easily. This time though I was pretty determined to try out the colors. Back in art school I hated watercolors because they are so tricky, and because they are translucent, so blending is very difficult, and mistakes are hard to fix. I loved gouache though, and today I enjoyed myself so much, experimenting. Mixing colors for gouache is a lot like mixing colors for clay, and fixing mistakes is easier too. Once again I thought that art is at least 80% about conscientiousness (a.k.a. working until your brain explodes). Of course you have to be able to visualize what you want to draw, but practice, not talent is what helps you make your hands obey and create what you see in your mind. I think same goes for music, creative writing, mathematics, and many other areas that some people are reigned by gifted people. Gifted people, I think, are people who can find enough inspiration to sit for hours and putting small dots on paper, or grating clay, or writing and scrapping drafts, etc.

Anyways, I am nowhere near being finished, this is going to take a long time, but I am going to keep drawing/painting. I am also going to stop worrying about making good copies, and instead make as many sketches as I can. It's not like I am making a portfolio here, I need sketches for my story-board, so that I have more inspiration and visualization to write.

And speaking of writing, I am going to try and get some writing down tonight.

April 1st

If you read this post on April 1st, go check out youtube and Tokyo Toshokan websites. It's kind of funny what they did (except that I can't find anything on Tokyo Toshokan, geh, I hope they change it back soon).

I wonder what other big websites do something for April 1st.

And speaking of websites, Facebook is getting more and more annoying by the day. It feels that it's getting bogged down with useless junk applications and features, so much so that every time I open that web page (which is not often these days), I wonder, why did I bother?

New iPod Shuffle

So I just watched the video for the new iPod shuffle and was very unimpressed. I love Apple (as most people reading this blog would know), but they are making such a big deal out of this new voice-over feature (it reads out song names, playlists and musicians to you). After having used iPod shuffle for a bit, and then switching to an iPhone, iPod shuffle is really unimpressive, I think. Although it's better than the piece of junk mp3 player that I used to own, the one that kept breaking down until it died completely... but still, it feels like Apple could do so much better.