Posts Tagged ‘Seattle’

Full of Myself

2010年 10月 6日

Still in process of cleaning house, so I came across this one while purging documentation from the school board. As an aside: man is there ever a lot of unnecessary paperwork from the school board. They send us forms each March, letting us know we have been tentatively selected for work in April. Around the same time, they also send us example contracts in English and Japanese, because we usually don’t get our actual contracts until we’ve been working for about a month. Also, we get the same stack of hundreds of example lesson plans once or twice a year. Ironically, they fail to send us deposit notifications or tax information on any regular basis.

Anyhow, the first time I applied for a school board job, I was required to write an essay about a page long. I stumbled across it yesterday while cleaning. I was really torn while writing because I didn’t know who would be reading it. Should I write at primary level, so even a manager who hardly understands English can understand? Or, is a native speaker reading them to evaluate candidates’ abilities? I opted to use a variety of vocabulary (which can be looked up), and not overly complex sentence structure. For topic, I explained why I would want to teach, and specifically, why in Japan. I managed to slip in a plug or two about my abilities as well. I think it sounds a little stuffed shirt-ish. What do you think?

Many paths of development in my life have converged to create a desire to be an instructor in Japan. Realizing the power of knowledge and reason to aid in hurdling personal obstacles and larger conflicts prompts me to always be learning. Awareness of my connection to others fuels interest in teaching. Strong love for, and curiosity about, Japan and its ways drove me to choose this location.

Since childhood I have faced numerous challenges in life: some small and some large. Meeting these challenges successfully always required knowledge. Knowledge required to face challenges is more than just raw data and facts. Learning how information is applied and how to combine areas of study is critical in synthesizing solutions to greater problems. I consider myself fortunate to have had parents who supported the learning process. This provided me with the tools to protect myself and improve my situation.

None of us are individuals on this planet. Naturally, each person might have individual pursuits or interests; however, it is destructive for us to forget that we are all part of a greater whole. To deny this would be to forget all of the people who aided me in getting where I am today. This compels me to move beyond the selfishness of seeking only personal improvement. Providing assistance to my fellow man strengthens my bond to the world, while simultaneously improving the place in which I live. Teaching others provides benefit for both the student and the teacher: it is a role I enjoy.

Growing up in the Seattle area, sister city to Kobe since 1962 (sic), I was exposed to many traditional aspects of Japan: gardens, art, festivals, and such. This instilled a sense of the romantic character of the country. After college I had the opportunity to travel to Japan for business; coming 11 times between 1989 and 1992. With each trip I had more experiences which increased my interest until I accepted an assignment to live in Japan. Unfortunate business difficulties caused the cancellation of my relocation, but could not quench my desire.

That desire was satisfied in 2004 when I came to Japan to teach for Pacific Rainbow. Developing schedules, lessons, and curriculum for a range of students from 1 year old to 90 years old has allowed me to interact in Japanese society and learn about the people. Also, I have been able to pursue language study and calligraphy actively; and history and culture casually.

Living in Japan is challenging, yet rewarding. Teaching also, is challenging, yet rewarding. My hope is to continue on the path of being an instructor in Japan. To face these challenges and receive the rewarding experiences would bring me happiness.

After years of seeing the underbelly of the beast, I would take a wager that nobody ever read it. Immediately after sending it, I noticed the phrase ‘drove me to chose’, which I have corrected here. Also, today I noticed the date of 1962 for the Seattle-Kobe sister city relationship, which is a mistake. The sister city relationship started in 1957. In 1962 Kobe sent the friendship bell to Seattle for the Worlds Fair.

Every So Often…

2010年 9月 4日

Every so often, Mount Ranier shows it’s face; and on a rare occasion, it is completely exposed for our enjoyment. Reportedly about 120 days a year are sunny in Seattle and about 90 days a year Ranier is visible. When I took my parents-in-law to visit in August about 6 of 9 days gave us views like this. This was shot from a cruise on Elliott Bay with the Port of Seattle in the foreground and nothing but Ranier in all its glory in the background. Note the tremendous glaciers and snow pack in August, which are at all time record levels.Mount Ranier

Tall Cool One

2010年 9月 3日

Demands on my time are high, but I am back in Japan, so it’s time to get posting. Summer this year was filled with activity and travel, so I have a lot of photographs to post as well. Parents Needle (straight)Recently I have been spending a little time learning about how to use GIMP (like Photoshop, but cheaper) as well, so I can trim and repair and adjust the photos a bit.

The second trip was to Seattle. My wife could not join us, so I took my parents-in-law on their first trip to my hometown. We arrived to the announcement that the weather was 12 degrees Celsius. I was sure the Japanese attendant had made a translating error since 20 degrees is just a transposition in Japanese and it certainly couldn’t be that cold. Well, the staff was accurate… it was cold. Fortunately it warmed up and we had beautiful weather the whole trip. A couple mornings had clouds and rain, but otherwise we were ecstatic.

One evening I took my parents along and all five of us enjoyed the Sky City restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. Certainly I have had better food and the prices are a bit high; however, the food was quite good and I was happy to pay for the view and the experience. King crab legs, salmon, seafood pasta, steak, and vegetable gateau were our selections. Everyone seemed pleased. We also ordered some Beecher’s cheese wrapped in prosciutto for an appetizer and sampled the wine. At the end of the meal we had chocolate cake and cobbler with ice cream.

We could clearly see all the way to Canada and Oregon, making it one of the best days of the year and our reservation included sunset.

Today’s photo is a composite of two photos made with some additional software I have been trying out.

Correction: This photo is a composite of three photos made with software from ArcSoft, but first I rotated all the images in GIMP so the tower would not appear bent. See the first attempt here.

When You Know Too Many

2009年 8月 31日

Some experts tell us that nobody, no matter how sharp, can maintain more than 150 relationships. My phone has well over 200 names registered and, let me tell you, I have trouble keeping up with them, let alone my relations and contacts in Seattle, Houston, and other points around the globe. Friday I got a lesson in confusion when someone called with a business opportunity.

One friend threw a curveball when she got married and changed her name (just one more piece of data to remember) to top it off she has a very common given name (the same as a bride of one of the Beatles). My phone rang while spending time with family, so I only gave the readout a cursory glance as I picked up the call prepared to do a 5-second, “call you back” type call. She mentioned who she was and where I met her, but I had more recently met someone else with the same interests and the same name at the same place.

Sunday night I called back to get the details and as we were talking it dawned on me who I was actually communicating with. Not completely embarrassing, but maybe a close second. Fortunately, I can still blame my head being slammed into pavement and overwhelming consultations with the doctors and insurance agents for any lapses.

On the lighter side, I am off to the optometrist again for my second check-up. Hopefully they’ll let me order some glasses so I can get back to studying.

Swelling Library

2009年 8月 27日

While I am supposed to be getting the apartment in order for my girlfriend who likes things tidy, books have been accumulating in the Bikkuri library.

Charles Dickens and G. K. Chesterton found their way in because one friend needed to lighten his international shipping costs for his move home. I’ve never read “Great Expectations”, so I look forward to that, and having never read any Chesterton, perhaps “Father Brown Stories” will be a new experience.

Stopping by the teachers’ supply on my Seattle trip saw me Suessing up. New additions include: “The Cat in the Hat”, “Hop on Pop”, “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish”, and “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut”. Also, Eric Carle’s works are very popular here, so I couldn’t resist “Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?”: a new – and more advanced – take on the “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” classic.

One last book of mine was still in Seattle and “Escher: His Life and Complete Works” finally came home with me. A childhood favorite, “Little Toot” also appeared in my luggage.

Yesterday a friend loaned me two Japanese books: one with fine details of visits to the main shrine in Ise and another with details of sightseeing walks around Mie prefecture.

From Land of WA to Land of Wa

2009年 8月 21日

My sweetie and I are both safely back in the Land of Wa (Japan) after our week and a half flurry through the Land of WA (Washington State). She was so excited to meet my family and be fully accepted by them. Before the trip, I said one fear was that she would want to move after visiting. She would laugh each time, but halfway through the trip she said, “I can see why you said that.” Now she is constantly talking about going back, but practically she won’t be able to visit for a long time. Perhaps I should be sending out resumes now…

Points that impressed her about Seattle and Western Washington were:

  • Although there were big buildings and large houses and wide streets, there was serious greenery everywhere which gave a more naturaly feeling.
  • Seattle is about the same size as Nagoya, but the traffic was always moving and people seemed very relaxed. Urgency is at least a few keys down on the scale.
  • Many things she likes are available at Bellevue Square. (She quickly fell in love with Red Mango.)
  • Everyday the air felt comfortable and clean.
  • While many types of trees are the similar to Japan, the scale is completely different.

We were amazed by how many things came up to threaten the trip or our happiness, but remain convinced that God loves us as everything was laid low before us. Wednesday we checked in for our strange routing through YVR and NRT on our way to NGO and the agent neglected to check our bags all the way through. When we got to the gate the Vancouver flight was delayed, which might cause panic, but we went shopping for Godiva instead. Upon returning to the gate they asked if we were Hammond/Sakamoto – I guess we stand out – and they offered to send us directly to Narita because they were afraid for us. This gave us more time to relax in Seattle and Narita together, but didn’t get us home any sooner.

We stopped in Tsu to eat all manner of vegetables with her parents and give them many gifts and stories before driving back to Ise, where we got another big surprise: our genkan was all wet. A couple hours hence, someone will be tearing the ceiling out to find out where the water is coming from, but hopefully the landlord is in the mood to replace some flooring, wallpaper, and ceiling tiles. We’ve got buckets out, but I didn’t let this get in the way of sleeping enough hours to be jet lag free in a day.

Now that I’m back, I’ll be updating more frequently. Also, my joyful visit to the plastic surgeon is making me feel less Van Gogh-like and more creative: wait, is that contradictory?

Travel Approved

2009年 7月 14日

Yesterday I got a big surprise: apparently in January, our government decided to change the way they treat member nations of the Visa Waiver Program. My darling needed to apply electronically for permission to travel using the new ESTA system.

50 percent of the application area was dedicated to checking the status of applications, leading me to believe there might be significant time required to process. With less than a month left I got a little nervous, but remembered my Philippians 4 and stayed calm.

Today we filled out the form together and approval came back instantly. At first I misunderstood and thought it was explaining the process of receiving approval. Of course, this is only approval to travel to the customs desk, at which point a visa will have to be granted as usual.

One step closer to the big trip!

Happy Birthday Dad

2009年 6月 7日

I can’t access the phone at a reasonable hour in Seattle, so I’ll just post some good wishes here. Also, as usual, I won’t post his age, but he was born before The Magic Carpet issue containing Pearls from Macao was published.

Also, some newsy stuff. When I was leaving the apartment to come to the internet cafe, a man in a car eagerly waved me down and told me he was a friend of a friend. When I questioned him about his identity, he said he was the building owner. What are the odds? My previous landlord was also connected to me. I feel a bit safer now.

Met my future in-laws’ former neighbors from their hometown. One set seemed guardedly polite, the others were bubbling over with happy manners. I think I will have to stop in on them when I’m in town.

Approximately two months til departure for the Seattle trip. Excited, nervous, and unprepared.

Narrowing in on the Target

2009年 3月 5日

Japanese tradition involves meeting the family of one’s beloved before getting married. My sweetheart lives at her job 24/7 and usually can’t take more than two or three days off in a row. Living on the other side of an ocean from my family is giving us some logistical twists.

The boss at the top of the ladder, is excited for her and gave her permission to take an extended leave for this purpose. Have you worked in an organization more than a few layers deep? If so, you can grasp the concept that, one’s direct superior might lay down a few more restrictions. For example, with staff turnovers at the end of March, she will be expected to do a lot of training and cover for a lot during this time.

We had hoped to make the trip at the end of July and beginning of August to get back before the O-Bon (御盆) holidays. Details of why this was best for my girlfriend and her charges escape my sleep-deprived brain at the moment; regardless, her immediate boss had a different idea. Officially, I was given the parameters of planning a trip exactly 11 days long (including travel time) which sandwiches August 13, 14, 15. I’ll be spending a few hours tomorrow checking flights for all the options: Aug 7 to Aug 17; Aug 12 to Aug 22; and anything in between.

Soon we can start planning the finer details and figuring out how to introduce her properly to a few hundred relatives and a thousand acquaintances. Also, I hope to show her some Washington beauty and sample some hard-to-find-in-Japan consumables.

  • Snoqualmie Falls
  • San Juan Islands
  • Victoria, B.C.
  • Ferry boats
  • Space Needle
  • Sourdough bread
  • Baked salmon
  • Neapolitan pizza
  • Texas BBQ brisket

She is convinced that I want to turn her into a little piggy. I assured her that nothing could be farther from the truth, but if it happens, I’ll love her just the same. Any other ideas for places to see or things to eat in Washington?

Praying Through Travel

2009年 1月 7日

Well, I’m back at full speed in Japan; but, it couldn’t happen without a little prayer. My friends and their kids are moving from Japan to Brazil, but have been spending some time visiting relatives in the Tacoma area (south of Seattle) before heading on. Peculiar logistics kept us from meeting in the middle of my trip, leaving us with only the option of them coming to see me off at the airport. We caught up over coffee and sandwiches after I had checked in. Upon realizing an urgent need, as I was leaving for the gate, the husband asked to pray for me. Never one to turn down prayer, I put the departure time out of my mind for a short while.

From the time I left them, until I arrived home, there was a string of odd, interfering events; however, I stayed calm and just kept stringing together critical connections. Odd, you ask?

Woman at security repeatedly asking where to get a wheelchair and agent calmly chatting with her about options chewed up five minutes… boarded flight to Tokyo about two minutes before closing the door to push back from gate. Strange, meandering flight path got us into Tokyo/Narita late. Flight attendant announced that anyone on our plane making the connection to Nagoya/Chubu should go directly to gate 18. Secondary security check had no line, instead of the hundreds that are usually filing through: boarded Chubu flight with a good five minutes to spare. Pushed back, taxied to runway, found fuel leak, returned to terminal for inspection and repairs. Arrived at Chubu customs about the same time as the last boat to Tsu was leaving. All five of my overweight bags appeared on the carousel just before I arrived at baggage claim. Dropped four bags at parcel delivery to avoid hauling 400 pounds of junk around. Walked to Meitetsu train station, bought ticket to Nagoya station, heard clerk say, “train leaves in 1 minute.” Ran onto train, rode to Nagoya, ran to Kintetsu train station and caught last train to Tsu with about three minutes to spare. Arrived late expecting no taxis, but managed to catch the second to last one.

Update: I almost forgot about the weirdness at the coffee shop. We had to bus our table, then when we got to the front of the line we stepped to the side to choose sandwiches and lost our place in line. Halfway through our discussion a worker came over to tell us that they forgot to charge us for two drinks. I’m thinking all of these troubles were necessary to set-up the need to stay calm and trust in God.

I was fascinated by the string of delays and skin-of-the-teeth connections that were strung together like a pretty necklace. I even found time to stop and help some other folks along the way. I highly recommend having friends see you off with prayer.

While this was all going on, I kept thinking of my friend who was being hunted by angels wanting to help get her out of the Bangkok airport the day of the takeover.