Monday, 3 April 2006

Last week

So apologies for the lack of posting last week, other than the brief message – all got a bit too much, as things are wont to do at times. Of course it didn’t help that my boss took three days off in what is arguably the busiest week of the year as it is the end of the academic year, new teachers arriving (the biggest intake of the year), spring schools before the regular teaching day begins and, though not his fault, the owner of the company still fecking about with 2006 budgets even though we are well and truly into the year. Enter stage right muggings here to try to keep all the plates spinning at the same time, whilst worrying about his son’s and wife’s health and getting a little bit antsy over dissertations.

But now it’s all over. Well, apart from the dissertation, which resolutely won’t go away until I have actually written the bloody thing, but at least I have 1800 words (of mostly, if total, crap) down which is, as is oft said, a start. [Not really sure why I used the word ‘oft’ there instead of a more sensible one...perhaps am developing a poetic steak (which would be odd as I have a very strong, profound but personal belief that poetry is, essentially, all shite)]. But no, the little ‘un and the Guru are now in much finer fettle than they were a week or so ago. Work has quietened down a little and the boss is back, so I don’t have to worry about stuff that he has to deal with. Unfortunately the owner of the company still owns the company and is an imbecile, oh well.

Hiding behind words

Anyway, this week I want to write about words in their spoken form. Actually that’s not strictly true, as I don’t believe that ‘words’ could really describe the noises that Marcus makes, though there may be one or two coming through. But here’s the point – how are you meant to know?

Now the little ‘un is quite the verbose type, apparently. Whilst at the community centre with he Guru he crawls around, plays with toys and generally enjoys himself, all the accompaniment of his own voice – something that the other kids there, especially the same age kids from the Guru’s pregnant pals group (not, of course, that they are pregnant anymore, but it sounds a lot better than her birthing buddies or mumma mates). All the other kids kind of get on with things without making too much noise, whilst Marcus keeps up a running commentary, just in case anyone is recording it for posterity. Kinki over at 35degrees recently wrote about the various noises her daughter makes, and there are similarities, though Marcus is now very much into compound noises such as “bababababaaaa” and ‘jyarjyarjyarjyar” and “shashashasha”. As you can see the whole consonant-vowel thing is very well developed

But what got me thinking was this. The other night he woke up about 3am, as he often does these days, for no good reason, it seems, other than let the world know. Except that he doesn’t really wake up, rather he stays in a pretty deep doze but manages to engage the bit of his brain that connects the stomach to the voice box and, sensing he could do with some milk, lets anyone close by know about it. So the Guru will wake up (as will I, I hasten to add), change his nappy and then give him some milk. But the other night, in between changing his nappy and giving him some milk she went to the toilet, so Marcus sat there and wailed and what came out could have been “mamamamamamaaaa” or it could have been “mama, mama, mama” as there did seem to be added stress on each odd syllable i.e. “Mama, Mama” etc

Of course he denies it completely and, when properly awake later would say only “bababababaaa”. Will keep you posted on this one, though I think “...and a pint for my dad” is a way off yet.

Exam hell

Japan is known as exam hell for some very good reasons, such as, there are too many, they are too hard, school doesn’t actually teach you anything useful in terms of knowledge to pass them and there are too many. But now there is another reason – very dodgy invigilators.

Two stories came up in recent weeks that made sitting an exam even worse than normal. One was in an exam at Tohoku university where a professor was invigilating – now I have never invigilated a proper, 2 or 3 hour exam but I reckon it must be pretty dull. This professor thought so he sat down and slowly nodded off. This wouldn’t have been too bad except that his snoring was such that he was asked to leave the hall as he was putting off the examinees. Nice work.

More recently, during the World Baseball Classis as described in an earlier post, a teacher at an elementary school got so wrapped up in the game during the lunch hour that when lesson started again in the afternoon he switched on the TV in his classroom so he could follow the action. The fact that he had set his students a test and they couldn’t concentrate obviously slipped his mind. Again what a plonker, but worse still in this case is the fact that the kids complained about not being able to do their exam, rather than sit and watch the game with the teacher. All going to grow up to be accountants, that lot, and serves them right too.

Last but not least, Saturday last was gloriously sunny and the peak of hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, so we, and the rest of Kawaguchi, went to the nishikoen (or east park) to drink some beer, eat something unhealthy and look at the onset of spring. Here are some snaps, there are a few more over at flikr.

Hanami at night
Kawaguchi hanami night #5

Nishi park
Kawaguchi hanami daytime #1

Hmm, hanami...
Kawaguchi hanami daytime #3 (Marcus in pensive mood)

People and trees
Kawaguchi hanami daytime #5

This is what the fuss is all about
Kawaguchi hanami daytime #6

Hanami hangover
hanami hangover...

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