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About Wobbegong

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  • Birthday April 17


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    home with the 'rents


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  1. Wobbegong Conquers the Sakamichi

  2. Wobbegong Conquers the Sakamichi

    So all of the teachers at the school I was at today did this and I felt kind of awkward about not having a toothbrush, like maybe they were judging me for having an unhygienic mouth, but like... tell me these things in advance?? I am still fuming over not being told how many schools I would teach at in advance. I purchased a pair of shoes for in-school use but since I'm at a different school nearly every day I have to carry them around with me to and from every time! What a pain! Every school has designated shoe locker space to me and I can only use it for eight hours a week because I don't have enough shoes?! Yussss please enjoy my life I hope it is entertaining. I am being super thoroughly entertained over here. Story time. Today I was working with my favorite teacher and before the class she asked if I would be ok role-playing as her husband for a short dialogue related to the grammar exercise we were doing. I assured her I was fine with being a man for a few minutes, but she remained somewhat concerned. In Japan, gender roles can be pretty strict, but we didn't have time for me to explain that where I grew up and in my friend group gender fluidity was pretty normal, and I've definitely acted both as a friend's boyfriend and as a friend's girlfriend (gay) publicly before for one reason or another. Anyway, it was 100% fine with me but she seemed a little edgy. So we get to class and the time comes for the role play, and since I'm her husband Bob of course I adopt a baritone for the purposes of authenticity. Midway through I have the line, "Hi honey, I'm home." (Literally my exact words.) Which I say after walking across the classroom to "come home" from the "park." Something about my delivery was just way too much for her and in the middle of class she doubled over laughing, which of course set the whole class off and me as well. I don't know if it was that line in particular because I was suddenly standing right next to her, or because I was unconsciously adjusting louder because I had been behind the class and had moved to the front, which put me farther from the students, or the ridiculousness of the line (probably not that) or what, but she could not handle it. Later, she told me, "You just seem so quiet! I wasn't expecting you to get so into it!" Which is... fair I guess, because there are several things I'm shy about, but role-playing as a man for educational purposes is not one of them. Anyway, it was funny enough at the time, but then later somehow the teachers in the lounge got onto the topic of surprising things that happen at school (we started with a student who came into the teachers lounge, saw a very nice teacher the student was inexplicably afraid of, and burst into tears) and my teacher friend recounted the whole thing. I was asked to demonstrate because of course I was and AGAIN everyone was in stitches. Tell me true, is my false baritone really bad?! (It probably is really bad lol but tbh a large part of the point of getting into character in class is to help students feel less nervous about talking. If I can look ridiculous, it's not so bad if they also look ridiculous.) It is great! But today at dinner I ran into my landlord and mistook him for a local hotel owner (they are both older Japanese gentlemen who like to speak to me in English, the only two in town) which was slightly awkward for me (not him, he just said "what" and I said "excuse me sorry" and we kept talking like nothing had happened) UNTIL AFTER DINNER I WENT TO THE DRUGSTORE AND RAN INTO THE HOTEL OWNER. WHAT. Small towns, man. The hotel owner was delighted to see me again and helped me pick out the appropriate bug spray to kill anything that might visit my home. I also picked up some mosquito-repelling panels that I am to hang near my doors. I sincerely hope they work because every time I make it through the night without a mosquito waking me up buzzing in my ear feels like a final victory and then usually the next day I find another mosquito and kill it and wonder where the other two are. (They always enter my apartment in threes it's terrifying.) If anyone has any suggestions for how to keep mosquitos from entering in the first place that don't involve yeast or screens, I'm all ears. (Yeast because I would have to order it online and I don't want to deal with sorting through yeast options in Japanese and screens because I have them already, the mosquitos hang out on them and when I open them to pass through they come in.)
  3. Wobbegong Conquers the Sakamichi

    We have both crows and ravens where I used to live, since it was on the edge of suburban and rural, and in my experience ravens have a head crest, are shaggier than Japanese crows, and do not flock (they hang out with one or two buddies at a time, not 5-30). The Common Raven at home was also significantly larger than the Japanese crow, which is noticeably larger than the American crow but still nowhere near the size of a raven. As it turns out, there is a word in Japanese for raven as distinct from crow (watarigarasu, as opposed to just karasu, which is crow) which indicates to me that both also exist in Japan. HOWEVER, in my experience Japanese people are extraordinarily bad at animal identification (someone once asked me if penguins were fish, and despite bats being common no one appears to recognize one when they see it), so it could well be that watarigarasu is just a formal word for raven and karasu, which can mean crow or raven, is usually translated as crow but actually describes ravens. Since crows and ravens are fairly closely related, as birds go (also jays), it is also possible that the Japanese crow is evolutionarily somewhere between the Common Crow and Common Raven of the US. I would like to state for the record that I am not an expert on birds and everything I write here about them is knowledge gained through personal experience and is therefore anecdotal evidence. (Except that time when I complained that the turkeys are non-native and ruining my local ecosystem. That information came from research and is established and demonstrable fact.) Uh ok I have to say that Italian crow looks like it would barley qualify for the title but given how tiny it looks I can see why you would've been startled when you moved. But also yeah the variation among crows around the world is really impressive, so again, there are lots of things the Japanese crow could be. Also also, their raucous cries sound a lot like seagulls, so maybe there's a benefit to that type of squawk in watery areas? And maybe the Japanese crow, an island bird, learned to be obnoxious because it's better for communicating over the sound of the ocean? (Were Darwin's finches also loud? Someone find out.)
  4. The Rebel Guild's Spring Cleaning Spree

    Yeah but you know how that saying really ends, right? Jack of all trades, master of none But better than a master of one I feel this with all my heart
  5. Wobbegong Conquers the Sakamichi

    Today was my last first day! The teachers at my Monday elementary school are very gracious and helpfully came and got me and said "my students are doing PE, please come watch" instead of "walk around the school and help where you're needed" like at the other school. Srsly how am I supposed to know?? There was a point in the morning before I was whisked off to phys ed when someone in the teachers' lounge suggested I take a tour of the school by myself if I had nothing to do. I think she was implying I should be more useful, but again, how the heck do I know when I'm needed? My only skill is speaking English, and most students aren't studying it. I went ahead and went on the tour, and was very interested to discover that the entire third floor of the school is dedicated to advanced art projects. Like clay throwing, large-scale basket weaving, and sculptures made of metal and wood. I have no idea if the kids made all that stuff or if it's just being stored there for some reason, but it is added to my list of things that are totally normal in Japanese schools and would be pretty much unthinkable in their US counterparts. (In this case, because many parents would not be ok with elementary-aged students handling metal- or wood-cutting tools -- although I suppose it's possible that a teacher managed that part.) Also on the list is unicycle riding without helmets or supervision, which is a popular break time activity. Also having three pairs of shoes for a single day of school (one to walk there and back in, one to wear inside, and one to wear for PE). ANYWAY. I'm really glad that I'm finally done with self introductions (until next year) and that I kind of have a feel for how the work day goes. I had nothing to do at school in the afternoon today, since all my classes were in the morning, but someone gave me the school magazine so I translated a "scary story" about Yokai for practice. One of the words I learned through this exercise, "a few years ago," was immediately useful in a conversation I had with one of the teachers about the drought in California. Also all of the teachers laughed at me for picking the Yokai story but when I said I like Yokai they all became serious and said "That's really good, thank you, please continue." Is there a local curse I should know about? While I was watching PE today, which was a mixed group of 6th and 4th grade students, a tiny little girl climbed up the steps to me, said "Hello, nice to meet you" with perfect diction, stuck her hand out to shake, and then turned and climbed back down without another word. Her handshake was terrible but I am prepared to forgive that in the face of her courage overall. (Literally everyone I have shaken hands with here has a limp noodle shake. In general hand shaking isn't done here so I think people just don't understand how it's supposed to work.) Of course, I won't see any of them again until May 7 since next Monday is a holiday (Golden Week! Whaaaat!) so by then they'll probably have forgotten me again, but no matter. I actually see this school the least, since there are so many holiday Mondays: a total of 33 times in a year. Not quite one day in ten. So my expectations for them to get to know me are pretty low. The other elementary school has the next-fewest meetings with me, 39 total in a year (probably by design). It's kind of unfortunate that I like the Atagawa teachers better and see them less frequently, but I have some great students in Inatori and I think I'll warm up to the teachers (and them to me) as I get more into the swing of things. Here's hoping, anyway.
  6. Wobbegong Conquers the Sakamichi

    It was very sunny! It's been raining on and off all week so the sunny weekend was really refreshing. (It was actually too hot on Sunday and I was really pleased that at the top of the plateau the wind was really strong so it was very cool up there.) I love the rain too, of course, but I forget that it does sort of have a downing effect on me... Not only are the crows enormous, they talk funny. I've been waiting to tell someone about these crows. The crows where I lived in the States said "Caw! Caw!" This is, I think, pretty normal for US crows. The crows here, however, say "BWAH! BWAH, BWAARK!!" They are way louder than the crows at home (this was difficult for me to wrap my head around when I arrived because the crows at home like to sit fifty to a tree and cackle, but seriously these crows are LOUD) and they sound like crows imitating people imitating crows. Or like a mix between a crow and a seagull and a really unhappy duck.
  7. The Juice Bar

    We're going to need to make sure this Juice Bar has lots of corners for hiding... maybe a maze of potted plants, too, so the whole thing doesn't seem too open...
  8. Wobbegong Conquers the Sakamichi

    Today I hiked Hosono Plateau and I'm a little surprised by a few things: 1. Hosono Plateau looks a LOT like my local mountain in terms of flora and general landscape 2. My feet hurt so much??? It was only a 10km round trip??? 3. Every other part of my body feels amazing I'm so glad I dragged myself out of the house for this (I almost took a nap instead, can you believe it) 4. There was a moment when I was climbing when I suddenly felt a lot of my stress fall away. I hadn't noticed I was carrying so much stress, but clearly I need to be more careful about seeking out nature in the future 5. Hosono Plateau is NOT the high spot I thought it was but still beautiful (no outlook over the town, though) After taking a bunch of pictures, I decided I'll finally get an instagram so I can conveniently share them with people here. So expect that at some point in the near-ish future. I met some kind of lizard or newt or salamander type creature that was at first very frightened by me but eventually came out and posed for pictures. It even showed me the inside of its mouth but I wasn't prepared so no picture of that. On the way back, I found a headless snake, and snapped a picture so I can look it up and learn more about it. No one has mentioned snakes on the list of local dangers so I assume it isn't venomous, whatever it is, but I'd still like to know. (I have no idea how it lost its head but I assume either by cat or by car. The number of stray cats wandering around here is truly preposterous.) I also somehow managed to break my laundry hanger thing (the magic rectangle form with all the clips hanging off it) so now the clip part keeps falling off the hook if I put too much weight on it. Of course, wet laundry is fairly heavy, so this represents something of a problem... For now, I'm just loading it very carefully, but if it gets worse I may just have to buy a new one. Thankfully they're not terribly expensive. Today I tried the yellow ajinomoto cook-do box that @WhiteGhost pictured. I have to say it was not as good as the red one, which I had last night. The yellow box seems to be some kind of Chinese-style sweet and sour sauce and it is too sweet for me. Luckily, this is more solution than problem: the point of buying several options was to try them and figure out which ones I like, and having such a distinct preference so far makes me think making choices in the future will be easy. I'm calling this a success! That's all I've got on the attentiveness report, but I think tomorrow I'll look around Daiso to see if I can't find a cloth tape measure. I'm getting very curious to know whether my shape really is changing or not. Tomorrow is my last day of new schools (Atagawa Elementary), so expect to hear from me again soon!
  9. Wobbegong Conquers the Sakamichi

    @WhiteGhost tasukechatta! I found everything you pictured and more at the grocery store! A bunch of them are great because they tell you everything else you need to buy. I got a few, so in the future I can just pick one up, look at what veggies and meat it needs, and viola, grocery list! I hope they taste as good as you've promised, but either way I'll have a fun time finding out! Thanks!!
  10. Zeroh's Challenge

    Hmm. People do seem pretty accommodating of the pace at which I eat, and it usually isn't a problem if I eat in the teachers lounge, but when I eat with the students some of them feel obligated to wait around with me. They like to finish quickly so they can go run around with the rest of their lunch break, so while of course I'm happy if they want to hang out with me, I feel bad holding them back. Unlike me, they have to sit through the entire class period, so I'm sure they want to move around when they get the chance. (I get to stand and tend to pace at the front of the room or wander through the rows of desks, so I don't mind sitting leisurely while I eat.) The food culture is so different here than it is in the States that I really don't have to worry about the quality of ingredients or the nutritional content of the meals I eat. As long as I try to match the locals, I'm pretty much in the clear. Regarding 1, the rules in place around snacking between meals at school mean I am usually hungry at meal times, but I try to eat enough at each meal that I can make it to the next one without trouble. After that, number 4 can be a problem sometimes because school meals are pre-portioned, and you are expected to eat everything you are served. But I can always eat less at dinner if I ate too much at lunch, so hopefully it balances out overall -- and teachers get the same meals as students, so at most I'm getting what's considered a "junior high student portion." (On elementary school days the portions are perfect.) I definitely take your point, and I honestly really appreciate being told not to try to conform on this point. It's nice to have a vote of confidence! But it's also really awkward when I'm the last person still eating and all of the lunch trays have been cleared already and I'm causing trouble with my mess. Maybe if I can just eat faster at JHS lunch, I can keep eating slowly at breakfast and dinner, and be ok.
  11. The Rebel Guild's Spring Cleaning Spree

    Sweet mini! Thanks, Zeroh!! A ) Max Level: I know the area where I live like the back of my hand. I can recommend something fun for anyone with any interests, and I know a lot of people doing various things around town. I'm part of a strong local community, and have allies wherever I go. I am mentally stable and can offer a shoulder to anyone who needs me, and I have a strong support network for when I need that shoulder. I am physically fit, meaning I can participate in any activity I like without worrying my body will let me down. I have no extreme vitamin deficiencies and no unmonitored medical conditions. B ) The List: My list was a little messy because I wasn't sure how my travel plans were going to sort out, so it definitely needs some dusting! For the most part, I have met my lifestyle (reading/writing/traveling/mental heath) goals, but not my physical (food/exercise) goals. I was working on a C25K that got interrupted by moving to a foreign country, and I let my yoga fall by the wayside. My diet goals were haphazard to begin with, but since moving I've actually gotten them much more streamlined and I'm very happy with my current practice on that front. C ) Compare: One of my travel goals was to move to Japan, which I successfully did. The place where I live now has the community I want and the people here are ready and waiting to draw me into it. I couldn't be happier about that, but it does make me wonder if I'll ever be able to leave, and if I do, will I ever be able to find this kind of community again somewhere else? That's a question for a few years from now. In the meantime, I'm getting to know the local restaurant scene and also the local attractions, and developing contacts in the SCUBA world with the hope of fleshing out my interests there. I have a listed goal of doing something new in the area every week, and pursuing that goal will help with reaching my max level. So far I have two people here in town who seem likely to become close friends in time, who can act as a support network. In addition, since moving my network back home seems to have strengthened, and I'm doing much better at keeping in touch with family members and friends. I don't know if that will lapse as the novelty of my being abroad wears off, so that too is something that I will have to wait to find out about. My goals for mental health and stability are mostly written around research and increasing self-knowledge, but to be honest one of the biggest things I could do for my mental health was move away from my mother, and I did that. (Feels great.) I'm still interested in the book-learning aspect and I'm often able to put that information to use helping friends, so those goals will stay. In my old life, I was mostly sedentary. Since coming here, I walk everywhere and spend several hours a day standing or pacing around a classroom. However, my goals are mostly written around actual exercise programs, which haven't worked for me in the past despite a strong level of interest. I am going to let those go for a while and see how the change in lifestyle affects my body before I decide whether I really want to push myself to pursue those training programs or not.
  12. Rainelf moves into unknown territory

    Super good advice, seconding this. Also if there's something that's persistently tripping you up, instead of forcing yourself to push through it even though it's hard, see if there's something you can do to smooth the issue out or get around it. Ex: I never want to exercise in the morning because I don't like having to change clothes twice (first into workout gear, then into daytime clothes). Overcome by sleeping in workout gear or by moving workout to evening. Other ex: I consistently serve myself too much food, so I've stopped making more than one serving of food at a time and started using smaller plates. Making extra food is great because leftovers are super convenient, but not if I eat everything in one sitting.
  13. Zeroh's Challenge

    I'm having the opposite problem right now. I eat really slowly and everyone here keeps asking if I don't like the food. It's delicious, I just want to savor it! But all the teachers are used to eating really fast because the kids wander into the teacher's room after about 15-20 minutes and start asking questions about the course material, so if you want to eat, you have to finish by then. I'm trying but it is really tough to change the speed at which you eat! Good luck!
  14. Iceburner #9: Finding the balance in mind and body

    Great challenge! You got this, Iceburner!! I have a lot of trouble with mindless mobile gaming. Luckily for me it's pretty easy to delete a game if I catch myself playing it too much, so I still allow myself to download games if they look interesting. I usually end up getting rid of them pretty quick. The only games I've kept for longer than a month are Osmos, Solitaire, and Sudoku, all of which have been on my phone for several years now. Surfing the internet, on the other hand, is a major weakness and a huge timesuck that I do not do a good job of moderating... at all... If you figure out the secret to that one, please let me know!
  15. Bean Sidhe Vs Chaos - Just survive

    Here and following!! Bean, I'm so sorry I wasn't here to support you last challenge. (Well, I had a good excuse, but I'm still sorry to hear things got so tough!) I know you don't really believe us when we say it but the fact that you keep coming back and working really hard to improve your life even when you have so many other important things going on is really freaking impressive, and I am so glad I get to witness it. Here's to kicking this challenge's butt! You got this, Bean! (PS is it too late for me to plant garlic? My apartment gets a lot of light but none of it is direct so idk if I can eve grow garlic at all but I would certainly like to! And ginger if possible, I hear it grows well indoors...)