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October 17, 2009

October 13, 2009
Heard on the internets: 97% of diagnosed cases of flu here right now are H1N1. So that's what I've had since Friday, and the Swine vaccine won't arrive in time. A drawback to this new career o' mine is, you can't just call in sick when you're under the weather -- it's up to the ill teacher to arrange any substitute (although in an actual emergency, management steps in).

October 9, 2009
Settled into the new routine, with free afternoons of various durations Mon-Thu and three-day weekends, the schedule finally free of tiresome credential busywork and thankfully, no more computer class Thursday mornings, teaching elderly immigrants how to mouse. Morning classes, my Advanced students; and in the evenings, my intermediates, in the high school classrooms. Hate working nights but those classes are so much better 'cause the site's away from management, which drops in on my morning classes. One of those, the conversation class, is out of control wih fourteen Japanese women but only a few Koreans, a couple Chinese and two Spanish speakers; plus three Israelis and a Pole: the European contingent. The only male besides me, an elderly pilot whose post-military career involved flying 737s on domestic Taiwan flights.

Also working with a new demoographic this term, tutoring seekers of the GED and HS Diploma equivalent, people some might dismiss as high school dropouts but these kids aren't letting that happen, good for them. But one callow youth, white boy wearing a baseball cap, has the most appaling body mod, plugs in his earlobes, looks like he's using big plastic bottle caps. I'm reminded of a savage in the South Pacific I once read about, who used the various perforations in his ears for storage of small objects.

Since we get a week off between quarters I'll be heading down to LA early November, as my trip there last weekend was aborted due to traffic and not enough time.

October 1, 2009

September 26, 2009
  • At AskMe, Man vs. cow?

  • Any tattoo is inappropriate, except on a sailor; but these are especially appalling -- What were they thinking?

  • Three great photo-finds on flickr of the dust storm in Sydney: Station Platform, Open Door, and Luna Park -- they're like views from Mars. Glad I don't have to breathe that air...drove through a sandy dust storm on I-5 in California's central valley, late one afternoon in '92 -- its particles looked like cinnamon, and in the aggregate created a terrifying, zero-visibility situation.

  • We collected these when I was young and I recently tossed some rusted examples found in my parents' basement, saving only a Teem, which the Bottle Cap Man has like new for $3, and many others as well. Love those vintage designs.

September 20 - crime
I live over my parking space and late this morning while I was home a theiving vandal smashed my car's window and grabbed my Samsonite briefcase, a gift of this class. Only loss, school paperwork, and fortunately I'd just extracted the homework I'd check later in the afternoon, to be returned tomorrow. May replace replaced the busted window myself. .. ironic how just a week ago 'twas almost I doing the breaking, when I locked my keys inside it at the DIY car wash and spent almost an hour first scouting about for and then manipulating a wire coat hanger inside to unlock the Tercel.

Earlier today for the first time saw fresh mangosteen in a US supermarket, the Ranch 99 in Cupertino Village. Almost bought but $7 a pound and you could only purchase two-pound net bags, so it was an impulse not-buy. Later in my local produce market, the Sunnymount, I heard the couple in front of me buying a few tangelos at $14 a pound -- that must be a mistake? They thought so but payed anyway.

September 18, 2009

September 14, 2009

September 13, 2009
It's raining this evening in Silicon Valley, a rarity -- the winter rains usually don't begin until late autumn.

Dental distress, my fifth root-canal/crown treatment just completed, this one the most expensive as my insurance is essentially covering nothing, and it's my first ceramic crown. Age 40 was when this advanced stuff began, and that was a lower molar; but in a disturbing trend all of those since have been uppers. I still retain two of my wisdom teeth but the two extracted were uppers, as well.

On the other hand, the old Tercel's running and looking great. Finally replaced the tailight assembly, busted for years and patched with tape and cement; along with the missing trim (which fell off one night on the freeway several months ago, oops) now painted almost to match in metal-flake Rustoleum blue.

September 10, 2009

September 6, 2009
Tomorrow, the last day of freedom in a great summer. Tuesday, the new school year begins, with a different, challenging schedule.

September 1, 2009
So the new laptop's finally running the software I got it for, 'The Complete New Yorker, that eight-DVD package which includes every page of every issue (up until '06). Fascinating.
  • The big news from Japan is the election, and like the Spanish Civil War, confusing due to the party labels, but happy and fun in a Yes We Can! way because they finally threw the conservative bums out.

  • And I've just learned of their expression KY which is a hard to explain -- oblivious, maybe?

August 31, 2009
  • Via Kochalka we learn of McDonalds-Japan's new spokes-gaijin Mr James, a mocking stereotype of the doofus-Westerner created to market some new sandwich-combos, which is the only thing I can understand, at the end of the commercial. More details available in a Japan Probe article, as well as this MetaFilter thread unnoticed a week ago.

  • How serious are these sites? Amusing, anyway -- Stuff White People Like and Stuff Christian Culture Likes. "Asian Girls" and "Japan" in the former are so accurate it's scary, or embarrassing; and "Bare Feet" in the latter is amusing: they're just keepin' it real.

August 28, 2009
Yesterday, had my credential meeting, and passed (hooray!); today, ninth and next-to-last cargo transfer between storage unit and new apt... this was the one with the big stuff (mattress, etc) strapped to the roof of the mighty Tercel, a maneuver I've performed many times. Everything going very smoothly.

School's doing something we should've seen in California a long time ago -- they're building solar farms over the parking lots -- more shade, more power, a good deal around.

August 24, 2009
Been so busy with the new apartment. Mostly pleasant except next door neighbor who plays loud video games. About half a kilometer north of my previous location (below), everything's new, clean and working, but smaller and cheaper, and even though I'm closer to the big road, not so much external noise.

August 20, 2009
Seeking an apartment, again. Should be easier than last year, better selection anyway, since "For Rent" signs are all over the place. School for me starts the day after Labor Day, and because of budget constraints this year's going to be a little unpleasant -- morning classes and evening classes, only four days a week. Maybe an afternoon class once a week, none of them levels I've taught before. And if not enough students show up, the course will be cancelled.
  • In Mother Jones, Spin the Bottle is about Fiji water -- like many attractive and expensive products, it's evil.

August 16, 2009
Last day in the DC area -- tomorrow, back to Silicon Valley.

August 12, 2009

August 10, 2009
Scott photo of the author in Charlotte NC Aug 4 2009 Returned at last from ten days on the road, 1215 miles, stops in Falls Church, Front Royal, Charlottesville, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Kitty Hawk. Portrait by Scott in Charlotte. Contemplating how well we have it, Kings of the Road, in comparison to all those who came before, by foot and pack animal, whilst I whiz by in air-conditioned-comfort, motoring along at slightly illegal velocities in my Dad's cruise-controlled Ford Explorer.

August 6, 2009

August 5, 2009
Writing from Charlotte, North Carolina, the "Queen City" (one of 23 American cities with this nickname). Thanks to my hosts Scott and Margaret for such wonderful hospitality!

July 30, 2009

July 26, 2009
Been inside the Beltway for almost a month now, some details: staying with my parents, in the same upstairs where I lived during the 1960s while in elementary & JrHigh school... so a little nostalgic, even though the room's devoid of all furnishings from that era. Riding my dad's great bike around the old neighborhood, at night a special treat with fireflies, and balmy night air. Sometimes, I ride over to my brother's house, Wunderland. Every day I clean out a different small part of the basement, every evening an early meal with my parents at a different restaurant, although some places, they go almost every week. Brief road trips within Maryland in my dad's blue Type 1 VW; later this week, I'll set out on the bigger journey down South into Virginia and North Carolina, using the much newer Ford. A few little jaunts downtown on the Metro, naturally, once to see the 1934 show at the American Art Museum (more) and after I get back, the Alan Bean paintings at the Air&Space described below.

July 20 - Moon Day
In editorial pages of great newspapers, Time to Boldly Go Once More, Buzz Aldrin's proclamation. Interview with Alan Bean - Quit talkin' to me, Buzz. I don't wanna think about it. I don't know anything about it. I don't wanna think about ways to go to Mars -- I'm not an astronaut anymore. Mr.  Bean was on the second mission, fourth man on the moon; but walked away from all that and now he's an artist with a big show at the NASM where 43 of his 170 paintings are on display. More lunar:

July 16, 2009

July 14, 2009
Noticed a Citizen watch commercial which led me to various other time-lapsed YouTubes. Both that first one and Tokyo wonder lights and shadows (which gets really good at 2:00) have added video effects. Samuel Cockedey's Static:Pulse highlight's that city's beauty; nubero's Tokyo Timelapse even more colorful, possibly the best of this set because of the audio. Tokyo Anime Nite / Cool Japan identifies neighborhoods and mixes in some cartoons and getting away from Japan, although locations aren't identifed, the amazing time-lapse video makes me miss LA. Finally, saw one of these a long ago but they're always fun -- Los Angeles to New York City is a four-minute coast-to-coast drive, in a convertible, camera mounted in the back seat.

July 9, 2009
  • A headline yesterday prompted my first attempt at a MetaFilter FPP (or Front Page Post) but it was rejected for some arbitrary reason! I'm active in their green community (Ask Metafilter) but don't spend much time in the original MetaFilter blue. Anyway, I thought it was interesting -- you hear the expression Death By Chocolate but how often does it actually happen?

  • Holocaust: The Ignored Reality by Timothy Snyder in the New York Review of Books.

  • In Slate, The Wink That Changed the World by Michael Meyer.
    The coming months will see a crescendo of anniversary commemorations of communism's end, culminating with the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. For many, Americans especially, it was a glorious moment, emblematic of the West's victory in the Cold War. It seemed to come out of the blue. But if you watched the Eastern bloc's disintegration from the ground, as I did over the course of that epic year, you know that the process was far longer and more complex than most people realize.

July 7, 2009
  • Some find 'em creepy but I like the Evian roller babies!

  • The BBC reports -- ant mega-colony takes over the world. I have shared my living space with members of the "Californian Large" previously and know these Argentine ants well -- was in fact discussing them here in Maryland with a nearby stranger at the fireworks on July 4th, recommending the best weapon I've found: Windex. On the radio recently, an entomological scholar confirmed what I've heard before, that the weight of the world's total ant population exceeds all of us humans. (Note that's all ants, not just the little Argentines.)

  • Steve Sailor: Michael Jackson vs Fred Astaire -- the latter's talents were roughly similar to the former's: great dancer, pretty good singer. After being exposed to Captain Eo I always wondered why Jacko was considered suitable family entertainment, but Fred's always great and I love Clean Gene too ('specially in The Young Girls of Rochefort) so was surprised at his character revealed in this bit of "Singing in the Rain" trivia: Gene Kelly insulted Debbie Reynolds for not being able to dance. Fred Astaire, who was hanging around the studio, found her crying under a piano and helped her with her dancing.

June 29, 2009

June 26, 2009

June 25, 2009
"People are already texting about it, remembering his greatest moments," said 17-year-old Delmar Dualeh.

Kathleen Magnaye of New York was at Los Angeles' Venice Beach when she received a frantic call from her boyfriend. She raced to Jackson's house with her 14-year-old sister to take photos.

from AP news, Hundreds of Jackson fans converge on hospital

June 24, 2009
Winding down at my Sunnyvale apartment, moving everything into the storage unit again, just like last summer -- although the plan is to hang around my parents' house, for July and most of August I'll have no fixed address. I'll miss this apartment, although it has some serious flaws. Getting a new one upon my return shouldn't be difficult, unlike a year ago there's For Rent signs all over the place, meaning a lower rent should be part of the deal, as well. Location Independent has information for those who'd adapt a nomadic lifestyle, useful even for part-timers like myself.

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