Saturday, January 30, 2010

Dog on wheels

A couple of times recently I have seen woman taking her dog for a walk in a local park. This is not unusual. A lot of people take their dogs for walks. What is unusual about this dog is that it has four legs and two wheels.

When the dog runs, its back legs run, too, only the back feet don't quite touch the ground. They brush the ground sometimes, but there is no weight on them.

The dog doesn't seem to notice this. The dog apparently thinks everything is working just fine.

And so it is.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bribery and corruption (cont)

I meant to tell you what happened with my plan for the naughty Thursday class, but just after it happened I caught a nasty cold and things got tiring and busy for a while. I did write about it, but forgot to post it.

You will be happy to hear that my boss cooperated with my scheme to scare the students. He came into my class fifteen minutes before it was due to end, and bellowed at me.


"Er, no!" I said, and cowered, as per our plan. He turned to the class. The students were suddenly all sitting bolt upright.


There was a pause as the students mentally translated what he'd said.

"NO!" shouted a couple of the quicker ones. They were electrified.

My boss stared at them.

"WELL, SOMEONE HAS BEEN LETTING CLASSES GO EARLY," he shouted. Then he added, with a little less volume, "Maybe not your teacher?"

"NO!" answered some of the students. "YES!" answered others. (Negative questions always confuse them.)

"Maybe BadAunt is a good teacher," suggested my boss.

"YES, SHE IS!" replied my students, fervently. They looked terrifically serious.

The boss stared at the students, who stared back. You could see what they were thinking. He really is a scary boss! He really might fire her!

It was a stalemate.

Then the boss almost ruined it. His face started to twitch. Usually I hate the ridiculously high podium, because when I sit down I disappear from the students' sight, but for once I was glad. I sat down and disappeared from sight.

He tried to hold it back, but that sea of earnest, horrified faces made it hard. His shoulders shook. Trying to keep his face stern made his mouth look like the wrong end of a dog. I huddled down behind the podium, weeping silently into my hands. My boss glanced at me.

"ERM, GOOD!" he shouted, and I suddenly remembered the other thing I'd wanted to do. I stood up.

"It's them!" I said, pointing at the students. "They always want to leave early, and they try to bribe me!"

"Really?" said my boss. I hadn't told him about this bit.

"Yes," I said.

"Did you try to bribe her?" my boss asked the students. "How much?" He sounded interested.

"What?" asked the students.

My boss asked more slowly. The students still didn't get it. They hadn't remembered their new word. My boss asked again, in Japanese.

"No!" said my students, looking fantastically innocent. "We wouldn't do anything like that!" (The sneaky little liars!) The boss glanced at me uncertainly.

"HOW MUCH IS AN A?" I snapped at one of the guys.

"ONE THOUSAND YEN!" he snapped back. "Oh, wait..."

"Is that all?" asked my boss. "Only one thousand yen?"

"Er, One MILLION yen." corrected the student. "No, a hundred ... thousand yen. Maybe?"

The upshot was that the whole farce degenerated into yet another lesson about numbers, and my students were left not QUITE sure whether the boss had been serious or not.

On Thursday the following week the boss was sick and his class was cancelled. My students saw the notice outside the classroom, and when I walked into the classroom they were all excited.

"Sensei, sensei! The boss is absent today! Can we finish early?"

"Really?" I said. "HA! Yes, let's finish early!" I rubbed my hands together.

I made them promise to work really hard so we could get through the day's lesson quickly and finish early. Then, towards the end of class I put a word puzzle up on the board.

"When you get the answer to this, you can go home early!" I said, and they all cheered. Then they focused on the puzzle.

They were still staring at the board when the bell rang.

Saturday, January 09, 2010


Remember the Santa-like things I posted pictures of in December? They are variations (adaptation? parodies?) of Ah and Un, the guardians at shrine gates (except that they were both Un, because both of their mouths were closed). They were guarding a cafe rather than a shrine.

A curious blend of western and eastern happened at the shrine around the corner from our place, too. Shrines are always decorated and spruced up for New Year, and our neighbourhood had an unusually Christmassy New Year.

After going under the decorations we washed our hands in dragon water:

Ah and Un were at our shrine, too. These are shishi, lion dog guardians. (The warrier-type ones are Nioh.)

This is Ah:

And this is Un:

This woman has just bought an omikuji (fortune paper), and is reading it.

This woman and her panda are reading ema, people's wishes for the year.

Happy New Year, everyone!