Sunday, October 21, 2007

Patrick- Teacher Evaluation Days

On Thursday we had subject evaluation in English, which meant that I taught two classes with my three English teachers, and we were observed by the school principal, the English department head from the board of education, and two teachers from the school. After the classes, we met for two hours to discuss what they thought we could do better.

Although in general it has been my experience that teachers refrain from criticizing each other, the point of these meetings is apparently to take a hard look at what can be improved, and that they did. I won't go into specific details, but it was a long, productive discussion.

Of course, the main teachers glamoured up the classes a little, as we did more creative things than we would usually do, but this actually backfired, as it became apparent that the students could not (in the second years' case) compose a newspaper article from scratch in 50 minutes.

Anyway, I was surprised at the accountability and seriousness of the meeting. I thought that the accountability was generally handled through test scores, which in each subject area are administered and passed along to the board of education every few months.

Patrick- Hospital Part Two

So, on Friday I went to the hospital again and got new medicine for my eye, and also had my wart frozen off. This time I managed to see two doctors in four hours and receive treatment and medicine at a cost of $20, which I don't think is too bad.

Although they also used liquid nitrogen here to freeze the wart, rather than a spray can the doctor used a jug of liquid nitrogen with a Q-tip and painted it on. While it took a lot longer, and was a bit more painful, it was also more accurate, as my blister now surrounds the wart only rather than the wide area that the spray can usually inflamed.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

This is a Kotatsu

Dear all,
I talked to my brother earlier and was unable to accurately describe a kotatsu so I took some pictures to use as visual aids.

This is a whole and complete kotatsu. It's made up of a table, a futon, and a zabuton which is a futon that goes under the table on the floor.
This is a picture of the zabuton with a cushion on top of it that you sit on and the large futon lifted up. You sit on the cushion and cover yourself with the big futon. It's very snug and warm.
This is a picture of underneath my kotatsu. The heater's is on the bottom of the table. The cord leads to a switch.
This is the switch. You can turn the heater on and off with it. The temperature control for the heater is on the side of the heater itself so you can control the temperature from just warm to really, really hot.
This is a better if slightly sideways picture of the heater. You can see the temperature knob.

The heater shoots out heat which is then trapped by the encasing futons and then you can put your feet and part of your legs under the table and get all toasty warm.

I hope that this has been a helpful description of a kotatsu.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What Morioka Castle Once Looked Like

Since Morioka still advertises it as a castle town, though the castle was destroyed, I was always curious what it looked like. Well, thankfully, I found these posters at my school during the cultural festival which give one some idea:

Patrick- Cultural Festival

This past weekend we had the cultural festival, where the students spend two days having an open house with many performances. They decorate the classrooms, rearranging everything:

In the classrooms, they displayed projects they had created in most of their classes.

For example, all of the students in the school painted different pictures of the Prefectural Park which is about a five minutes' walk from the school:

And here's one of the school itself:

Some of the students also made anti-drunk driving and anti-bullying posters:

Third year students had to paint self-portraits. Some of them gave themselves blue eyes:

Third year students also made enormous banners for their classes:

Second year students had to sew cargo pants together. When I took home ec, we only had to make a bag:

Students also showed off their calligraphy skills:

Second grade students wrote their dream in English. Third years wrote a poem. These are some of my favorites:

I'll add more about the performances and such when I am able to get some of the video and audio recordings up here.

Patrick- Hospital Visit

So unfortunately, I had a repeat of two bumps growing on my eye, and so I made a visit to the hospital.

Here, the hospitals generally don't take appointments, and the prefectural hospital (the biggest, and the only one guaranteed to have nearly every kind of treatment one might need) only takes patients between only 8:30 and 11:00, so I had to get up early. I got there at 8:45 and there were countless people already there. I had been told that it would probably take all day.

Well, filling out the initial paperwork took about forty-five minutes. Then I was sent to the eye treatment area.

There, I waited about another hour, and then taking the different tests took an additional hour. So, I was out before lunch, which made me happy. Apparently it is another infection, so I was prescribed some eye drops.

Thankfully, most doctors have fairly comprehensive English knowledge of the names of various conditions and problems. But for the paperwork, I was saved by my Nintendo DS, which I thought was hilarious. I would have had trouble getting medical treatment if it were not for my Game Boy, which now sports a comprehensive Japanese dictionary.

The hospital visit only cost $25, half of which was the "first time at this hospital fee." Getting the medication had a me a little scared though, because I was told that medicine is where the doctors make their money. However, I got two bottles of medication for $5, which is probably the cheapest I've ever gotten a prescription.