Friday, July 8, 2011

Four Years of Marriage = Four Years of Blogging!

Four years ago today, on 7/7/2007, Nana made me the happiest man alive by agreeing, against her better judgement, to be my lawful wedded life, so on and so forth.

I responded by subjecting her to two years in Korea, a year in Edinburgh, a year in Japan, and a four-year concurrent sentence of intellectual property tirades and horrible, horrible puns. Even if she weren't already awesome in all the countless ways she's awesome, Nana would be awesome anyway for the mere fact of having put up with me for these 48 months.

Here's to you, Nana! How about four years going on forty?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Earthquake/Tsunami volunteering: Do For Japan

A lot of people have asked since we've been back how much our part of Japan was affected by the Tohoku quake and tsunami in March. As we've said, Fukuoka was essentially unaffected - some people coming and going based on nuclear fears and evacuations, some fluctuations in produce availability and price, but no power shortages and certainly no damage. Fukuoka prefecture (a prefecture is a bit like a state or a county) has, as a consequence, tried to give a lot. The local campaign is "Ganbarou Nippon," or "Do for Japan." You can see its web site here, and here partially in English courtesy of Google translate (scroll to the bottom).

Under the auspices of this campaign and in collaboration with Tohoku International School in Sendai, fellow FIS faculty member Matt and his wife Ashley organized a volunteer trip to the Sendai area. You can see their amazing photographs through their blog and on their Picasa album here. I've pilfered this picture of three of our students in Onigawa to show you a bit of what they experienced:

Obviously, much of Japan is still in serious trouble. In the interests of, as Fukuoka Prefecture put it, "doing" for Japan, I hope that the school will be able to arrange some more volunteer trips when I'm in the country and can go along. If you are interested in "doing" something financial to help, you might consider the Japanese Red Cross (you can donate through Paypal here). On a smaller scale, I have just discovered that Tohoku International School has a fund for families in the Sendai community. You can donate through their web site here.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Belated post: Fukuoka International School Spring Festival

FIS has a spring festival which used to be annual, switched to biannual because of the colossal workload involved, and has swung back to annual largely because it is much easier to advertise when you can get people into a rhythm: it's spring; time to go to the FIS festival.

For all that the day is a ton of work, it's also a big success for the school, raising lots of money for PTA and raising the school profile. We also were able to raise a lot of money for earthquake and tsunami relief - 100% of flea market sales and if I recall correctly 10% of the overall sales. Besides the flea market, there were food stalls showing off the culinary prowess of the diverse parent body, a used book sale (expat GOLD), and tons of games for kids of all ages put on by the various homerooms. Justin's class had a balloon shoot using a dart gun, which was highly popular, but I am proud to say the most profitable of all the games was the 9th grade coin drop. We filled an aquarium with water and cups and invited kids to drop Japan's obnoxiously tiny, plasticky 1-yen coins (seriously; they're like something that would come with a game board) into the cups to win prizes. I think we got a lot of tickets because we were the best game for the under-3 set: you didn't need any hand-eye coordination to play.

There was also a stage with various performances, which was the original rationale behind this belated and really uninteresting post. I apologize to readers who have been spoiled by Justin's excellent posts of the past weeks. We've been in Pittsburgh at family events for the last few days receiving hugely flattering compliments from people reading the blog, and now I have performance anxiety. This, for instance, will be Justin's aunt's hairdresser's inaugural subscription post (hi, Di!) and I am deeply chagrined that it is so below par.

But what are you going to do, complain about it? Before you do, bear in mind that I did this during the Martial Arts club Spring Festival mainstage performance:

(Actually, breaking was about the only part of this performance that went well for me. I help our PE teacher Raffy with his after-school program, which is Tong Il Moo Do. My black belt is in Taekwondo. This means that although I help him wrangle the kids and correct them on basic techniques (pro tip: when you punch, don't lead with your knuckles), when it comes to forms and other choreographed sequences, I have no time to learn and therefore have no idea what I'm doing. After my spectacular failure on one-steps, preset patterns of defense in response to a punch, fellow teacher Kevin voted to demote me to a blue belt, and I can't really disagree.)

If you are not intimidated by my martial arts, perhaps you will fear Justin's African drum club? (I don't know why. Maybe you don't like loud noises, or funk, or you are a Korean baby and you've just caught sight of Justin's beard. He makes children in supermarkets cry, and then I have to bug my eyes out at them to confuse them and then they forget to be afraid. It's very stressful.)

Some of you may be concerned by the fact that our students seem to have no faces. Rest assured, they do in reality all possess eyes and ears, although in the grand tradition of middle schoolers often prefer to use neither. I'm just not comfortable with blogging photos of the kids so I try to blur them for discretion.

Our time in the US continues until August (this is a great opportunity for you to burgle our Japanese apartment, where you will not find enough valuables to offset the cost of the plane ticket) so you can look forward to many future inane catch-up posts until we get back overseas and start doing interesting things again. Carry on!