Saturday, June 28, 2008

BAD English Schools in Japan - MSE

I can't seem to find a single Forum Board *yet* that comprehensively addresses this topic so I've decided to start a series here.

In this series I will introduce the places you absolutely want to avoid if you are looking to teach English in Japan.

In this first installment, allow me to introduce the school I am currently at, MSE, Mizusawa School of English in Iwate prefecture. They apparently post in several places like ESL Elite, but they normally post here and this is were I originally found them.

And we're not just talking the verbal kind. I've put up with plenty of pornographic comments working at MSE without complaint. Nope, we're talking the touchy-feely, skin-crawling kind of sexual harassment.

Apparently no one bothered to tell them this was a place of learning, not a hostess bar.

If that is not enough to turn you off, how about CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY WORK?
I was not aware they were missionaries until I started working. It is fine to have faith I think; but NOT when it is an unspoken part of the school curriculum. And she will try to convert the students, oh so subtly. The younger ones are rather blind to it, but the adults aren't. Each and every one asked me, "When you leave, who will teach?" When I responded, "Mrs. Mine", not one of them looked the least bit happy about it.

Still not convinced?
How about "forced labor"?
I was deathly sick for one week, but because I wasn't allowed to stay home, it dragged on for weeks. That was in March. I'm still seeing doctors for treatment ALL AT MY EXPENSE 4 months later.

Shall we try unannounced "pay cuts"?
Fine. Go ahead and cut my pay, but do NOT wait to tell me you have done it after a whole month has past!! An upfront and honest employer would tell you beforehand, not four weeks and 100000 later.

Seriously people, MSE - avoid this place like the plague.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

You're a WERE-what?!?!

You thought European commercials were a hoot. They've got nothing on the Japanese. From naked women to singing business men... still I like this one the best so far:
The Online interactive Laptop computer commercial where you can hang out with BUNNY-man!


There are a set of 4 boxes, usually at the bottom of the frame. One is a set of 3 grey buttons with either an ! or ?. Next to that is a blue button with an image of a door.
The 1 grey, !-button just tells you a little more about the product. The 2 grey, ?-buttons let you play with BUNNY-man and the blue button lets you choose other rooms in the house to play in. If you click on the blue door button a diagram of his house will pop up over the current frame. You can go to any room that is shaded red - there are 4 rooms to pick from.

You can see the original commericial that birthed this site, too! No matter what room you are in, at the bottom of the frame you will see 4 "tabs". The first one will have Japanese and these letters somewhere in it- CM - standing for commercial. Click on that one and a new window will pop up with your pre-set Real or WMP player . You know what to do from there!!

BTW, on the right are 2 more links with the numbers 15 and 30, respectively. Those show you other versions of the commercial.

Enter the brave, new world and
LIMBO with the BUNNY-man.

Woman: "A werewolf!?! You're A WEREWOLF!!?"
Woman: "What the hell? A were-bunny?!"
Man: "I told you I wasn't any good with the moon."

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Culinary Delights

I totally forgot about Great Japanese Food like...

1) Aloe!
You can eat it in yogurt! You can drink it with grape juice! It's even an alcoholic drink!

2) Coffee Jelly!
Yes! They do not just have the "wall of canned coffee" in every conceviable convience and grocery store in Japan, they have it in Jello form! And even better, several varieties boast- "Caffineless so your children can enjoy it without worry.". On behalf of Starbucks, I thank you Japan--Way to go, hook 'em early.
And it comes with little creamers noless.

3) Chuu-Hai
Next to the wall of happy-coffee, is the even happier "wall of chuu-hai".
Let me explain. Japan is a drinkers paradise. Although the Japanese couldn't mix a cocktail to save their lives, they have these mixed drinks in a can like Bartles and James but not as overly sweet and only costing around 1 dollar for 8ozs. You can buy them in just about any store-grocery and convience store. And there are convience stores on pretty much EVERY corner here. As an additional perk, there are a rainbow of flavors for this stuff. They have traditional flavors like grape, apple, strawberry, white peach, etc.. but they also have Aloe , Golden Mango, Blood Orange!!!, Lycee, Guava, Passion Fruit! The first three are my favorite so far.

4) Satsumaimo
The Satsuma "Imo" or potato is the only potato I could imagine eating for breakfast, much less plain. It's a type of Sweet Potato, but not at all like US sweet potatos. After I came back from Japan the first time, I tried to eat the US Sweet potato the way I would eat a Satusmaimo-boiled and plain. No good! BLAH! There's just something special about the Satsumaimo that makes it good enough to be sold on the streets of Japan the same way we have hot dog vendors in NYC. (no comparison from the nutrional standpoint though. ;) )

5) Exotic chocolate
So, I went to the local liquer store again. I often do at least once a week because they are the ONLY place in this backwater (Literally. The previous tenet of the apartment pointed out that the new, improved name of this city meant JUST that. Not really the image to attract new business. ), that has some selection of international foods like cheese from the US, coconut milk, rice pasta, and FOREIGN CHOCOLATE. The foreigners always get the good chocolate. I found and promptly ate-to the dismay of my stomach:
. "Old Jamaica" from New Zealand-chocolate with rum and raisins. It should be noted that the list of ingredients specifically said "rum" not "rum flavoring".
. Some yummy bar from Germany that consisted of light rice kripsies ontop of fluffy strawberry cream wrapped in milk chocolate. YUMMY and refreshing.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

p2p networks blocked for users in Japan!

With the recent move of the Japanese ISP's to ban P2P networks, many sites are not available for streaming in Japan!! It is not yet definite whether this IP ban will be permanent or temporary.

But as always, the internet is on the move, like a kaliediscope--twisting and writhing its way into different shapes and disguises...

Previously in dealing with country restricted services we introduced how to use Anonymous Proxy.

ANON Proxy does not necessarily work in this circumstance for those in Japan as it depends on your direct ISP and/or the location of the ANON proxy.
For instance, I was not able to even connect to one site - CR - itself via anon proxies located in the USA or China, but I could through a lonesome little proxy server in Ghana. So if you are up to it, keep trying different servers and direct your efforts towards those in lesser moderated countries like Turkey and Ghana. That would be my suggestion. Just also be aware the tend to be really slow.

The proxy servers on the previously published site are still good and the instructions are still valid. Note the WARNING about using ANON proxy services. THAT HAS NOT CHANGED! One change that should be noted is that with the new NETSCAPE (version 2.0.0.x), you make the internet connection alterations via the path Edit > Preferences > Advanced > Network. For older versions use Tools > Options > Advanced > Network.

Frankly, right now at the time I write this I am buffering Suicide Song at a snail's pace, but at least it's loading!!

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

cheerful happy rainbows make smilegood time

Apparently, most Japanese have never seen a real rainbow—there’s too much air pollution here.

On the other hand, they get to experience their own little rainbow inside the grocery throughout the year.

Take, for instance, KitKats:
In the Spring, there is Orange.
In the Summer, there is Blueberry and Lemon.
In October I found Acorn Squash for Halloween.
Again: There are no “pumpkins” in Japan. Some moron saw what is very obviously an acorn squash and decided to call it a pumpkin. As we know, acorn squash does NOT taste like a pumpkin. So imagine for the moment, if you will, an acorn squash-flavored KitKat. (Maybe you shouldn’t if you just ate.)

Now that we’re past Halloween, in preparation for Xmas, there are a flood of new flavors: White Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and Mint. Oh, and lest we forget, Sweet Red BEAN. (Not as bad as the Acorn Squash, but still, weird.)

And I assure you, come January, we will once again see the ubiquitous Strawberry. Because in January, to use a Monty Python qu0te, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting something made with strawberries.

Again: They wonder why their strawberries taste bitter, not sweet. Here’s an idea— They are a SPRING fruit. Plant them in the Spring!! Not in the dead of winter!!!

It’s been awhile since I’ve experienced a full year in Japan, so I’m sure I’ve missed some colors. Wait until Spring. They’ve GOT to do something with purple.

Maybe… Purple sweet potato flavor??
(Don’t laugh. It’s perfectly and absolutely possible.)

in case you're wondering, the title of this section is an example of typical JapEnglish (JapAnglish?) seen throughout the country

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Adventures in Importing

As many times as I've traveled in and out of Japan, I've always felt their customs screening was rather open and non-offensive, downright 'friendly' even. Aka, LAX.

This however was too funny.

Mapplethorp was in the news!!!

I was lolling in front of the computer half-listening to the news when the words "mapplethorp" and "waisetsu" (indecent) caught my attention. (Of course, the word "waisetsu" will always catch my attention.) I had to hit replay. Apparently, a publishing house CEO was bringing a Mapplethrope photo colllection into Japan when it was confiscated as "indecent material". However the issue was brought to court and that decision was overturned. The courts declared it "artistic" material.

Although I have to say, compared to some of the things I see on the shelves everyday here, that's a pretty hypocratic stance to take - to treat it first as "indecent material" and later decalre it as "art". But still, be careful what you try to bring in to Japan. Starting this year,2008, they are both FINGERPRINTING and PHOTOGRAPHING incoming non-citizens.

At any rate, at least I know all my books are safe now. XD

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Quirky Japan

Multi-tasking gone too far:
Several years ago it was predicted that websites would exist everywhere for the purpose of advertising. You see them in the newspaper, on tv, in magazines, on billboards and the little hand-out kleenex packages at train stations. It is the "age" of the obiqutious website urls.
But seriously, why did my roll of toilet paper have web addresses printed all over it?!
I ask you--to what end does this serve?
How many people do you know who not only bring their laptop computers into the bathroom, but intend to use it there??

A sad day for children and drivers everywhere:
I am here to report the end of the free-standing beer vending machines. Previously, you couldn't walk 2 blocks without coming across a free-standing, unregulated beer or cigarette vending machine. (Normally, they were right next to each other.) Now, due to the rapid increase in fatalities linked to DUI (wow. No one could have seen that coming.), the cigarette machines are left standing alone by the roadside like jilted lovers.
So...apparently, it's considered a serious problem if the children buy unregulated beer and crash their bikes into a wall, but no one cares if they start smoking pack a day as 6th graders and die of lung cancer 50 years later?

Who says american's produce the most waste?:
Although actual, true scienticists (not government-paid) in universities in the US were talking about global warming 20 years ago when I was a child, the US governemnt chose to ignore it, in favor of continuing to line their own pockets with money from oil. Other countries, like Japan, accepted the truth for what it was. The result--You can recycle everything from clothes to plastic to glassware to paper products here. And frankly, that's the least they can do becasue each and EVERY indivdual piece of candy, piece of cake, piece of chocolate is WRAPPED IN PLASTIC! Sometimes twice over!!
Not only are the desserts hygenically sealed, going to the supermarket is like going xmas shopping with everything pre-wrapped. Seriously, you HAVE to buy your veggies and fruits pre-"assembled" if you will, in plastic bags sealed with a piece of gold tape. No choices to be made about how much you can buy. It doesn't border on the ridiculous, it IS ridiculous.
Everyone complains about the price of food here. If they were actually serious about doing something about it, the first thing they would do is get rid of the pretty bags and sparkle tape!
Here's a long overdue heads-up for an entire nation--It's FOOD. You EAT IT. You're not decorating the house with it!

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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Lentil Lovers!

No matter who I make this for, it always comes out a winner. Very simple, very few ingredients, but such a wonderful medly.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 large vadalia onion, sliced
3 tablespoons of butter (ghee best)
1 teaspoon of salt (do NOT omit)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Cook the above ingredients together until the onions are slightly browned.

1/2 cup green mung dal beans
2.5-3.5 cups water

Cook for 30 minutes.

Then add
1/2 cup red lentils

Cook for another 30 minutes. Add more water as necessary, but not more than 3.5 cups total.

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