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Amparo Bertram

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05:21 pm: 'Tis the season...for cheesy chips?
Japan loves seasonal food flavors, as I've mentioned before. Snack foods in particular have a wide variety of often startling flavors that appear and disappear every couple months. I pay particular attention to the potato chips. Two separate brands came out with new winter flavors--"pepper and cheese" from one and "cream cheese" from the other. So far I've tried the cream cheese flavor. It's not bad...though it doesn't really taste like cream cheese to me. (Maybe that's because I always eat the lowfat kind?)

This past week has been rather irregular. On Saturday I went to the Ritsu-Moriyama Exhibition. The teachers all stood out in the lobby to usher parents (and late students). Some of them may have stayed out there during the whole performance; I don't know, because I got tired of just standing around a half hour into the exhibition and went to sit in the visitor section. Without the fashion show and the drama club performances, it was a lot more like...well, a conference than a performance. Ritsumeikan science students who went on a research trip to Australia gave a Powerpoint presentation about what they learned. The exchange students with Michigan and Hawaii gave presentations about their experiences. The one outstanding performance was by the baton twirling club, which did a baton/ballet rendition of Disney's Aladdin. It was spectacular. The exhibition was finished off with a performance by the Ritsumeikan University traditional Japanese instrument club, playing songs using the koto (Japanese harp), shamisen (three-stringed banjo-like instrument), and shakuhachi (recorder-like Japanese flute). The music was pretty, but I couldn't help wondering why there was a university performance at a high school exhibition. (I know, I know, it's because Ritsumeikan is trying to recruit for their school. It still seemed out of place.)

Sunday I went to Osaka with gnine for a comic fan event. It was the first time I ever manned a dealer's table, so it was a new experience for me.

This is the last week before the students take their midterms. I spent some time writing exams for several different classes. Students are also taking entrance exams for college, so at times I'm asked to go over copies of the English section to see how well the student did, or to explain which answers should be correct.

Today is a national holiday, Labor Thanksgiving. It's not a big deal the way Thanksgiving generally is in the US. It's more like, "Yay! A day off! Why? Just because!" Still, I took the opportunity to make fresh beans and tortillas for a mini-feast. Nothing hits the spot quite like they do.

The supermarkets have all started playing Christmas music. It almost makes me feel as if it should be Christmas any day now. I keep getting these urges to bake things...

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[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:November 24th, 2006 05:25 am (UTC)
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Happy Thanksgiving!
The beans and tortillas sound great. Rob hosted a meal at his new house and Shinobu brought along a few international friends. This Saturday Bob and I'll go to South Bend for that part of the family.

We put out the KitKats from Japan you sent some time ago. Our guests from Japan loved them, especially the green tea flavored ones.

Also, Shinobu discovered your books and has been reading the Fruit Basket series with relish.

It was a nice day here, we just missed you.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:November 24th, 2006 07:45 am (UTC)
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Rob hosted a meal at his new house and Shinobu brought along a few international friends.

I got the pictures that Dad sent. The house looks great! I can't wait to see it in person. (Seems like the previous owners didn't believe in decorating with color, though...)

I'm glad the KitKats went over well. There have been several new flavors since then. I enjoy trying them, though the pumpkin Halloween ones weren't the greatest idea.

Also, Shinobu discovered your books and has been reading the Fruit Basket series with relish.

Nice! Glad to hear she found something to her taste.
[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:November 24th, 2006 02:36 pm (UTC)
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Seems like the previous owners didn't believe in decorating with color, though...

It seems that way. Actually, the previous owners ran a "Southwestern USA" motif and used a lot of earth tones in their accents (mirrors and rugs that they left for us, anyway) It makes it very easy for us to put anything in there. It all looks good with the grey and neutral basics they have.

We're definitely adding a Goodwill--Salvation Army flair to the house. I think Rob is going to concentrate on the big things first--water filtration/softener system, furnaces, etc. He is very willing to wait for the fancy furniture.
[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:November 24th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
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Did I say, "left for us?" I sure meant "left for him." He's been so good about letting us put our two cents in that I feel an integral part of the process. The house is definitely all his, though.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 4th, 2006 06:48 pm (UTC)
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Hi! I'm not entirely sure how I got to your journal, but I was reading some of your posts and find your talk about Japan fascinating! How long have you lived there? My aunt lived there for 7 years while she taught English to people, in one of her stories she described a very similar festival to the one you were mentioning a few posts down with the pictures of the parade. However, in her seven years living there, she never actually learned the language! She never passed level 4, she failed in the speaking aspect. I find it insane to live there without basic Japanese skills, but do want to consider a job in Japan in the distant future, so I was curious how long it took you to learn Japanese... I read somewhere that it takes an estimated 900 hours to reach level 1, but I suppose that's not really fluent Japanese, either. I'm guessing your fluent?

Sorry for the random post~ Curiosity got the best of me. ^__^;
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:December 5th, 2006 01:11 pm (UTC)
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How long have you lived there?

I was here two years with the JET program, an academic year at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities in Hikone, and two years in my current position.

I was curious how long it took you to learn Japanese...

I studied informally in my spare time before I first joined the JET program. I concentrated on reading and listening. After my initial two years in Japan, I could read novels without too much difficulty.

I'm guessing your fluent?

That depends on how you define "fluent." I can read books such as novels, cookbooks, computer software manuals, and so on...but newspapers give me trouble in some areas because I never bothered learning political/economic vocabulary. My listening comprehension is relatively high from watching television, and I can compose fairly well, but I can't actually write without a computer (to convert the characters to kanji) and I can't speak well on the spot because I only use English in my workplace.

In other words...I'm good at what I practice, but not at what I neglect.
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