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Amparo Bertram

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03:07 pm: Deck the tables with boughs of holly
On Sunday I went to the MINNA no Salon Christmas party. I was assigned to co-lead with another ALT in town. According to the original plan, we were going to bake gingerbread cookies, but it was later decided that baking would take too long. Instead, the activity was switched to the construction of "table trees." Participants were provided with those green styrofoam things used for flower arrangements plus a bunch of evergreen clippings that they would combine into miniature tree shapes. My job was to direct this process in English.

I brought several other things with me. First, I baked a batch of gingerbread/cranberry muffins. (There was supposed to be a maximum of 30 participants, and so I made exactly 30 muffins.) Then I made a simple (and non-alcoholic) egg nog for them to sample. (Hey, if there's any place not afraid of raw egg, it's Japan.) I brought my handmade set of Christmas-related vocabulary flash cards and printed up English and Japanese versions of "The 12 Days of Christmas" to take along just in case there was extra time.

Loaded with all this, I biked down to the party location. I was then informed that response was far greater than expected and there would be at least 40 people attending. (They wound up cutting all the muffins in half so that everyone could try some.) The "table tree" activity was quite a success. The instructions were simple enough that everyone could understand even in English, particularly since everyone was given a handout with example pictures, and the ALT and I were demonstrating at a table in the front of the room. It reminded me of when we used to make Christmas wreaths at the farm. Here's a picture of my finished tree.

The other ALT was supposed to have brought a game to play, but unfortunately she had spent the past couple days in the hospital with food poisoning and didn't have time to put something together. (Japan is suffering its worst Norovirus outbreak in 25 years, according to the news.) So we wound up using both my flashcards and the song. (I made sure to tell them that they at least had to sing the "five golden rings" line, even if they couldn't get any of the rest of the song.) The egg nog was a hit. I think the muffins went over well, but it was funny when I announced that they contained molasses and one of the children present shouted, "No, I don't need that!" <snicker>

Warcraft is also celebrating the holiday season with the Feast of Winter Veil. There are a number of special holiday touches in the game, such as snowballs and wrapping paper for presents and the ability to make your mount look like a reindeer. There is a device that, when you step in it, makes your character look like a gnome in a "Santa's helper" costume. Here's what it did to my dwarf priest, Hamashi.

Update:
Note: I'm not sure of the source for this recipe, since it's just handwritten on scrap paper. If I were to hazard a guess, I'd say it's probably from Nikki and David Goldbeck's cookbook. It's supposed to be cake, but I poured it into small muffin cups.

1/2 cup milk + 1/2 T vinegar
1 t baking soda
3/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1/8 t salt
1 t ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
2 cups flour
1/4 cup fruit (I used cranberry jelly)

Set oven to 350F and bake for 30-35 minutes (for cake). For muffins, I baked them about 25 minutes...but things take quite a bit longer to bake in a Japanese microwave/toaster/oven than in an American oven.

Comments

[User Picture]
From:firesign10
Date:December 19th, 2006 01:16 pm (UTC)
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That is too funny (holiday WoW) - your priest looks adorable! LOL!

Gingerbread/cranberry muffins sound really yummy! Care to share the recipe? (And I don't know about pumpkin accessibility there, but I just posted a truly awesome pumpkin muffin recipe yesterday!)
[User Picture]
From:sara_tanaquil
Date:December 19th, 2006 03:54 pm (UTC)
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I am in awe of your teacher preparedness! It sounds like a lot of fun.

I'd love the gingerbread/cranberry muffin recipe, too.
[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:December 21st, 2006 09:57 pm (UTC)
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It sounds as though it would have been a lot of fun. I really like your table tree.

I would have loved to have heard them sing the 12 Days of Chrismas!^_^

You're going to have to teach me about the holiday things. Albert told me some of it. I'm looking forward to playing.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:December 22nd, 2006 12:43 am (UTC)
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You're going to have to teach me about the holiday things.

I already sent you some gingerbread cookies in the mail. We'll check your mailbox first thing.

Have you decided yet what pet you want? I'm sure we'll be able to get you to level 10.
[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:December 22nd, 2006 02:21 am (UTC)
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I'm still not sure about the pets. I forget which ones you recommended. Cortney and Al are recommending a bear because it is a good tank, holding back the bad guys and taking a lot of damage. They said a cat is good, too, because it can do a lot of damage, but it doesn't keep the bad guy away from me. Can you remind me what you told me?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:December 22nd, 2006 02:58 am (UTC)
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Cortney and Al are recommending a bear because it is a good tank, holding back the bad guys and taking a lot of damage.

A bear is definitely good. It takes a lot of damage, and another advantage is that it will eat anything, so you don't have to worry about finding special kinds of food for it.

The main disadvantage of a bear is that it can never learn any speed-enhancing skills, so it will always run slowly. This doesn't matter until you get past level 30 or so, however.

Another "tank" pet that many people like is a boar. It has the same advantages as a bear, and it can also learn a skill called "charge" that lets it charge the enemy quickly and do extra damage on the first hit.

They said a cat is good, too, because it can do a lot of damage, but it doesn't keep the bad guy away from me.

Cats are good when you want to do damage quickly. They don't have as much armor as "tanking" pets, so they die more easily. However, they also help you kill the enemy faster. So it's a toss-up...either you kill the enemy a bit slower with a bear, but the bear can withstand more damage, or you have a cat that can't take as much damage but kills the enemy faster, so it's not attacking for as long and not doing as much damage in the first place.

The drawback to a cat is that it has a limited diet. You will need to hunt or buy meat or fish for it, because that's all it will eat.

The advantage to a cat at higher levels is that it can learn a skill that makes it "stealth" (turn invisible). This skill is mainly useful when you fight other players so that your pet will surprise them. It can also learn a skill called "dash" that lets it sprint very fast for a few seconds to chase an enemy.

You can always change your pet later, if you want to. You have the potential to tame a total of three different pets, though you can only use one at a time. (The other two stay in a stable.) Even after you have three, you can abandon one at any time to tame something new.
[User Picture]
From:megory
Date:December 22nd, 2006 03:34 am (UTC)
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With you helping heal me, maybe I should start with a cat, then since it can learn the skills and help me more as I level up. If there are no horde around to kill me while I'm fishing, it's a nice relaxing thing to do. Is it a bad disadvantage that it's a fussy eater?

It's not fair for me to depend on your help, but I'd never make it on my own.

It would be really cool some day to be a higher level, I think.
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:December 22nd, 2006 08:05 am (UTC)
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If there are no horde around to kill me while I'm fishing, it's a nice relaxing thing to do.

^_^ It's not often that you get killed while fishing. You just happened to be really unlucky.

Is it a bad disadvantage that it's a fussy eater?

Not too much trouble. Especially at first, there's plenty of meat to feed it at low levels. It really only becomes a problem when you hit level 50 or so, and only two kinds of meat exist that will keep it happy. You just have to keep buying it from vendors.

It would be really cool some day to be a higher level, I think.

You can do it!
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