I was bored today at school (surprise surprise) so I researched phobias using Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge. Here are some interesting ones:

Ephebiphobia, Hebephobia — fear/dislike of teenagers;
Anthropomporphobia — fear or dislike of anthropomorphic traits;
Ailurophobia-- fear or dislike of cats;
Friggatriskaidekaphobia — fear of Friday the 13th (I like this one because the word contains "frigga");
Erythrophobia — pathological blushing (?!);
Luposlipaphobia — the fear of being pursued by timber wolves around a kitchen table while wearing socks on a newly-waxed floor (created by Gary Larson);
Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia — fear of long words;
Anatidaephobia — fear that somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you (also by Gary Larson);
Phobophobia — the fear of fear itself.

I just thought it was interesting. Does anyone out there actually have a phobia that I can make light of-- er, I mean, learn about?


written by Ruthie @ 3:56 AM   1 comments
Weird Al
In junior high school a few of my friends and I had an unhealthy obsession with Weird Al Yankovic. We thought his music was so hilarious and we'd memorize his songs and sing them on the playground. In high school I decided that Weird Al was stupid, but since I saw the video for his current single, "White and Nerdy," I have once again come to love Weird Al. What's not to love about him? He took an already stupid rap and made it awesomely funny by making about how a nerd. I watched his biography on VH1 once-- apparently he has a degree in architecture! And he really does play the accordion! Man, I want him to be my friend. So cool.


written by Ruthie @ 1:39 AM   0 comments
Fun Facts

The word for “green” has some kind of spiritual connotation in Japanese, so the traffic lights are red, yellow, and blue.

The mullet is a very popular hairstyle. For men and women.

Blood type has special significance in matchmaking for the Japanese. Type As are nervous, aggressive people. Type Bs are more easy-going. Type Os are “strange,” according to my students.

Kanji (characters borrowed from Chinese) do not have only one sound. The sound changes depending on the context. For example, the kanji for “person” (人) sounds like “hi-to” when alone. Next to other characters, though, it changes to “jin.” So the translation of the word “foreigner” (外国人) sounds like “gai-koku-jin.”

There are vending machines EVERYWHERE! By everywhere I mean one about every 50 feet-- no joke. The crazy thing is that it is a social taboo to drink a soda or something while walking around in public.

Sometimes when Japanese students are nervous, they will draw the character for “person” (人) on their hand with their finger three times, then pretend to swallow the characters from their hand. No joke. Shiori's mom told me this. She saw a student at the speech contest do it.

P.S. This update is just so Aubrey can procrastinate a little more. Here's to you, Backdoorpheusophyll.


written by Ruthie @ 6:58 AM   1 comments
Speech Contest

On Tuesday two of my junior high school students participated in the 52nd English Recitation Oratorical Contest. In the oratorical category, students present a speech they wrote. Many students presented speeches about not giving up and succeeding in their dreams (gambate!). In the recitation category, students recite a short story. There were stories featuring Buddha, Stevie Wonder, E.T., and Hellen Keller, among others. Sayaka (left) placed first in the oratorical category, which means she will go on to the prefectural speech contest in November. Shiori (right) placed fourth in the oratorical category. I was so proud of both of them. These girls worked super hard for the last couple of weeks. They met with all three of us English teachers, the Japanese English teachers, and some other Americans.

Although Shiori did very well in the competition, she cried after it was over. I tried to console her by telling her congratulations and that I was proud of her, but nothing I said could help her feel better. I think she felt like she let her teachers down because she didn't take the other prefectural spot. Based on what I have heard from Nick and Rachel, Japanese students can be fiercely competitive, and they often take an academic shortcoming as a very personal loss.

I was invited to go to the speech contest so I would see how the speech students are judged and what the competition involves, because next fall I will be coaching at least one student for the same competition. Whoopee. No seriously. I am excited about it, because I can work one-on-one with a student and get to know her more personally. Plus, the Japanese teachers can be very hard on their students, especially for a contest like this. They push the students to their breaking point, making them practice long hours after school ends, even when they sometimes have an hour commute home. If I am a coach for a speech student it may be possible for me to alleviate some of that stress-- show the student the brighter side of speech, maybe. Just maybe.
written by Ruthie @ 8:11 AM   1 comments
To my beautiful, beautiful friends at NWC,

Thank you Lindsay, Tracey, Melissa, Candi, Sarah, Jill, Lisa, Abigail, Rachel, Jenna, Larissa, Alicia, Kathleen, Betsy, LauraBeth, Dr. Holm, and Aubrey! I received your package this evening and was so filled with joy. I cried and cried as I read through the letters and cards (Good thing the package was stuffed with paper towels). Thank you for your thought and time and creativity. I am already thinking of how I can display these love notes!! I appreciate your kindness so much!

I will write an email soon, and I will be sure to write a personal note to all of you who wrote me a personal note. Special thanks to my beloved roommate for sending it off. I love you all so very much!

In other news, there is a typhoon coming in this weekend (probably Sunday and Monday). Apparently a typhoon is just an Asian hurricane, but still-- a hurricane is a big deal, so please keep me in your prayers as I really don't know what to expect. I'll be sure to write next week so you know I'm still alive.
written by Ruthie @ 8:44 AM   1 comments

Things I ate last night:
raw salmon
blowfish (and I survived)
natto (fermented soybeans)
cheesecake (and I survived)

We went to kaitensushi last night. Kaitensushi is a special sushi restaurant where the sushi is prepared fresh and placed on a conveyor belt that snakes around all the tables of the restaurant. Patrons can either grab a dish off the belt or they can order something from a menu. The patron can determine the price of the dish based on the color or pattern of the plate.

I was pretty freaked out at first, especially when I saw baby octupi and cooked fish heads go by on the conveyor belt. After that I told my friends not to tell me what I was eating until I swallowed it.

To my surprise, I liked the eel the best. Katie said eel is best eaten with a sweet soy sauce. The squid was tolerable, but the texture was not my favorite. It was pretty bland without wasabi or pickled ginger. The natto was disgusting. The salmon was quite good. The blowfish was alright. I think it would have been better if Katie hadn't put so much vinegar on it. The cheesecake was awesome, albeit not as good as mother's.

In the photo: raw blowfish, called fugu, is Shimonoseki's specialty.
written by Ruthie @ 10:58 PM   1 comments
English Club
When: yesterday after school
Where: the English Lounge at the high school
Who: Me, Nick (American English teacher), Masa (Japanese student teacher; speaks English), several giggly high school girls

We were discussing what the English club should do for Baikosai, the upcoming festival at the school. Every club and homeroom decides on an activity or homemade good to sell to parents and community members who attend the festival. The proceeds go to a charity organization. I suggested maybe a country-western theme, and we could teach line-dancing. Nick agreed and got up to demonstrate. The girls started to whisper and giggle to each other. Nick and I heard the word “sexy.” Immediately we were curious. “What? Who is sexy? Nick? For his line dancing?” Masa overheard them and said they were talking about how Nick’s legs were sexy. I snorted many times while laughing. After some discussion about what the word “sexy” meant and lots of awkwardness trying to explain it, we finally understood that the girls were talking about my legs. Apparently they saw me un-cross and re-cross my legs and noticed my pale, freckled, hairy legs and thought they were sexy. We told the girls we thought they had said that Nick’s legs were sexy. They snorted many times while laughing. Then Nick told me that white skin is seen as very beautiful here. I told him that was something to write home about. Masa was very embarrassed.
written by Ruthie @ 6:45 AM   3 comments
Daily Life
I am at school. And I am bored.

The three of us English teachers usually teach two classes a day, average. The rest of the day we are preparing for subsequent classes, surfing the web, napping, or, if we're really efficient, cleaning.

I got my physical done today. The school required that I have a chest x-ray and a general physical to check for TB. The physical consisted of a height/weight measurement, a short eye exam, and a doctor listening to my heart (is there a technical term for this?). The x-ray was interesting: I had to take off everything from the waist up, put on a hospital gown, stand in front of a metal plate, breathe deeply, and hope I wasn't getting too much radiation.

It's so friggin' hot here. One of the first words I learned was "mushiatsui"- muggy. Nick, Rachel and I walk to school around 7:30 every morning. By the time we reach the school at around 8:00, I am dripping with sweat. Rachel says it won't get cool until October, and then it gets really cold pretty quickly. Yay.

Apparently we were pretty close to getting hit by a typhoon yesterday (side note: the only difference between a typhoon and a hurricane is which side of the international date line its on). Even though the typhoon was so close to us, we really haven't had that much rain. I was surprised.
written by Ruthie @ 2:02 AM   1 comments

Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
read more