The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Students, Teaching, and Random Observations

Students: My kids are mostly a lot smarter than me. Well, if not smarter, a lot more disciplined. They can't speak English very well, but they sure can do science. I asked two of them to explain their research to me. The first one was an evolutionary biologist using computational methods to study DNA in humans and chimpanzees in an attempt to date the point when we diverged from a common ancestor (8 million years ago, he says). The second was a biochemist who was using metallic catalysts to synthesize pharmaceutical precursors with new amino acid combinations. Wow. My reply: "Well, I teach English."

Teaching: I just got observed by the staff of the teaching company I work for. I guess they want to observe us once in a while to make sure that (despite the screening and training) they haven't got any dud teachers on their staff. I got a lot of compliments from the observers. Apparently, my lesson was perfect! Gosh, I'm good.

Random Observations:

The phantom cell phone. You're sitting on a train with your cell phone set to "vibrate" mode. Suddenly, you have the distinct sensation of something vibrating in your pocket. Someone is calling! You reach into your pocket, only to discover that your phone isn't there at all!! Eeeeeeerie.

Japanese television is really, really awful. The more I speak Japanese the less interesting the television shows get. The same goes for advertising on the train now that I can read a little bit. For example, this morning I saw a billboard for a chocolate almond candy with the face of a famous Japanese TV star. They're paying millions for his face, so you'd think the caption would be pretty memorable and witty, right? How about, "I want to eat Lotte chocolate almonds with you." And somebody got paid to write that....?

We're in that awkward period where any rational person would say it's hot, but Japanese people think it's still cool, so they don't turn on the air conditioning on the train. It's somewhere around 30 degrees so I've got beads of sweat pouring off of me, but I'm surrounded by cool-looking Japanese in suits. I'll have to wait until July before they think it's hot enough to turn on the AC, but by then it will be over 35.


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