Winter holiday is here, and I’m in Japan! 4

Japan greeted me with category 3 tremblor. Arigato! (Image via Japan Meteorological Agency)


TOKYO, JAPAN — This year’s winter escapade is not to a warm, sunny location like Malaysia, but to the more wintry Japan — a joint effort by my son and me.

He had some comp time available, and wanted to visit me in Jishou, but as I had planned to travel outside China during the Spring Festival, we settled on two weeks in Japan.

Fun fact: this year, the Chinese New Year falls on my birthday. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which day that is.

I gave my exams on Dec. 30, and spent the rest of the week reading them and calculating grades for my 150 students. I discovered two disturbing things: at least two of my sophomores had cheated on their exam and hardly any of the sophs had improved their listening comprehension marks over the last three terms.

The cheaters flunked their exams, and the term. They will need to take a new test next term. I also get to read their classmates the riot act, as I suspect those two were just the unlucky ones who got caught.

The sophomores’ failure to improve their skills much since they were freshmen is a bigger challenge, and not just for them. Clearly, I have to revise my teaching strategy, and assessments, to encourage their improvement.

But for the time being, I am in relaxation mode.

The day after I handed in my grades, I was on the bus to Changsha, and the next morning, the bullet train to Shenzhen, where I crossed by foot into Hong Kong.

[The bullet train now stops at Futian station, just one subway stop away from the border crossing at Futian Checkpoint. That saves some time schlepping cross-town on the Shenzhen Metro line 4.]

After I read a BBC article about an eatery called Little Bao, I decided it would be one of my must-do items, so I had dinner there Wednesday evening.

It is a tiny hole-in-the-wall place, like a New York City diner. It opens at 6 pm, and there were already a half-dozen people waiting when I showed up at 5:55 pm.

Little Bao serves a East-West fusion hamburger. Do not expect something the size of a Whopper, but expect some very tasty food. I had the tempura fish bao and the green tea ice cream bao. (A photo of the ice cream is here. My phone’s battery died, so no pix from me yet.) And I shared the truffle sauce fries with a new friend, James Li of Hong Kong, and his buddy, Daniel from New Zealand. We quaffed Japanese micro-brews.

Anywho, I arrived in Tokyo the next evening. This afternoon, while I was trying to plan out my day, I felt the house where I am staying go wiggle-wiggle. It felt like I was sitting in a house of rubber.

And sure enough, it was a tremblor. No biggie. Just one of those things local people are very used to, and visitors are like “Whoa! Was that an earthquake?”

By the way, in case you’re worried, little ones release pressure — much better than waiting until there’s a major whoop-ass quake, which I’d rather skip, tyvm. No harm done.

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As an aside, I forgot to bring my transfer cable for my camera, and my little Windows 10 tablet does not have an SD card slot, so I can’t supply any photos this time. Sorry.


Also published on Medium.

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4 thoughts on “Winter holiday is here, and I’m in Japan!

  1. Reply Joanne Mengel Jan 13,2017 9:44 pm

    ‘LOVE your writing style–Wheat-dogg obviously is a great English teacher as well as a physics prof. . . and a gifted photographer–AND a fantastic FATHER!

  2. Reply eljefe Jan 14,2017 9:05 am

    As the Chinese say, “Nali nali” (哪里哪里 = Not at all, Who me?)

  3. Reply Sam L Jan 17,2017 12:29 pm

    We need more articulate, knowledgeable, and patient teachers like WheatDogg, especially in core science courses like Physics that are, alas, far too often shittily taught in our schools, where any frustrated students who do not immediately master both the concepts and math are branded as an idiot, a slacker, or just some kind of rebel. Physics is a fascinating discipline that affects everyone and everything in the universe (at least the one we’re aware of), and we’re committing a disservice to future generations by not nurturing the curiosity and different abilities of young students of all stripes of life. WheatDogg’s style of teaching is a positive resistence to this trend, and he and others like him should be supported. He was the only science teacher at my High School that did any demonstrations at all and was the only one who could inspire interest in a topic most High Schoolers either deem as boring or ‘just too hard’, reserved only to the stereotypical nerd. If it weren’t for him, my best friend from high school probably wouldn’t have majored in Physics at an Ivy League, and I would definitely have a far weaker understanding of the natural laws that govern our bodies, minds, and universe. So basically… thanks! I predict you’ll continue to receive this kind of gratitude from more students you’ve taught ’round the globe. Enjoy Japan and all its splendor, but don’t let the Pacific plate get you all shaken up xD!

  4. Reply eljefe Feb 2,2017 9:57 am

    Thank you, Sam. Though I have left the physics teaching world, I still enjoy the subject and playing with all the “toys” in the storage closet.

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