2007 JET Podcast
Some helpful hints from folks already on the JET Programme. It covers all of those very specific things that you really need to know but may have forgotten to ask or that you just couldn't find answers to. Click here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

In Charleston with Daddy

The current sidebar slideshow is dedicated to the trip. We had a really good time. Went to the Battery, Sullivan's Island beach, and by the neighborhood my dad lived in when he was a young man.

Despite the fact that it only takes about 2 hours to get there, we rarely go anymore. We said a long time ago that we would go more often, but we never do. I could see going to Charleston like once a month or something, but, alas, I'm going to Japan (and then after that, the West coast) so I guess that's one thing we should have done more often but didn't.

Anyway, I was super tired when we got back. We did a lot of walking on the beach, went to the slave market, and had some 'okay' seafood at a place called RB's.

Left at around 11:30 AM and got back at around 9:30 PM

Friday, May 18, 2007


Yep. That's where I'll be for an entire year of my life. It's exactly OPPOSITE of any of the places I requested in my JET application, but hey, it could be worst. I could be an alternate...or just a flat out rejection.

Emails came about two days ago and I was all psyched when I saw mine in the inbox. It was such a let down to be saying "no" to sunny Japan and "hello" to snowstorm Japan. That really is the only thing I'm holding against the North. The cold and the snow.

But then I calmed down. I did some reading. I scoured the BD and ITIL message boards for Hokkaido JETs and their opinions and now I'm very cool with my placement. At least I'll be able to learn how to snowboard in one of the best regions in the world for it. And, it has onsens galore apparently and they have nice views of rivers and mountains. Very cool.

Hokkaido, for those who don't know, is the most northerly island of Japan. Its very northern part is very close to Russia. It has mild, dry summers and cold, snowy winters. It is connected to the prefecture of Honshu by an underwater tunnel. It's capital city is Sapporo (yes, the beer).

This is what it looks like from space.

While some of the other people I've talked to have found out exactly WHERE in this large prefecture they will be placed, I have been designated a prefectural JET which basically means that I will be teaching a high school possibly in one of the big cities or a town. While some prefectural JETs find out specifics about their placement only weeks after being notified, I have heard horror stories of people who didn't know where they would be until a week or two before they got on the plane to Tokyo. Yikes! Hope that doesn't happen to me.

The prefectural Board of Education oversees all of the high schools in the region and will be distributing JETs however they see fit. I hope I get placed in or around Hakodate, a large city in the south of Hokkaido. Sapporo would be cool too though.

If you want more info on my placement, visit here.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Selling My Car On Ebay

...or wherever I can get rid of it. Since I'll be in Japan in for a year, I really don't see the point in continuing to pay for it and insurance when I'm not driving.

My dad suggested that I try selling it in the Carolina Trader or on Ebay.

I've seen some pretty good cars go for good money on Ebay, so I will first give that a try.

If any of yous want to purchase it, then you can have first dibs. The Ebay listing won't go up until around June because I still need transportation to and from work for a while.

I take really good care of my car and have the maintenance history for anyone who wants to see. I try to wash it about every 2 weeks and wax it once a month. The interior is black leather with heated seats, in-dash CD player with steering wheel controls, and a moon/sun roof. I don't smoke so, it still smells like a new car despite being a 2001. New tires on the front, brand new windshield (old one was cracked by a rock or something), will have brand new tires on back.

It really is a great car and I'm kind of sad to have to give it up.

It's a Volkswagen Jetta by the way.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Professional Re-framing

Nope, I'm not talking about getting a new gilded frame for the giant picture of your grandmother or anything.

I'm talking about people whose sole job it seems is to re-frame important issues to prove themselves right.

Don't get me wrong. I've argued with folks like this before. Heck, I've even done my own re-framing to skew a debate into my corner, but never to extent and disservice or on the scale that these professionals work.

Person in point: Rush Limbaugh.

Of course.

I don't actually listen to him, but the past few days of scanning the radio, I've passed over the EIB network and was fascinated to actually hear the person that so many of the people I know talk so negatively about.

From what I can tell, Mr. Limbaugh has a pretty stable mode of operation.

He takes an issue (usually a pretty scandalous one where everyone and their mother will have an opinion), he re-frames the debate so that his side (usually the Right) looks sane and the other side (usually the Left) looks crazy, he cracks a few jokes, calls himself a god, then calls it a day.

Every time I've listened to him, it has been the same thing. Maybe you're out there saying, "well duh, why are you surprised?"

Well, maybe I'm naive. I actually expected the man to be, at least, genuine in his arguments. I thought, naively, that he just argued for the side my friends weren't on and that's why they don't like him. Not so apparently.

They don't like him because, not only his he wrong, but he's slick enough to know he's wrong but employs re-framing to look like he's right (and smart).

Don't believe me?

Just today, Mr. Limbaugh re-frames the debate on global warming as such: the liberals (whom for whatever reason can ONLY be Godless heathens) are saying that the Earth's weather has a sinister political agenda.

I can't recall an instance where a serious climatologist has made this statement or even insinuated it. I can't remember when ANYONE has made this claim.

To go further, Mr. Limbaugh even insinuates, if not out right says, that somehow the "stupid liberals", when they argue that the climate is changing in part because of our wastefulness, are saying that tornadoes and hurricanes somehow never happened on a magnanimous scale; that "the liberals" are dumbly saying that natural disasters and hotter temperatures are this surprising phenomena that falls on the sole shoulders of the human population.

If you're a liberal who's concerned about global warming, are you saying that? Is that really your debate? Was that ever the debate?

I didn't think so.

He used as his example of the mass hysteria of all liberals, a hodgepodge mess of clips from various nondescript local and national news programs, particularly their weather segments where some meteorologist is trying to convey the oddness (and possible worry) of subtropical storm Andrea's arrival before the official hurricane season.

Now, I'm not saying that Mr. Limbaugh's characterization of the "drive-by media" (his words) isn't warranted. The MSM has a penchant for taking complex issues, busting them down into their simplest form, and generalizing everything, hoping for better ratings. Plus, they're owned by corporations that expect measurable results and therefore, they are sensational by necessity.

But, I ask, what does the MSM's sensationalization have to do with an everyday politically liberal person who is concerned about global warming? Oh, you guessed it, absolutely nothing. How is that his proof? Plus, how is concern by a meteorologist about the early arrival of a subtropical storm any indication of anything except worry about the early arrival of a subtropical storm?

None of those clips had the meteorologist say, "...and this is because of global warming." These weather people did one thing, their jobs. They looked at previous recorded storms and their times of arrival and said, "hey, this storm is earlier than the majority of storms of this magnitude."

Praytell, they make OBSERVATIONS about the subject of their jobs!

Anyway, none of this really matters. It's just an observation I made when I switched over to the EIB because NPR was playing classical and I only really like radio that talks.

The thing that interests me about this professional re-framing racket is why.

Why would Mr. Limbaugh argue this way? Why would anybody listen and believe him? His logic obviously grasps at straws, making connections where there aren't any, generalizing to a gross degree, taking headlines and sensationalism and attributing it as some sort of credible proof that he is right.

I don't listen to Mr. Limbaugh often. He's not my cup of tea. But from what I have heard of him (about 2 or 3 shows worth), he seems to be a little low on facts and a very full on vague notions. But, why, when I can see it and many others can see it, do people still adamantly listen to him and turn around to reiterate his notions to others?

Because, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Limbaugh offers a selfish man's dream. If you don't acknowledge that your (the human population's) wastefulness is negatively affecting the environment, then you don't have to change your actions. You're not responsible. You can drive your giant SUV, you can have your electricity without wondering what it's costing the planet, and instead of devoting public funds to solving a very real problem, you can have your tax break.

Who wouldn't want to buy into Mr. Limbaugh's plan? It's the easiest choice.

I like to give people the benefit of the doubt in most cases. Maybe they don't have access to libraries or other forms of information. It's possible.

Or, sadly and scarily, maybe people really are that ignorant. Maybe they don't realize when someone is re-framing a debate in order to make their opponents look bad -- not by winning the debate and proving them wrong like a fair and balanced argument would work, but by aligning their opponents with ludicrous ideas and forcing them to argue for them.

It's like those who say if you refuse to fund the President's troop surge, you are against the troops. Quite obviously if you refuse to fund the surge, you're against the idea and implementation of the surge. A professional re-framer would not acknowledge that the President could just not have the surge, that he could rethink his strategy, that he could come up with new ideas about how to extricate the US from this terrible civil war brought on, in no small part, by the US.

A professional re-framer wouldn't acknowledge such an issue as the clash of ideas and stubborness that it is.

No, a professional re-framer would only shape the rules as "us against them" with no in-between.

Sadly, not only do they make a living off of doing this, but their media reach is often so far that their professional re-framing misinforms an already uninformed populace.

But I can't blame Mr. Limbaugh for misleading the people really. He's just doing what he does best. He's earning his money. You can't blame a man for that.

I can only fault an ignorant populace who have no concept of logic, who refuse to do research for themselves. These are the broadest targets of a sports-like opinion market. These are those who are most easily swayed into an "us against them" mentality. Rooted in fear, backed up by lack of knowledge. I don't think there's any more potent a combination than that.

So I can only say...educate yourselves...better yet folks, educate your children. Teach them not to accept ignorance as a state of mind. Because then it wouldn't matter if they're listening to Rush or to any other political pundit, right or left. They'll have enough wherewithal to recognize a re-frame artist when they hear them.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

FBI Background Check Form Arrived

I am not a criminal.


Atlanta JET Hotel Reservations

It's a good thing I already made mine.

Atlanta JET puts everyone up in some (unknown) hotel for the night of the 27th (possibly the 26th as well) because (a) they require everyone who interviewed at the Atlanta consulate to depart from Atlanta's hub and (b) they require everyone to attend the pre-departure orientation the day before we fly to Tokyo.

But now, they're saying that they're running out of reservations. I find that amazing, since only the people who are from out of town are supposed to be reserving. I'm coming from SC. I find it a little hard to believe that THAT many of the interviewees (and subsequent shortlisters) are from outside of Atlanta.

Well, maybe many of them are coming from remote places in Georgia.


Anyway, I'm glad I made my reservation early.

I might not even be using it though. I have family in Atlanta and I think I would rather stay with them than with a complete stranger in a hotel room. That means one more out-of-town person can reserve.


Yes. I have joined the technological revolution that takes telephony from the hands of the evil cell phone and telephone giants and puts it into the hands of the consumer.

I had my doubts about Skype. Who wouldn't, really? It's supposedly free (sarcasm) and I've found that anything that's free is free for a (usually bad) reason. But, after trying to figure out different ways in which I might call back home from Japan for as cheaply as possible, I decided it couldn't hurt to at least try out the service.

The software is free. You download it to your computer and install. Took me about 5 minutes, but I also have the slowest affordable DSL that Bellsouth (now AT&T) offers. The install was very simple and, after a few minutes of putting in information, I had my very own Skype name.

It's, tiffinjapan, by the way. Duh.

Because I don't really voice chat over the internets, I didn't have one of those handy-dandy headsets. But I did have a microphone. So, I plugged that in.

I remembered suddenly that I didn't really know anyone else who had Skype, so I had no one to call. Not to mention, that they might not have even been online at the time. But my main reason for getting it had been for the cheap calls to landlines and cell phones, so having no Skype friends didn't matter at the moment.

I saw that I had been credited 14 cents for free to make SkypeOut calls and so I called my mom's cell phone. She had taken a day off work and was downstairs. To my surprise, the call went through...

...as an unrecognizable number. So, she didn't pick up.

I told her it was me calling and called a second time. She picked up and surprisingly, it worked.

The voice came through on my speakers (no headset) and was as clear as ever. My mom said my voice was also clear.

I was impressed.

I next called my girlfriend on her cell phone. It also worked then. What sort of witchcraft is this SKYPE???

It's been less than a day since I installed it and already I've talked for 20 minutes. I purchased $10 worth of Skype credits today and I still have more than 900 talking minutes left. that's better than a cell phone contract deal!

Maybe free isn't so terrible. Expect updates. There are more, even better features for this service to be had.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Facial Expressions


Why do we make them?

More importantly, why do we make them in private? Like smiles or frowns.

We could very well be happy or sad or upset without smiling or frowning. But we do it. Most of us do it.

If I stub my toe in the shower, there is no need for me to frown, because a frown is just a communication to others that I am unhappy with something. In the shower, I am alone (supposedly), so why do I need to communicate my unhappiness?

I was just curious about this. Perhaps it's just practice for future person-to-person communication. Perhaps it's just habit.