Random feedback to Nanzan University students

November 9, 1998 copy/pasted without explanation, other than I saved this and many other documents.

Student name: Norie
This has happened to me so many times. I dream that I am trying to wake up, but I can’t do it. So I try harder. Finally, I succeed in my dream, and then I really wake up, too! It’s quite amazing.

I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I have tried green tea ice cream and I don’t like it. The combination doesn’t suit me. I guess this is just a typical matter of not growing up with the taste and not able to fully appreciate it.

I wonder if this is the age. When I was a university student, I saw a lot of concerts. I was lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, so all the very biggest bands came to town to play, and I had a large choice of concerts. However, in every case, I always felt the same way as you felt at your concert. It’s an interesting phenomenon.

If you are interested in understanding your dreams, I suggest you read a little bit of Carl Jung, the psychologist, and, I suppose, Sigmund Freud, too. Jung said that our subconscious was trying to communicate with us through dreams. He wrote a lot of interesting books on the subject, and I’ve peeked at one or two of them.

Norie, Nice job here. Please keep up your pace. You are moving along very nicely at this rate.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Maho
Sukiyaki – It’s so interesting that you should study the history of this strange song. I grew up with it, and later became embarrassed to know the title expresses the complete ignorance of Japan by the American people. It is still the only Japanese pop song that has ever been popular in the U.S. Seiko Matsuda is well known in the U.S. for her failures to break into the market there. It certainly is a strange musical relationship between our two countries.
I think that men, in general, never really grow up past a child’s age (myself included…YES). We are stuck as mental children. Women, on the other hand, are more rational and have the emotional strength that you say you lack. I would bet that you DO have that strength, but that you are being modest.

It sounds like drinking this drink will simply spoil your appetite, in which case, it is most likely a very effective drink. Just reading about it made me lose my appetite. HA HA!
It is interesting that most things in life need some kind of license or certificate, like driving, or getting a job with a good company. But parenting: well, no one needs anything special to have a kid, and I’ve seen too many bad parents out there. I think, though, that since you express concern here, that you’ll grow into being a very good mom, so I would say, don’t worry about it so much.

Maho, You’ve done a nice job of writing to a variety of topics. I hope to see you go more in depth with some of the topics you have written about. It would not hurt to pursue one line of thought over several days writing. I would also suggest you re-read some of your work after a few days, and then do some re-writing, again, going more in-depth. Good luck.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Yoko
Drinking? Smoking? Well, it’s not a surprise. I think people are doing things at a younger and younger age. My question for you is, what will you do when your son/daughter starts drinking/smoking at, say, age 15 or so? How will you react to that??

I admit that I do not vote in American elections. I voted only once, back in 1980, when I had just turned 19. Now, I’m just very cynical about politics. I don’t see any good coming from any of it. Japan’s corruption is no worse that many many other countries.

Thank you for being honest here. I hope that you’ll keep your habit, though…that is…the habit of writing often. It is definitely a tough habit to keep, but I think it’s very worth your time and energy, as you’ll have a wonderful record of your student life and times that you can look back at.

Perhaps this is where you feel you are now. Yeah…hesitant to be an adult, not wanting to give up on youth…

I am jealous of you. My mother has expressed great regret that she did not give ALL her children piano lessons. Our daughter will get lessons, and we hope that she won’t quit at an early age. I understand your wanting to quit, though. Just like any habit, it is hard to maintain for a long time.

Yoko, Great job here. You’ve written a lot, and you certainly covered a wide variety of topics to some depth. I hope that you’ll work over the span of a few weeks going in depth with some of these topics, perhaps even using some of the material for one of your essays? It’s up to you.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Masako
My commute to Nanzan is very flexible. These days, I’m trying to bicycle as often as possible. If I can’t bicycle, like when it rains, then I do the subway to Motoyama and bus up past Nagoya University. Did you know that in the B3 of the building with my office there is a very large parking lot? It can hold at least 50 cars, but it is always empty. WHY? I have no idea.

Isn’t it sad to see the great crafts of Japan dying out to modern times? They become more expensive to make, and so sell fewer, and so the craftspeople don’t pass down their knowledge. This is happening all over the world, I’m afraid, but there is really nothing we can do about this.

If you visit me in my office, I’ll tell you some stories of when I lived in Kenya. I would spend HOURS looking at the heavens. It was one of the most incredible experiences I can ever remember. There are very few places on Earth left where you can do this without light pollution. This is one thing I really dislike about living in Nagoya. The light pollution here is the worst of anywhere I know and I’m sad for my daughter, who cannot imagine what the beautiful night looks like.

Actually, I think the most ideal form of exchange is where you can speak Japanese, and I can understand you and respond in English and you can understand and respond in Japanese and so forth.

Masako, You’ve done a good job here. I have a sense you are getting LESS prolific as you write. I hope to see the trend go the other way, where you become MORE prolific.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Masao
Welcome to the American dream, Masao. These ‘infomercials’ as they are called, are made for those popcorn eating, coke drinking, low-self esteem folks who stay up very late at night with nothing better to do than watch the things. They sell a lot of junk in the U.S. like this these days. It’s a bit sad, really, isn’t it?

I find this hard to believe. When you respect someone, it gives you a purpose in life. You want to emulate, to some extent, that person you respect. I don’t know, maybe I am too much of a dreamer with this belief, but I believe it nonetheless.

I had a talk with my sister recently. She turned 40 not too long ago, has been married about 15 years, and has two kids and a pretty good job as a legal secretary in San Francisco. “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up,” she said to me. Go figure.
Ha ha! Such great wisdom! But you know what? This isn’t true only for kids. It’s true for adults, too. It just never stops. Well, anyway, this is another thing that keeps us going and gives us purpose in our lives.

Masao, I’m a bit surprised. I guess I expect you to be a prolific and thoughtful writer, but I feel as if you are not making the efforts to at least try. You are merely going through the motions. I wonder if you might try to pursue a single topic for two or three weeks, letting your thoughts simmer for awhile before continuing on. I have this hunch that deep down, you can do it.
Your grade for this check: B

Student name: Shoko
So, which order were you hoping to have the children, or is that not important. I wonder why you think about this at such an early age. Do you talk to your friends about these topics, too? Is everyone worried about the type of parents they will become?

Oh, I don’t know if you told me this before…that you were from Hakodate. My wife is also from there. We visited there in July/August. What a great town, I really liked it and would like a chance to live there. Well, I doubt I’ll be able to anyway. Actually, I hate winter and I understand it has already snowed there. My wife wants to know which Primary, Junior High and High Schools you went to. Please email me if you get the time.
I worked for my grandfather’s construction company. It was similar to your factory job. Hard work, long hours, kind of boring at times, but I was very happy to get money at the end. I guess it built up my character too.

I’m always surprised that Japanese university students don’t share apartment rooms, like we do in the U.S. It’s so common there and so very rare here. In fact, I don’t know anyone here who does that. Why not? Can you explain this to me?

Shoko, Thanks for taking the time to keep your journal entries. You’ve covered a lot of ground here and I look forward to future installments.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Daisuke
Well, you aren’t wasting time. If you think that, then EVERYTHING is a waste of time. I don’t think this is a healthy attitude. Why? Because I felt the same way at one point in life. Then I realized that it was ME who was wasting the time, not the things other people did, including teachers and their assignments. It took me awhile, but I understood that I had plenty of opportunities in life, and that I had control of where I was going. This was an important understanding that really turned around my life. I hope you get this understanding too, someday soon!

It sounds like the swimmer was at the wrong place at the wrong time. The old woman perhaps had been struggling out on the water for a few days when he passed by, and then held onto him for life, with dire consequences for both. Hmmmm.

Daisuke, I think I’ve mentioned that you can go into depth with some things. I hope to see more of this next time.
Your grade for this check: B

Student name: Takuya
Luck! HA HA! I think you are right. No matter how much you know, there is still so much that you don’t know, so that betting on horses is never a sure thing. I went to the track in Hakodate this summer, and I was lucky enough to win about 10,000 yen. I was happy that I didn’t lose anything more than that I won something.
Gambling. I love it, but I try to avoid doing it whenever I can. I even went to Las Vegas once, but with a good friend who got me away from the city very quickly. I started putting money in the slot machines. Ooh!

UGH! This class is the most difficult for me. I’m always behind on reading marking. There are too many students and I can’t do as good a job as I would like. In addition to all my other classes. I never worked this hard as a student. NEVER.

Better to buy a lot of happy. Happy, however, comes in different forms for different people, but I think it’s actually very tough to buy.

Takuya, if you’d like me to teach you how to bet at poker, ask. I learned from a professional when I was 14 years old. Now THAT was real gambling. Anyway, it’s a pleasure to read about your gambling (and other) experiences and I look forward to more next time.
Your grade for this check: A

Student name: Michiko
40 days? It will go by very fast. You’ll miss Japanese food first, and you’ll miss your family, but you will adjust and have a great time. 40 days is very short. It will seem like a week when it’s over. It will also be an unforgettable experience.

Well, think about what you like to do. Think about what you spend most of your time doing and pursue that as a profession.

Michiko, you have got to try to discipline yourself more to write more. There is so little here I can comment on.
Your grade for this check: C

Student name: Kyoko
I have mixed feelings about this. The fact is: most cultures are dying out as we move toward one mass culture. At the same time, no culture can be completely dead if even one of it’s people is alive. Well, anyway, it is sad that this is happening. I’ve seen a lot of it in the world. At the same time, dead cultures and languages can and have been revived, so there is hope yet.

When will we grow out of prejudices like these you report? I don’t know if it is possible. But then again, today I read in the newspaper about the South African truth commission. Here is a country that is healing the wounds of a terrible war and a terrible century of division and hatred. The article also gave me hope that we can grow out of prejudices, but that it’s not an easy road.

Men must be beasts? Of course we are. Does this surprise you? HA HA!

Don’t EVER lose your friends. For me, they are more important than family. They give me perspective on my life; they give me support through hard times; they give me encouragement and love…I have a lot of very special friends that I am so thankful for.
Sure. All the time. I don’t think there is any other job quite like teaching. I just wish it paid more. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (Typical American Joke).

Well, it’s a nice sentiment anyway, but unfortunately, there is still a lot of inequality in the world. What will you, as a Japanese woman, do to fight your lower status in this society? Or do you believe that you don’t have lower status?

Kyoko, What can I say? You are a consistent writer, you are thoughtful and your ideas are well-developed. I look forward to more of the same.
Your grade for this check: A+

Student name: Kaori
I’m glad to see that you have learned about Billie Holiday. Her life was tragic. I really love her music and her voice. In fact, these days, I don’t listen to Rock as much as Jazz. My musical tastes have changed and the music has become more important than the words.
I am familiar with her, though I admit that I have not read her work. I have studied the French poets of the late 19th century, called the Symbolists, but Sagan came well after them.

It sounds like in either case, you have an open relationship with your mother and that is important. You are lucky that you can discuss such issues in a rational way, and also that you try to see each others’ point of view. Might I suggest that you also try to see additional points of view, for example, a boyfriend’s view of the situation. Friends of your boyfriend, friends of yours, friends of your mother. Considering many different points of view is definitely advantageous.

It’s difficult to give advice for this. LL is made to be very difficult, and it’s a very high pressure test. It helps if you can learn to eliminate some of the test answers, reading ahead in the test if you can, and not second guessing your hunches.

My last grandparent died when I was in Kenya, so I didn’t see her. The last time I saw her, her mind was going. I kind of regret not being able to say the sentiment you express here. Yes, we are lucky to have grandparents that love us and spoil us. I look forward to being a spoiling grandparent myself!

Yes, teaching is something that exhausts me, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. I think it’s a great profession, that is very difficult to do well. I still have so much to learn about how to do better. Any suggestions for me?

Kaori, You’ve done a great job here and I’m very happy with your work to date. Keep up the good work!
Your grade for this check: A+

Student name: Saeko
I had the experience of having to slaughter a chicken to eat. I had to cross its legs and wings, and take a knife to kill it, by cutting off its head. I can’t forget the experience. I felt sick and of course, couldn’t eat the chicken. I think if we all had to do this, there would be far more vegetarians on the earth. Of course, I still eat meat and chicken now. Hmmm. I agree however, with you, that experiences like these, though unpleasant, are necessary for us to appreciate life.

Prejudice. This is a very hard topic to tackle. It exists everywhere at all times. I feel it a lot in Japan, but I mostly ignore it if I can, and try to understand what causes the behavior. I’m even teaching a course here about it.

It’s interesting because the type of drama which you describe is very common in the world. Families torn apart by war, spending their lives living in different worlds and even some speaking different languages. What a tradegy. I can’t give you advice here. I wouldn’t know what I would do in the same situation.

I’ll have to disagree with your attitude. Of course you can’t do anything by yourself, so that is why you have to join together with others in order to promote change in your OWN society first. So, in Japan, what societies can you join that will actively address this problem and offer solutions?

Well, now, here is a difficult topic, too. I have read stories of sacrifice and selfishness. I’ve read very wonderful things and very terrible things. It’s all case-by-case.

So, I guess you might argue with those who call Japan a ‘safe’ country, as you’ve had an experience to prove otherwise. Anyway, it certainly is very frightening to have an experience like this. I’m sorry to read about your terrible experience.

Here is another myth about Japan: that all Japanese are the same. I’ve discovered an incredible variety of food, language (dialect), accent, manners and behavior in my travels around Japan. Cultural differences are very clear even inside Japan. YES!

Perhaps you’d like to become a hardened woman? I recently found a very interesting website. It’s made for American women who have no guilt about how strong they want to be. Even the title of the website ‘Heartless Bitches’ is a strong name. Take a look at http://www.heartless-bitches.com. I laughed at a lot of their stories, especially about men who bother them so much.

Saeko, You are a very serious writer, and you write a lot. More than most others. I’m happy about this of course, as I believe those who write a lot will more than likely be better writers. SO…
Your grade for this check: A+

Time Capsule: April 25, 2016

Oh, I found this is my ‘blog drafts’. Never published it, so here it is.

——–

Don’t know if an extended reflection posted on Facebook means anything, but it’s my #1 broadcast network where I can shove my opinions in people’s faces. At any rate, outside of posting on my blog, which sees an entry once in a purple moon, FB is the medium of choice.

OK, the niceties are out of the way. Seems to be a good time to put Prince’s death in perspective. since I’ve personally reached the acceptance stage of grief.

My generation grew up in the shadow of the 60s, a time in the US of great social upheaval, uncertainty, and horrible political assassinations from the Kennedys to King and Malcolm X. I ended up in the early 80s at UCLA, Los Angeles, which at the time was arguably the most important culturally alive place in the country, and at the dawn of the Reagan Era (that’s as political this posting will get – PROMISE!). I’m especially talking about the Punk Rock / New Wave / Ska scene, my circle of friends, and the stuff we did for fun. I feel ridiculously lucky to have been there at that time. I found and lost love. I found a solid set of friends. I found some cultural and artistic anchors in music connected in many ways to Punk.

At this moment, I actually have the longest head of hair (excepting the little bald spot on top, and the grey of course) I’ve ever had, but the second longest head of hair ended up in Jonathan Hodges’ 1970s Cadillac, the two of us driving down Santa Monica boulevard in that hideously large vomit green boat, with an 8 track of Prince’s first album blasting loudly “I wanna be your lover”. We were more than likely headed to downtown for some night drinks or eclectic food. Downtown LA was starting to develop an alternative night life scene, so naturally we were drawn to it. A lot of you remember the days at 850 Milwood (The apex of “The Toxins” era), or more especially 417 Pacific (and the days of the immortal “Sports/Leisure Den” where we all watched the Bears crush the Patriots in SuperBowl XX). That, and a host of other events in that house shaped many our lives, and again cemented some lifelong friendships. The music that drove us was led by Prince, Bowie, Roxy Music, Talking Heads, X, Dead Kennedys, the Minutemen (still in the denial stage for d boon btw)…and a ton of other bands (of course I’m listing my favs…sorry folks). In short, we came of age. We passed into this nuthouse called adulthood with great expectations, anticipation, and the thrill of independence and setting our paths. The art we took with us was seeded deep into our collective souls. What connected this art was knowing that our awkwardness was actually perfectly normal…that we weren’t really different or apart from the herd we thought we wanted to be in. I don’t know if this is too cliche or not, but these musicians were reassuring in that the points-of-view we were developing about the world…well, they saw it too. So, our musicians had affirmed what we were seeing, and could articulate it in ways unexpected and heretofore unimaginable. Damn it was exciting to experience. We could actually be OURSELVES!

So, on we trotted with life, assured that we were never going to die, and we’d take all this wisdom with us into forever. I read somewhere in the past week that the reason so many famous people are dying this year is because there are simply many more famous people in the world now, especially with how much more we are connected. So there’s that. But Bowie and Prince? Within four months of each other? While I can’t empathise with people who lose family members very close to each other (though my dad and his only brother died within three months of each other), the shock we’ve been through (or should I speak for myself) is just another reminder of fixing our values away from the material, and more toward our ridiculously humble relationship with each other, those who we know and love, and the universe itself, and this teeny tiny blue ball that 7 billion of us and counting call our home. I guess the best metaphor is that two walls protecting us from our own mortality have been breached this year, and we realize that, well, ok, we ARE mortal after all, so there’s that. It’s a thing. That thing is here and now, and is happening not just to the artists we love, but our parents, sometimes our siblings, sometimes our old school mates. We hate the fuck out of cancer, rightfully so.

But with each passing – celebrity or closer, life becomes surprisingly sweeter and more precious. We’ve hit the age where we understand it’s about doing what we love despite the circumstances, and realizing the power of the positive. Being thankful, being grateful, dancing when there’s no music, and looking at the world each day with intense awe, because, you know, it’s fucking awesome! “Because the world is round, it turns me on.” is still a good 1960s sentiment that has transcended generations. Facebook is addictive because, for our generation at least, it’s a huge daily reunion and celebration of who we are, and where we’ve decided to be on this roundly round Earth. We develop an even deeper appreciation of the art that informed us, and formed us, and we come to cherish all the moments we pass through.

It’s been a year of grief so far, music-wise, but also a year for us to recall what got us through those tough young high school and college times and made us who we are today. So, screw grief. Bowie and Prince and George Martin and Maurice White…and and and and…haven’t stopped us from being who we are. They’ll continue to assure us that we are damn near perfect who we are right now right up until it’s our turn to move on and rejoin the universe.

“And you may ask yourself
Am I right?...Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
MY GOD!...WHAT HAVE I DONE?” 
- David Byrne (note: David’s not dead yet)
“U’re so good
Baby there ain't nobody better (Ain't nobody better)
So u should
Never, ever go by the letter (Never ever)
U're so cool (Cool)
Everything u do is success
Make the rules (Rules)
Then break them all cuz u are the best” 
- Prince (Rest in Peace / Purple / Power / Partylikeits1999)

Two quotes from my 1996 website along with a good old irritating animated gif!

“Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to commercial interests is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation, or like giving the earth’s atmosphere to a company as a monopoly.”
–Marshal McLuhan, Understanding Media (1965)

“The English language has been the linear tongue of colonial discoveries, racial cruelties, invented names, simulated tribal cultures, and the unheard literature of dominance in tribal cultures; at the same time, this mother tongue of paracolonialism has been a language of liberation for many tribal people.” — Gerald Vizenor

A flashing gif that says Caution: Independent thought
Look! It flashes!

Beyond Keypals: A Framework for Internet Mediated, Content Based Communication.

Here’s some ancient writing…like, real ancient, that I dug up.

Introduction
As the internet moves from the novelty stages of its relatively new existence and into the realm of a more fully integrated tool for use in the foreign language classroom, educators are faced with questions of its proper uses. The most apparent uses of email for "keypals", a variation on the "penpal" theme of pre-internet days, have been tried and quickly worn thin; teachers are now searching for new and better ways to more fully exploit the potential of the new medium.
This article is a preliminary description of one aspect of a project carried out in the Spring and Fall Terms, 1996 at Nagoya University that takes the concept of the "keypal" and more fully embellishes the role to that of a "cultural resource informant": one who acts in the capacity of a "supplemental teacher" working with students on a one-to-one basis to more fully expand on in-class coursework through discussion and collaboration. This article will describe the pedagogical justifications of content-based language teaching; the steps involved in contacting the informants and assembling the information they contributed on a World Wide Web (WWW)-based page; matching students to the individual correspondents; and finally, describe ways in which this project can be adapted to classrooms that have not yet gained access to internet resources.

Pedagogy
McKenzie (1996) informs us that "Unless classrooms are inquiry-based, project-based or problem-based, it may be a waste of money to connect with the Internet. Unless questions and research are central to life in the classroom, the Internet may serve little purpose worth the millions of dollars of infrastructure required to establish a ‘robust’ connection to the Net." With this in mind, the content-based nature of the course could be more fully realized. The topic, Introduction to Intercultural Communication, lent itself well to content-based language teaching, as it could be used with problem-based in-class subject matter. Further, the course could be developed along the lines of themes to be covered during the 13 – 15 week, 90-minute per class span that each term required. The idea of the correspondents to be used as cultural informants came simply from the need of finding the best way to present alternative views on the subject matter based on the experiences of different peoples from different cultural backgrounds of both the students and the teacher. The shortness of the in-class contact hours was also a prime motivator for seeking outside informants.

Contacting Correspondents
The author is a member of several "mailing lists." These are electronic versions of discussion groups wherein a person can submit correspondence to others as a means of discussion of a topic, clarification of previous correspondence or any other information gathering or disseminating task. It is a step beyond simple one-to-one email correspondence; that is, using the internet to exchange messages of a personal nature, much like regular mail, but at a greatly accelerated response time. "Mailing lists" enable a single author to exchange the same bit of information with hundreds of others simultaneously, and based upon a shared common interest in which the "Mailing List" addresses.
Because the author wished to compile a short list of informants to help further the pedagogical goals of this course, it was a natural step to write a brief letter of introduction and an appeal for help. The letters (appendix A) contained personal information of the author and a short appeal to help. The lists contacted included SIETAR, The International Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research’s two lists, one for all members (approximately 300 worldwide), and one specifically for members in Japan (approximately 50 members); SIT-Alumnet, a 250-strong list of Alumni from the School for International Training, in Brattleboro, Vermont, USA of which the author is a graduate and, more specifically, the SIT-MATNET, a sub-list of SIT-Alumnet containing approximately 70 language educators. All in all, the author could quickly contact close to 700 people with two letters of inquiry, streamlining the search for correspondents and contacting people with a more direct interest in the project.

Giving Background Information on the course
After the informants responded to the initial inquiry, the author sent a more detailed description of the course. This was done to insure that the lines of communication and feedback could be clearly established and maintained between the author and the informants. Background information (appendix B) on the course was also supplied by the author to the correspondents to more fully integrate their experiences into the course. The background information included personal information about the author, what the author envisioned as to the purpose of the course, and an explicit statement on the author’s philosophy of teaching in line with some of the macrostrategies advanced by Kumaravadivelu (1994).
In later stages of the course, the author kept an open narrative journal of the class, which was posted to the correspondents weekly, shortly after each class session and which a sample is included below (appendix C). This again was done to maintain the lines of communication between the author and the correspondents and to help the correspondents more fully address the issues and problems that any of the students may have encountered either within the classroom context or in the context of the internet-based task sheets that were part of the requirement of the course.

Assembling addresses and descriptions
Twenty-seven people in total from various backgrounds asked to join. The author, using a specialized word processing program, was able to compile each person’s request as it came in and built up a WWW page which was integrated into the overall site containing the other worksheets and resources to be used in the on-line version of the course.
Some informants volunteered to withdraw from the project for various, technically related reasons, but the author did not find the technical problems to be substantial for the informant’s withdrawl and advised against it.
The WWW page contained, in the end, active links to the email addresses of each of the informants, along with brief personal biographies and an invitation to the student to initiate the correspondence by simply clicking on the highlighted name of the person.

Assigning homework to the students
Students were told to access the correspondent’s page after first learning how to use the locally available software for accessing the internet via email and the WWW. Once students could access, the author sent email with assignments for looking over the entire WWW site and specifically at the page containing the information about the correspondents.
Over the course of the next two to three weeks, a number of small technical matters had to be overcome before every student was properly matched with an informant. Inevitably, more than one student chose the same informant in a couple of cases, which were dealt with on a case-by-case basis and to the satisfaction of both the author and the informant. The students were unaware of these negotiations.

Applications for teachers without internet access
A project such as this does not require full internet access for the student. Schools containing computer labs can as easily use word processing in the same way. It does, however, require that the teacher, at least, has some degree of access to the internet, and knowledge of the uses of email and WWW programs. The advantages of this type of correspondence are many, including fostering a more meaningful interaction between students and others around the world, giving the students more of the initiative in their inquiry-based project work of this sort and allowing the students the opportunity to see a point of view beyond that of the teacher in order for them to become more inquiry-based and problem-solving students.
Disadvantages include more of a time lag between correspondents and the students, a much heavier burden on the teacher, who will act as the physical go-between for the students and correspondents when s/he has to upload and download all of the email that transpires, and the corresponding lack of privacy between students and informants when the teacher acts as mediator of information.
Conclusion
Language teaching is moving in the direction of a more "learning-centered" environment as Edge (1996) has noted, where the teacher acts not as a disseminator of information, but as a resource pointer and problem-poser, much along the lines of the Freireian (1971) approach to teaching literacy.
Using the internet as a tool for this type of project is just one of many practical uses that the author has attempted to describe in this article.

Appendix A

The following is an excerpt from the text of a letter sent to the lists described above.

I’m about to start teaching my course, entitled "introduction to intercultural communication" to a class of about 24 students, most of whom are Japanese (maybe I’ll get one or two non-Japanese, too). As part of the class, I ask students to correspond with someone who has had experience either working in another culture, or involved in an intercultural/interracial relationship. Hmm. Do you know anyone like this? (^-^)/~

If you are interested in participating, and corresponding for about three months with students who are MAINLY studying English for communication, please send me a private email with a very short (25 words or less) mini-biography. I will post this biography on a webpage along with a link to your email address.

I look forward to hear from some of you. I hope the response is not too over/or under/whelming.

Appendix B
Following is an excerpt from the first letter sent to the cultural informants on 26 September, 1996.

The purpose of this email is to give you some background about what is happening in my little corner of cyberspace, what I anticipate will happen, and some things I’d like you to help me with. I’ll include a short bio on myself for those who don’t know me which will include my current philosophy of teaching, a list of WWW addresses for the (always under construction) site which I have prepared for the class, and a general appeal to give me tips/advice/feedback and all the other good stuff that comes from collaborative/cooperative projects such as this. I’ve spent most of my waking hours preparing this class, as it has become my ideal class for using the internet as a supplement to content-based language teaching. Good luck to us all!

_Who am I?_

I am a Chicago-born, suburban-Chicago raised, white non-practicing Jewish 34-year old male. My Japanese wife of 6 1/2 years is Atsuko. — I graduated from UCLA (1986) with a BA in Creative Writing in Poetry, and immediately went into the Peace Corps, where I started my career in teaching to high school students in Kenya. I taught English, Geography, History, Ethics and started two school libraries at the two schools I was at. After Kenya, I came to Japan without returning officially to the US. I met Atsuko, married her a year later, taught in conversation schools, and a vocational college. In 1993, I went to SIT, did my teaching internship in a Mexican University and immediately returned to Japan in June 1994. Since 1995, I’ve been teaching part-time at three Nagoya universities including NU, Nagoya University of Arts and Kinjo Gakuin University. That means that as of October, I’ll have for all practical purposes, lived out of the US for 10 years. That constitutes almost 1/3 of my life to date. (@c-)v

_My teaching Philosophy_

In a nutshell, I refer to Paolo Friere’s _Pedagogy of the Oppressed_ and J. Krishnamurti’s _Education and the Significance of Life_. I want my students to feel that they have learned how to learn. They have learned how to control a bit more, the situations they may find themselves in, and hence be able to be more proactive in their lives, rather than passive and reactive. As a language teacher, I want them to understand how the influence of learning English has changed their worldview and made them ever more unique and valuable to themselves, their family, friends, company, etc. In Japan, where uniqueness does not mean what it does for Americans, this is an especially interesting area for me to discuss with students. I’m also moving a bit in the direction of a Kenyan writer N’gugi wa Thion’go’s _Decolonizing the Mind_ in which English plays the role of the bad guy. The book warns a bit about linguistic imperialism, and how English is used in countries like Kenya to maintain the status quo and de-empower those who can’t speak it. Overall, I agree that we are becoming more of a global village, and that it is important to understand, and appreciate, the different perspectives there are in the world, and to enable my students to communicate their perspective as well as they can, through the English language, while making them understand that their language and culture also has the RIGHT to be respected and used in communication.

_What’s happening_

I wholly embrace the internet. I think it will have a profound impact on all our lives (it already has, actually). Instead of shying away from it, poopooing it, or being afraid of it, I want to use the internet mostly as a networking tool, to seek out others who view this tool as a great resource of human interworking. NOT to use the internet would be a disservice to our students, whose internet skills will give them a competitive/cooperative advantage in the near future. My favorite motto from my SIT days was: "You are your own best resource" and for me, the internet will link me to the rest of you, who are also the best resources. How’s that for empowerment? For more on this see what Vannevar Bush had to say back in 1946

http://www.isg.sfu.ca/~duchier/misc/vbush/

_Addresses_
Please please please. This is a great learning experience for me most of all. I’d appreciate any comments, suggestions, etc that you have for any part of any of this. Meanwhile, several people requested to see what exactly is it I’m doing. Below, I’ll publish the address of the Syllabus and Map pages of the site, which then gives details on all the pages in the site. If you want to contribute to the site, or borrow from the site, or make a link to the site, PLEASE DO!

http://www.webcom.com/lbdavies/b6/syll.html <—-This is the syllabus
http://www.webcom.com/lbdavies/b6/map.html <—-This is the map of the site
http://www.webcom.com/lbdavies/b6/contact.html <—-This is where you will find descriptions of all the other people who have agreed to be contacts.

_Your job_
I will ask, and ASSIGN that students write a dialog journal to you about their experience and thoughts about the class. I will respect their and your privacy on whatever issues they raise with you. However, I would like you to triangulate that they are corresponding regularly with you. It will be up to each pair of correspondents to discuss what they want. If you feel like commenting on what students say, feel free. At the end of the course (haven’t thought about this that much yet) I may ask you to write a brief report about your correspondence with the student and to assess whether they have satisfied the correspondence requirement.

Appendix C
This is a sample narrative journal entry from the second week of the Fall, 1996 term course, written October 25th, 1996.

Hi everyone,

it’s now Friday, a full three days after class.

By now, many of you should have had initial contact with a student. Some of you might get two students, but I’d like to please ask you to write the student and say you are already corresponding with someone else. I haven’t closely checked my email correspondence with the students, but I’d estimate 10 of them have contacted 10 of you.

That said, here is a BRIEF (HAHA) recap of the last class.

21 students showed up, though I haven’t had a chance to put together my attendance sheet.

I started with a few quick comments about getting connected to the internet. Some students are having the usual technical problems, and I am not really there to help explain how to get on email, and how to use MOSAIC (yes, the computers at NU are a bit old. Black and white monitors to boot). I handed out another homework sheet guide to help them find my WWW site and deal with everything that is on there.

It was time to process BARNGA, which we played last week, so I asked the students to "make a BEAUTIFUL circle" which got a big chuckle out of them. I really like to hear the laughter in my classes. It shows that it is a receptive atmosphere and people are willing to let loose. I wish I could do the same, but get knotted up sometimes.

Next, I asked students to quickly introduce themselves, since we didn’t have the chance in the first class. Their name, major and something interesting about themselves. I have 1 Mainland Chinese graduate student, 1 4th year law student, 3 third year students and the rest are first and second year, mainly from the medical, physical science and agricultural schools. There are, unfortunately, only three women in the class, which is a bit of a disappointment, as I’d certainly prefer the balance.

I asked them to discuss shortly what happened last week with the person sitting next to them. There was very nice chatting for about 5 minutes as I let them go on by themselves. I wrote "Remember, Look, Think" on the blackboard (BB) as they were doing this, and generally tried to go over the questions I wanted to ask for the debriefing.

Next I asked them as a class to help me to remember the process we went through. I like Nagoya University Students, because they are much more responsive than the students at my other schools. It IS possible to have an open discussion, though for the first and second year students, maybe even this style is strange for them (sorry for the conjecture here). I elicited the steps and wrote them down, number by number, trying to summarize what they had said and to simplify the English for those having trouble keeping up (many are, and this is a definite challenge for me to overcome).

Step 11 was: Some of us thought the rules were different for different tables. Ace was high for one person and low for another person.
Step 12 was: The game stopped.

I said that I noticed last week that the games didn’t stop and that something happened. There was discussion about how gestures were being used, and that the majority seemed to quickly overpower the minority, even at times giving the minority the winning hand when that person thought they had a losing hand.

I then drew it out to real life situations, and three students responded with
-A Japanese family prepared the best food they could for a week for their American visitor who, in the end, said s/he didn’t like the food.
-A male student who said "I went to boys only jr. high school and high school and then when I got to Nagoya university … WOW!" definitely inferring that he was having trouble relating to or dealing with the female population and said with awe and astonishment for his strong feelings.
-A female student who said she couldn’t even figure out how to use buses on her trip to Canada, and found she couldn’t perform even the simplest functions.

I then explained how Barnga simulates these kinds of situations and that this was our main theme in the class, to get beyond Step 12 above, because real life doesn’t stop and wait for us.

Appendix D
Following is a World Wide Web version current as of November 11th, 1996 of the correspondents and their descriptions as submitted by them.


1. L.A. Adams (laadams@juno.com ) is a 40-something US female who had a career in the arts (13 years) then did a hitch in the U.S. Peace Corps (Thailand). She then went back to school and got her Master’s from SIT. Currently, She is an International Student Advisor at a College in a suburb of New York.
2. Marshall Brewer (marshall.brewer@worldlearning.org) is the Director of Enrollment Management at SIT. He holds a Master’s degree in Intercultural Administration from SIT. He has lived mostly in California, Washington, D.C., and Vermont in the U.S., Oxford, England, and visited Europe, Central America, and Japan. He is gay and married to a man for seven years. He enjoys cooking and gardening.
3. Marisa Brooks-de Dios (mbrooks@orion.valpo.edu) lived/taught English in Japan for 8 years, (3 years in Komaki) and while there met her husband, who is a Filipino. They now live in Indiana, where she is the director of an intensive English program.
4. Alfred Carrozza (104146.3256@compuserve.com) is an American who now lives in the United States. His wife is Japanese. They lived together in northern Japan (Iwate-ken) from 1991 to 1993. He has been studying Japanese language and culture for nine years. He is very interested in learning about other cultures.
5. Erik Dahlin (eriksensei@aol.com) is 30 years old. He has been raised bilingually and biculturally, as his mother is from Germany. He has also lived in Japan for three years, and is planning on returning there.
6.Karen DeVoll (knjpdx@aol.com) is a 43 year old female graduate student in intercultural relations. She is 6 months into learning Japanese, is the Executive Director of the Portland/Sapporo Sister City Relationship, and has been to Japan four times. She will go back in the Spring to immerse herself in the language and do research for her thesis. She is married and has a cat named, Koi. She would prefer having a female correspondent who is willing to discuss women’s issues, especially in Japan.
7.Vansin Dokken (vdokken@aol.com) was born in Cambodia in the late 1960s and has lived in the US since October 1979. In 1986 he received a scholarship to Norway as an exchange student. Between 1987-92 he attended the University of California at Davis majoring in Electrical Engineering. After graduating, he volunteered to help the UN with the general election in Cambodia. In 1993 he returned from Cambodia to study in a Master’s Program in Intercultural Management in Vermont. Thereafter, he has worked with a Japanese non-profit organization in Cambodia and with a non-profit organization in California (funded by the US Department of Defense).
8.Lila Dubin (lila@nagasaki-gaigo.ac.jp) has lived in the Czech Republic and is currently teaching in Nagasaki. She is American.
9.Mary Vincent Franco (vincentfran@macalester.edu) (a Caucasian female) grew up in rural Northwestern Wisconsin — studies Spanish & Latin American Studies at the U of Minnesota — studied (Puebla) and later worked (Mexico City & Monterrey) in Mexico for a total of almost 2 years — did her master’s at SIT emphasizing intercultural training and int’l ed. — at SIT she met her husband (an urban Colombian) and they lived in Colombia for their first 4-5 months of marriage after which they moved back to Minnesota — She now works for Macalester College, a private liberal arts college in St. Paul, MN, in the Int’l Studies and Programming office.
10.Janet Gerba (jgerba@aol.com) is an ESL teacher, American literature teacher, and writer. Born in Kansas, USA and has lived in California, New Jersey, and now living in Killington, Vermont. She has taught students from 5 years old to 75 and has lived and taught in Hong Kong, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, Nitra and Presov, Slovakia. She has also traveled through Japan, staying with friends and former students as well as Tanzania, Mexico and all of Europe and the US.
11.Ronnie Goodwin (ronnie@ccse.kfupm.edu.sa) is an American who lives with his Japanese wife in Saudi Arabia and teaches English.
12.Doreen Harvey (104151.27@compuserve.com) is a cross-cultural training and development consultant, living in San Diego, California. She was born in England, where she spent the first half of her life, and now considers California her home. Her interests are many – business, Latin America, culture, photography, Asian cooking, scuba diving, sailing, travel, the stock market, health, D.H. Lawrence.
13. Gordon Homann (cipsgh@showme.missouri.edu) is a study abroad advisor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. As a student, he studied abroad in Germany for one year. After graduation from college, he lived in Iwate, Japan for two years, where he taught English on the JET program. His wife, Michiko, is from Japan. They have two dogs, named "Ebony" and "Mimi."
14. Nadine Bolliger Kato (katot01@tigger.stcloud.msus.edu) has lived in Japan for three years, one as a student, two as a teacher, and has married a Japanese man. Takashi, her husband, had never been out of Japan before he met her, and now they are living in the US together, so he might have some interesting perspectives to share, also. Nadine is now interning as in international student advisor at a university in Minnesota. Her undergraduate degree was in Japanese Studies, from Earlham College, class of ’92.
15.Suzanne Larsen (sushien@aol.com) is currently pursuing her Masters in Intercultural Relations. She has worked in the field of Intercultural Communications for 6 years with many different cultural groups.
16.Chris MacCormack (sfxk9rk@scfn.thpl.lib.fl.us) spent 2 years in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps Volunteer and two years in El Salvador as an English teacher. He has had many Japanese students in Tampa, Florida, where he is now. He married and divorced a Salvadorean so he’s also a little wiser about intercultural marriages than he was 20 years ago.
17.Walter A. Mosch (gohmosch@sover.net) is a 45-year-old American who lives in Vermont, USA. He is married to a Chinese Singaporean and they have a 3-year-old boy. He lived in Asia for 6 years and taught at the International School in Singapore. Many of his students were Japanese. He is presently teaching at a small college and doing racism work in his community.
18. Herlyne Ramihantaniarivo (herlyne@hawaii.edu) is from Madagascar Island in the Indian Ocean, near Southern Africa. She is currently studying health care at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. Her nickname is "Hanta".
19. Nerida Rand (nerida@eis.net.au) has also been teaching ICC classes to Japanese students. She is Australian by birth, and has studied in Japan, Taiwan and the U.S. She worked as a writer and cross-cultural trainer in Japan for four years. Currently She is working in community theatre in Australia, and teaching Japanese and Intercultural Communication part-time.
20.Catherine Rogers (0006943725@mcimail.com) lives in Vermont and recently studied Intercultural Management at the School for International Training. She has travelled in southeast Asia and lived for almost a year in Penang, Malaysia. She worked for MACEE, a company that provides information to students in Malaysia who would like to go to the U.S. to study. She hopes someday to live and work in Japan.
21.Stephen M. Ryan (RX1S-RYAN@j.asahi-net.or.jp) is from the UK. He was an exchange student in the US. He has lived and worked in Japan since 1984, He has a Japanese wife.
22.Loran Diehl Saito (0007019810@mcimail.com) works for an international exchange organization and recently married a man from Japan. She has a B.A. in French and an in a few weeks will complete an M.A. in Intercultural Management. She has studied and worked in France and Namibia, and has traveled in Brazil, Canada and Japan.
23.Kayleen Oka Sorohan (canaga@aol.com) is a graduate student living in Seattle. She was born in Canada and is a sansei. She grew up in a small French Canadian town where her family was the only Japanese family in town. She lived in Japan for two years where she taught English in Yamaguchi-ken.
24. Molly Strattan (strattan@ohsu.edu), an American, lived in Kenya, East Africa, in 1986 – 1988. She was a high school teacher there. She is now a nurse/midwife in Portland, Oregon, USA.
25. Nestor G. Trillo (nestorgt@hawaii.edu) has lived in Japan and is a Mexican/American. He is fluent in Spanish and English. He is currently doing research in Intercultural Communication.
26. Charlie Williams (cwillia@igc.apc.org) holds a B.A. in English literature from Sonoma State University and an M.A.T. from SIT. He has also participated in workshops for teachers intending to work in a corporate environment. He has successfully helped clients improve their English for Professional Communication from Asia, North and South America, and Europe and has experience training in a wide variety of settings, including refugees in Asia, production workers in the United States, and high level diplomats and business executives in Europe and the USA.
27.Nicholas Zweig (zweig@mail.utep.edu) is currently working at the University of Texas at El Paso as a career advisor. He has lived in Germany for several years, and visited several other European countries, and Mexico. He does not know any Japanese. He has worked with inlingua on their intercultural training programs, and given a few trainings on his own.

References
Edge, Julian. (1996). from a lecture on the Japan Association for Language Teaching’s 4-Corners Tour stop in Nagoya, Japan. October.
Freire, Paolo (1971). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Continuum:New York.
Kumaravadivelu, B. (1994). "The Postmethod Condition: (E)merging Strategies for Second/Foreign Language Teaching." TESOL Quarterly, 28(1), 27-48.
McKenzie, Jamieson. (1996). Internet as Bandwagon? "From Now On – The Educational Technology Journal" 6 (1). September. http://www.pacificrim.net/~mckenzie.


Last Modified: November 27, 1996

My Master’s Thesis artifact

Dug up this old doc. You can click on the links to the right, but you might have to scroll a little up or down for it to make sense. Good luck. This is the HTML version of the Independent Professional Project


Last Update: December 17, 1996
Things that will be added when I get around to it:
  • Simple digitized graphix from the original shoot.
  • Background Music
  • The ability to add nodes to the story so that others can write parts that they want to change
    Your name is Trixie and you decide to go to the Brattleboro Latchis Theater to see “Lost Memories,” the latest film by your favorite star, Rex Darling. You have also heard that he will be there LIVE and IN PERSON!! You don’t know exactly how to get to the movie theater though, because it has been a long time since Rex was in town. You jump into your car and drive off, hoping to find the theater. You remember that the theater is in
    the Northeast part of Brattleboro town. At a stop light, you notice a street sign:

    Left, to the shopping mall.

    Straight Ahead.

    Right, to city hall.


    [ About Lost Memories] [Return to IPP ]

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    Lost Memories
    by Lawrence B. Davies
    Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997

    Return to the Title Page


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    You turn left and come to a sign:

    You go another few blocks and see another sign: What now?



    Take a left.

    Straight ahead.

    Take a right.


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    You continue straight ahead. Soon you see another sign:

    It’s a very nice sign. As you drive past, you enjoy the warm air. You come to another sign:
    ——>

    Which way do you turn?

    Turn around, to Brattleboro.

    Right, to highway 9.


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    You go to the City Hall. You reach a large public area. There are many people around. There is a Jazz band playing in the center of the park. You look around. There is a fat man in sunglasses, reading a magazine and standing on a corner. You also see a woman sitting near a sign that says “TRAVEL INFORMATION.” You want to get to the movie
    theater fast.

    What do you do?




    Go to the man in the sunglasses.

    Listen to the jazz band.

    Go to the woman under the sign.


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    You go in the direction of the bank, you are lost. You see a friendly young man on the corner, you pull your car over and walk up to him.

    What do you say?





    Hi, how are you?

    Excuse me…

    Where is the theater?


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    You turn to the shopping mall. You drive a few more blocks and then see another sign:

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    Turn left, to the bank.

    Go straight, to the shopping mall.

    Turn around, to city hall.


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    After awhile, you look around and notice a sign:

    Which way do you go?





    Turn left.

    Straight ahead.

    Make a right.


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    You turn right. Soon you are on a highway. The wind blows through your hair. The sun warms your skin. You turn on the radio. You’re going 120 kilometers per hour. Great! What a beautiful day! Then, you hear a loud sound and look in your mirror. It’s a police car, and a voice is saying “Pull over NOW!!” You have to go to jail for driving too fast! And you will miss Rex! Oh well.

    Try again at the beginning.

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    You go to the fat man. He looks at you. “Excuse me,” you say to him. He doesn’t answer. He looks at you. You say hello again. He says nothing. “Excuse me,” you say, shaking his shoulder. He holds his chest, falls to the ground and rolls on his back. His
    tongue hangs from his mouth. His eyes bulge out of his face. omewhere a woman screams.
    The Jazz band stops playing. People run to where you and the man are. Someone yells, “What happened, what happened?”

    This is bad…

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    You get out of your car and listen to the band. Ahh! Isn’t that Jazz wonderful? Can you feel the music? Do you remember what you were doing before you started to
    listen to the Jazz?

    Please start again at the beginning.

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    You go to the woman under the sign. “May I help you?” she asks.

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    Ask her for directions.

    Say “Where are you from?”


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    “Hi, how are you?” you say to the young man. “Fine.” he says, and he waves as he walks around the corner.

    You are very confused, perhaps you said the wrong thing to try to get his attention.

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    “Excuse me,” you say. The young man looks at you. He puts his hand up to his ear and cups it. “Eh?” he answers. He looks confused. You think for a moment and say:



    Excuse me.

    Hi, How are you?


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    “Where’s the movie theater?” you ask. The young man looks at you. “Lady!” he says, and laughs, “It’s not faaaar!…not at all…Just go that way for two blocks…twoooo blocks…and you’ll find the City hall…ya got that miss?…yeah, the City Hall!” He looks a bit tired. “Then…” he continues, “When you get to the City hall… yeah… just look for a sign that says highway 5. Then look around…look around…look for a fat man…a fat man who is holding a magazine about cigars… HAHAH…, he wipes his wet mouth, sniffs loudly, pulls a handkerchief out of his pocket and blows his nose.

    He disappears around a corner mumbling “City Hall!”

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    You drive down the road toward the shopping mall. Soon, many men on motorcycles are following you. They all have smiles on their faces. When you stop at a red light, they surround your car. One man, a very large and ugly looking fellow, comes up to your window yelling “What do you want?”

    What do you do now?



    Ask him for directions.

    Drive through the red light.


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    A large crowd of people is coming together. You can hear some people saying “Murderer!” A large policewoman comes from the middle of the crowd. “What have you done?” she asks. You decide you have two choices:



    Run for your car. Perhaps no one will see you.

    Explain what happened. The man had a heart attack.


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    You ask for directions. The woman says, “drive three blocks east and turn left at West 4th Street. Then, go two blocks north to South Street.
    Turn left on East 6th Street, because north South Street is one way going west. You’ll be on mid South Street, which is just before south North Street, which is where the movie
    theater is, between the south branch of the Western Corporation and the east branch of Northeast Industries.”

    “Have a nice day.”

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    “Where are you from?” you ask the woman. She looks at you, but says nothing. Again you ask, “Where are you from?” Again she is silent and looks confused.

    You don’t know what to do so you get back in your car and drive away.

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    “Excuse me,” you say again and ask for directions. The man looks at you, then says, “Sure. Go down this road for three blocks, and turn right. Then after two more blocks, it’s on your left.

    You thank him and…

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    You drive for three blocks. Finally, the movie theater is a left turn and you’re there. REX! You begin to
    dream of the two of you dancing under the stars. Champagne, fine food, and the ocean. You begin to turn left, but then think that maybe you should turn right. Or maybe it’s
    another block straight ahead. Now you’re confused again, but you…

    Turn right!!

    No, no! It’s to the left?


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    You roll down your window. “Excuse me…” you say, “I’m lost. Can you tell me how to get to the movie theater?” The very very large and ugly man puts his mouth to your
    ear. “SAY THAT AGAIN,” he screams.

    What do you do now?



    Ask him for directions.

    Run through the red light.


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    You drive around turning left, right and going straight, but you forgot the
    directions.

    You might miss Rex…

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    You run, but you don’t get very far. The policewoman jumps on you from behind. Later, in court, your testimony is thrown out. You are charged with murder and
    sentenced to life in prison.

    You really have to be careful around these parts.

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    You explain what has just happened. The fat man stands up. “JUST JOKING!!” he says and the crowd goes away. You don’t think it’s very funny. You get in your car.
    Where is that movie theater?

    You stop at a stop sign.

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    You turn right and go two blocks. THERE IT IS ON YOUR LEFT! THERE’S
    REX. ISN’T HE HANDSOME! WOW! WHAT FUN, WHAT EXCITEMENT, WHAT A WONDERFUL WAY TO SPEND THE DAY, REX SEES YOU AND YOU EVEN TALK TO HIM! CONGRATULATIONS!

    YOU DID IT!

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    You go through the red light. The men follow you. You go through different parts of town. The men are getting closer. Look! On your left! It’s the THEATER!! THERE’S REX!! But, you can’t stop. The motorcycles are right behind you. You continue to drive. The gang catches you and breaks your windows. You drive into a lamp post. You miss Rex and spend a long time in the hospital recovering from your bad experience. Better luck next time.

    Try again at the start.

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    Thanks for playing. Send comments to lbd@gol.com

    Return to first card

    Title Page
  • MINNESOTA

    Mongolia’s calling!
    Is Nepal far behind?
    Norway is glowing!
    (the) Netherlands teach sublime!
    Ethiopia is growing!
    South Africa‘s kept to the time.
    Oh Uruguay stop your stalling!
    The United States still in its prime.
    Australia and New Zealand dance away the night.


    Written July, 1996. Forest Grove, Oregon. For my Guardian Angel.

    Pupa: an unfinished sonnet

    Butterflies are free to fly away
    Or stay
    That’s up to them
    Heaven helps them

    We can do our part
    Or stray
    Roll along buildings
    Knowing it’s OK.

    Or Turn Gray
    Knowing not what pupa was today.


    Written July, 1996. Forest Grove, Oregon.
    For Janet, Sheila, Bobbie and Gordon.

    euLoGy

    The first girl I danced with…
    It was awkward. I
    Remember her laugh – young, fearful, hopeful –
    A great exploration about to begin.
    So much human jungle ahead.
    A 12-year-old’s giggle, a gold prospector’s shovel,
    Brush, pan to dip to let the water sieve through, in nugget anticipation.

    We touched, always tentative, my arm around her waist.
    There was music. There were other stumbling dancing couples.
    Our dance was short. Then we were on our way.

    I remember her name. Not the music.
    Not what happened next.

    She’s long passed. Cancer got her.
    Pretty sure she married in those 40 years – had kid-nuggets– found her way
    Through the jungle. I honestly don’t know.

    Our story was barely a pan-dip.
    The laugh. Her waist.
    Her waste.

    My cloud

    Released 25 September 1965 and becoming a number one hit, Get Off of My Cloud was a smash hit for the Rolling Stones.

    I was somewhere in Skokie Illinois, at some beauty parlor on the south side of Dempster, just a couple blocks west of McCormick Blvd, in some mini / micro mall of some kind. It was definitely a beauty parlor, because I was with my mom, who was probably getting her hair dyed red.

    I remember seeing this 45 rpm record disc with this blue cascading label design going round and round some measly turntable set up somewhere in that shop. My mom was 34ish, and I was about to turn 4ish. I guess I remember the music, too. I guess.

    I remember this image so well, mainly because, whatever day it was, and it seemed like a cool brisk late fall day, it was the very first day of my life where I became self-aware. It’s my first memory of anything. Watching this spinning label go around and around a turntable, it was somewhat hypnotic—that and the pulsing drums that are so prevalent throughout the song. Those pulsing, pulsing drums. The vortex created by the label as it spun. And of course, Mick’s vocals.

    I live on an apartment on the ninety-ninth floor of my block
    And I sit at home looking out the window
    Imagining the world has stopped
    Then in flies a guy who’s all dressed up just like a Union Jack
    And says, “I’ve won five pounds if I have his kind of detergent pack”

    I said, “Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Don’t hang around ’cause two’s a crowd
    On my cloud, baby”

    The telephone is ringing
    I say, “Hi, it’s me, who is it there on the line?”
    A voice says, “Hi, hello, how are you?”
    “Well, I guess I’m doin’ fine”
    He says, “It’s three A.M., there’s too much noise
    Don’t you people ever wanna go to bed?
    Because you feel so good
    Do you have to drive me out of my head?”

    I said, “Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Don’t hang around ’cause two’s a crowd
    On my cloud, baby”

    I was sick and tired, fed up with this
    And decided to take a drive downtown
    It was so very quiet and peaceful
    There was nobody, not a soul around
    I laid myself out, I was so tired
    And I started to dream
    In the morning the parking tickets were just like flags
    Stuck on my windscreen

    I said, “Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Don’t hang around ’cause two’s a crowd
    On my cloud”

    Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Hey, you, get off of my cloud
    Don’t hang around baby two’s a crowd
    On my cloud

    Hey, you

    It’s a song of blight, troubled sleeplessness, crass commercialism, and the outside world shoving itself down our throats, with the response that two’s a fucking crowd.

    It’s an introvert’s song; It’s MY fucking cloud—MINE!

    The early 60s, well, all of the 60s, a huge cultural shift was taking place in the Western world. Rock and Roll was bred from gospel and the blues—hell, it was stolen from the African-American experiences and it reflected a loss of innocence, disillusionment, and a way to ease the suffering so common in human existence. Song lyrics became reality-based…and love-based. Years earlier Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit pioneered this approach. In the 60s, Civil Rights were in the ascendancy. American involvement in Vietnam was increasing. It was a confusing fucking time…for anyone over 4ish.

    This morning, I listened to the song as I drove to work, and noticed something interesting. The first four bars are only drums–Charlie Watts’ drums. Charlie was 24 when they recorded the song in early September 1965. So, I realized that it was Charlie Watts’ drums that signaled to me the beginning of my self-awareness. My sentient brain was shaken awake by Charlie Watts, who passed away yesterday at age 80.

    Do I owe him a debt of gratitude for those first four bars? Do I owe the designer of the London Records 45 disk label that honor for its mesmerising look as it spun around and around that turntable inside that cheap beauty salon on Dempster?

    I’m gonna go with Charlie, because his work brought me into the world that day. The song foreshadowed so many things present today, over 55 years after its first release—a world where I’m 60ish, there’s climactic blight, sleeplessness induced by social media notifications, Bill Hick’s long ago but still relevant insistence of stopping rampant commercialism of everything, and, again, social media’s maddening negative impact on our privacy and sanity.

    Rest in Beat, Charlie. The world you brought me into is a tough one, but the reality is, my cloud is still my cloud and I work daily to keep my introverted ass inside of it.

    Time Capsule dated 16 JUN 2013 – Riyadh, KSA

    I get to reflect on my dad again, huh? Well, let’s see…(checks chip on shoulder)…
    That’s a mighty big chip. I suppose it’s not so bad after all. There are many situations I’ve had where I’ve asked, “What would my dad have done in this situation?” The answer is, invariably, “Well, actually, he’s never been in situations that I’ve been in.” Our lives have been so very very different. He was born and died in Illinois, spending a good 70 years in Chicago. He sold industrial real estate. He gambled a lot. He had six kids from two wives. Um…he stayed sane most of the time, but definitely strayed from sanity at the most inopportune times.
    All in all? Well, that chip is still there, and I’m reminded a lot of him, especially when I look in the mirror and see such a strong physical similarity.
    OK, so it’s not a glaring, shining idolization of Mr. Stuart Davies aka “Mr. Wonderful”. However, I must thank the man for giving me a ticket to this short thrill ride. I’m still hanging on tight, seatbelt unfastened, enjoying the breeze as the world whooshes by without him.

    Partying like it’s 1999. In fact, it IS 1999.

    Time capsule January 2020

    OK, I’ve updated my stock response now to MAGA-teen-fascist-gate, let me know what you think, FB fans (edits have been made! Several times lolol.)

    “The following is not my original metaphor or analogy, but they are my words … the fucking media is framing this whole thing as if we are talking about the weather (who was guilty, the MAGAteen or the Native American Elder?) and nothing is said about the climate (MAGA hats in DC – incendiary from the start; who sent them to DC to petition the government to subjugate a woman’s control over her body?; Where were the chaperones?; Why was the Elder there anyway?; Why should we care about the history of the Native American?; What part did the MAGAphalanx(patent pending) (30+ others) play in the face to face stare down?; Who were the four “Black Hebrew Israelites” and do they matter?; Does the MAGAphalanx making ape sounds and mimicking apes at the “Black Hebrew Israelites” mean anything?; Why did MAGAteen’s mother call them “Black Muslims”; Why did MAGAteen suddenly have GOP/McConnell tied PR firm writing the boy’s “I’m the victim” letter?; So many climate-based questions, etc etc thus far and where’s the media? They are fucking focused on the Rashomonian “event” to find out “what really happened”).

    You know, the media needs a fucking horserace, or a boxing match or whatever. I mean, they HAVE to sell soap and boner pills and to pander to your inadequacies, because you know, it’s a living.

    Then there’s this video from before the “MAGteen vs Native American Elder” videos. 



    Get a clue. It DOES take a village to raise a child, and the Covington High School “village”, located in a Kentucky suburb of Cincinnati, raises racists and rapists. There’s a LONG history of video and photo evidence (although Covington HS is doing a bang up job of closing down their sites and removing those videos and photos). Note: I’m too lazy to curate all the links, do your own research. 



    So, like Climate Change, in which our proudly ignorant president, who tweeted that it would be great to “have a little of that good old fashioned Global Warming right now” in a January arctic blast that’s deep freezing much of the US, and who also tweeted in support of MAGAteen (while misspelling his name), it’s not about the weather today, it’s a bigger and much more complex picture that requires a bit of focus and some higher order thinking skills. I fear there are still a large enough number of people who possess no thinking skills whatsoever, because you know, it’s hard work and all that.

    …and the media, well, again, they just won’t do their job properly.



    In short: Forget the WEATHER and look at the CLIMATE.”

    I use these three tags regularly for posts…

    #MAGACONJOB – because you know, we have a master snake oil salesman sitting in the Oval Office with his finger over the nuclear button. He’s also doing a fabulous job of sucking the air out of every room and keeping our attention completely on him, so that little fuckers like the MAGA teen can be poster children for privilege of all kinds.

    #kentuckyfriedturtle – Because Mitch McConnell has been the biggest enemy of the US Constitution for how many years now? He’s also involved in this incident through his crony network. He’s really where we need to focus, but #MAGACONJOB just keeps doing things so incredibly moronic we just can’t look away. He is also the sole current owner of the government shutdown. Trump got it rolling, but McConnell is the one feeding it with his inaction.

    #dominionistveep – I don’t want Trump going anywhere unless this creepy creepy CREEPY fucker goes with him. Pence’s world view is the scariest of them all.

    Everything ruined, wasted!!

    April 24, 2005, Jimmy Johnson drew this Sunday panel.

    It’s a reminder to be patient. It’s a reminder to be observant. It’s a reminder to appreciate the glory of life, the cycle of death, the power of nature.

    It’s a reminder to look to see what works best, what to do differently, how to surprise yourself.

    It’s a reminder to do things with purpose, with meaning, with full engagement.

    I’ve had this panel printed on my door, on my computer desktop, and figured this is as good a place as any. It reminds me so much of this, perhaps the best C&H of all time, given it’s Watterson’s goodbye to the bullshit. Lucky Watterson. He could afford to go out on top, with integrity.

    Time capsule NYE 2016, part 2: Abu Dhabi doooooo!

    FB again upchucked this long gem, so here it is for awhile, until my ISP shuts down. The last posting I updated for NYE 2021, but I’m just gonna take a pass on this one this time, folks.

    In my last 2015 post, I reflected about the year, and believe me I left out a LOT of detail. It’s very hard to write about separation from family, and the time I was in Chicago, which really was a great time…but the city is just not for me. I explored it a great detail and appreciated how great a city it is, and I’m very glad my wife and daughter are there and enjoying their lives around my brother and sisters and their friends and acquaintances. I miss the entire extended family there. Hugs and love to you all.

    So, ok, now on to 2016.

    2016. Another year of potential.

    As I settle into life in Abu Dhabi, I have a lot to look forward to. My work at Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) has been ramping up slowly. This year, I’ll be getting an internationally recognized certification to be a teacher trainer across the curriculum. This is an important feather in my cap, as I move very slowly toward consulting in education. I would assume I’ll have the cert in hand by mid-year. Meanwhile, working diligently to make sure the Professional Development (PD) program we have in place gets tied to the accrediting agency (Higher Education Academy, HEA – located in the UK). Our PD program is really quite good, but getting it out and working with the 1600 faculty spread across 17 campuses in the UAE will take some time and some re-thinking on the part of management…which always seems to be the case wherever I go. That, in short, is my current work situation. In three years’ time, I have a potential leadership spot in the premiere PD program in the GCC countries, lead by HCT / HEA, where we’ll have a huge impact on raising the teaching standards at all universities and colleges of higher ed, public and private. Seriously, how amazeballs is that?

    Last year, I managed to visit the US, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, India, and Oman (I swear I must have left something out). This year, on tap, if all goes well, I’ll be back in the US in July for a short spin (California and Florida folks, I can keep you in mind and try to do a few days in each place), another trip to India, a visit to Japan for a very special event (details to come), and if I can pull it off, a visit to Rwanda, but not just because. I can send out vibes to hit Vietnam and revisit Malaysia, but those are lower priorities at the moment. EDIT: Almost forgot possible hits to Italy and the UK to visit certain academic nephews I know.

    Honestly, especially to my American friends and acquaintances, travel is it. If you’ve never left the country, do it. If you’ve only been to Europe, there are non-Western places to visit that are priceless. It’s worth the money and time, and you’ll have lots of great stories to tell.

    So do it, and tell them.

    Finally, there’s health. I hinted at my crappy habits, mainly bad food habits, that are very hard to break. I’ve ventured into semi-veganism, which has been quite hard here in the UAE. Nevertheless, even with some current backtracking, I am doing my best to locate plant-based foods, and reduce food consumption. This will fight all the current things that are ravaging my body (diabetes type 2, high blood pressure, high cholesterol) and will have a negative impact within 10 years time, so there’s an urgency to right the boat, as it were. I don’t have a resolution to lose weight, only to reduce caloric intake and fat intake…and that should work to reduce weight. I’ve done a lot of research and investigations, and I’m getting there. Not eating 100% healthy yet (Indian veg food here is great, but full of cream and ghee, if nothing else), but the habit has started, and I allow myself to “fall off the wagon” without killing myself for it.

    Ah yeah, there’s one other thing. Ayaka Davies hits age 21, and thus full adulthood in two weeks’ time. Though I can’t be there, she knows how I feel about her reaching that awesome milestone, and she knows how much I miss my two girls. She’s grown into a hard working, charismatic adult already, and I applaud her successes and her ambition to become a social worker after getting her Masters (she can crowdfund the tuition, because my financial obligations end at her receiving her Bachelors).

    Facebook remains my top “broadcast” network, and I love the banter and inside jokes I can exchange with people I’ve known from various times and places in the past. Keep it up, people. We are all on a similar adventure, even if the contents are different, and sharing what’s going on with you, and seeing your faces and your families is always inspirational.
    Again, here’s to a great, inspirational, prosperous, and as-stress-free-as-possible 2016 for everyone I know.

    Time capsule NYE 2016, part 1: Facebook is a dark joke.

    FB blasted me my 2015 writing for the NYE 2016, so I’m copy/pasting and updating this in 2020 for NYE 2021. Let’s see how it goes. I’ll just add the updated version (in parentheses), so.

    2020 was the worst god-awful shit-storm dumpster-fire and I really don’t see an improved 2021 ahead because reasons

    PSA – Reflection 2015 (2020)

    Well, the year is done. I’ve been 54 (59) orbits around the sun, which in itself is a shocker. So, what went on in 2015 (2020)?

    – Lived in Chicago from January through March, waiting for work visa. (2020 – Lived in Abu Dhabi UAE the entire year. Didn’t leave it to go anywhere).

    – April, moved across the world, YET AGAIN, this time back to the Middle East and a job in the United Arab Emirates, neighbor to Saudi Arabia, but very different culturally and technologically. (2020 – Renewed my apartment rent. Expensive, but nice building with a view of the Gulf and downtown AD – worth it)

    – Resigned (2020 – reassured) myself to the fact that I probably (2020 – definitely) won’t live and work in the US again, for reasons too numerous to put into this little FB posting. (Even more new and improved reasons in 2020)

    – Found myself separated from my immediate family for quite possibly a very long time. The repercussions from this are also too numerous, but suffice to say, it takes a very VERY strong mind to reconcile and accept this fact. Since I am a “go with the FLOW” kind of person, this is how it has to be, and I am going with it. My family knows me, and accepts this. None of it is easy ever. At all. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate)

    – The opportunity I have here in Abu Dhabi is unique in many ways, and the same as anywhere else I could be. I am buckled in for quite possibly several years here, given my age and current situation. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate, though I thought I’d have advanced my position, but I know now that won’t ever happen)

    – I am politically removed from the US now, and I don’t like the direction the country is headed. It’s obvious through my many political postings where I stand, and being a “pragmatic progressive” I have also accepted that oligarchy has taken over the country I grew up in. I am thinking a lot about this, and thinking of the many people I know, family and friends, who I’ve left behind to live in the US, which, if you look at the facts, is declining in wealth and influence around the world. (2020 – Unchanged – except for it being far worse, and accurate prediction)

    …there’s a bright spot. Except for the usual old bastard things, I’m relatively healthier than in 2015

    – Overall, my physical health is not the best, but that’s all from my horrible personal habits. I am human, and proud to be who I am, and have grown a bit more into the “jeez, it’s one life, might as well enjoy what I can of it” state of mind. I’ll be around for several more years, so no worries there. (From January 2020 to now, I’ve dropped close to 15kg, so there’s a bright spot. Except for the usual old bastard things, I’m relatively healthier than in 2015)

    – I am the most conflicted about my life’s work. I’ve been an educator since age 24. It’s really all I know and love. As much as I’ve seen in the many countries I’ve lived and worked, I try to stay positive, given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary about what it means to be in higher education. I’m still doing it, and really adore every minute I put into writing about it, thinking about it, and putting it into practice. More amazeballs things are around the corner for me in my current job. (2020 – Coaching is a new endeavor – and there’s already a lot of potential that surprised me – especially how it seems a natural next step)

    – Basically, I am extremely happy and fortunate for the experiences I’ve had – even with the crusty “angriest guy in the world” postings that I just can’t help posting on FB. I know what I’ve seen and done is something extremely rare in this world. I’ve experienced things extremely unique for one travelling the earth. I am more than a tourist to many regions of the world. This experience has been priceless, so very very priceless, and it’s absolutely impossible to express in words. I’m not gloating about this. I really feel so very fortunate for what I’ve carved out in my life. (2020 – in 2016 I hit five continents within one month of travelling. That was pretty cool. Returned to Okinawa twice – or three times – already too old to remember).

    – Facebook, more than anything, has helped me connect and reconnect to a LOT of people from my past. This is such a unique moment in our collective experience to be able to do this. I have re-friended a lot of people, made closer friends with a lot of my acquaintances, and seen that there’s no way ever we will all see eye to eye on things that are important to us. Folks, we can and must agree to disagree, but we must realize how temporary we are here, and do our best to leave a legacy to our progeny. (2020 – Yeah, FB is a dark joke. At least I started using Duck-Duck-Go instead of Google for my web searches. All large social media are evil – FULL STOP and that won’t change.)

    – Above all else, I want everyone reading this to remember two very important things about our all-too-short life. 1) Breathe in. 2) Breathe out. Laugh if you want, but these are the two basic truths that we must remember in order to continue another time around the sun. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate; so very very accurate)

    – Go watch a sunrise, and watch a sunset on the same day. It’s a very sober reminder of the amazing beauty that surrounds us, but that we can very easily forget when we get caught up in the day-to-day goings on. (2020 – Unchanged and accurate)

    Love (2020 – most of) you all, and with the very best wishes for a safe, sound, prosperous, content, and very very Happy New Year (2020 – stay. the. fuck. inside. wear. a. fucking. mask. get. a. fucking. vaccination. then. wear. your. fucking. mask. stay. safe. stay. sane. wash. your. hands.)

    In short: 2015 was AMAZEBALLS (2020 was the worst god-awful shit-storm dumpster-fire and I really don’t see an improved 2021 ahead because reasons).

    Kwaheri 2020.