Monday, June 14, 2010

In the park

Walking Toby in the park this morning between 6:20 and 6:30, we met...

1) First, as we left the house, a shock for Toby! Our neighborhood cat, a white cat with a red collar, was hiding under our car. Toby recoiled in fear and disgust! Brother Jiji has named the cat "Somersault" for some reason, so we all call it that in our family. p.s. now he insists that the cat's name be spelled "Summersalt".

2) In the park, the unfriendly man with his amazing and cute frisbee-catching dogs! Two active border collies, both black with white paws and chests.

3) The friendly older lady gathering greens for her rabbit (I used to wonder if she was gathering greens for her own table...)

4) Another friendly old lady with her old dog, Choro. Choro is a raggedy-looking, fairly big, 15-year-old white dog, maybe an Ainu-ken (Hokkaido-ken)? Choro has a very large lump on one side of her neck. Kind of antisocial (Choro, I mean), but at least she is finally used to us now. The lady on the other hand is super friendly!

5) An old man, Choro's friend, who often walks past the park on the sidewalk along the road. This man always carries dog snacks (it would seem), so old Choro perked up when he passed by this morning, and trotted quickly across the park and out to the sidewalk to see her best friend. Her elderly owner followed slowly behind (Choro is usually off her leash).

6) The sporty-looking professor who lives across from the park, brushing his dog Bau. Bau is a Corgi and is an outside dog (lives in a doghouse) - he used to get alarmed when we walked by his house, and would bark at us. For a year or more he has not barked, and recently we met Bau up close for the first time. He seemed so happy to see us, and rolled onto his back! This morning we met him for the 4th or 5th time since then. Toby completely ignores Bau, and tries to stay away, because Toby is only interested in dogs he doesn't know well. Toby *loves* to meet dogs he doesn't know, but after 2-3 meetings he has no use for them...

7) A girl in Jiji's 5th grade class, getting ready to jog with her father. She is a tall girl, probably just 1-2 cm less than Jiji. Also her kindergarten-aged brother was hanging around with her. They also live across from the park.

All this was just during the 10 minutes we were out (before 6:30 a.m.), in a small park near us!

-- Not seen today, but often seen in this time bracket....

- Mei the police dog. Very big all-black German Shepherd (cross?), looks like a bear or a black wolf. Scary-looking, but very well-behaved, and has a cute name! She is often found training in the park. Toby used to be terrified of her, but has improved recently.

- Boys of various ages practicing basketball, jogging, or pretending to practice soccer. Usually in pairs or singly. The soccer boy is a grade-school kid who is often found at this time with a soccer ball and some mini-cone things, but he just seems to stand around...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interesting questions

Yesterday I spoke with some students in a special education class. I did my usual self-introduction spiel, with pictures of my family and hometown. Then the floor was opened for questions from the students. Usually when this happens in a regular class, there will be either silence, or attempts by friendly students to ask very standard questions, or a class clown or very good student asking a couple of standard or sometimes humorous questions - such as, "What music do you like?" etc..

The special education students were allowed to ask their questions in Japanese, and I was very surprised by the large number of students who immediately raised their hands. The questions were very different from those in a regular class, too... just off the top of my head, some of the questions I was asked were (here translated into English):

* "How did you feel when Michael Jackson died in America?"

* "Were any of your family members injured in the terrorist attack on America?"

* "Do you know the Gundam character named ---------?"

* "Did you hear about the murder of the ALT L------ H----- in Tokyo?"

* "Did you buy Michael Jackson's Thriller?"

* "Do you think President Obama is a good person?"

* "What was the first tourist area you visited in Japan?"

* "What place do you like most in your home state in America?"

* "Power Rangers are also popular in America. Did you like them when you lived in America?"