Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday activities

What do you usually do on Saturdays?  I try to sleep in some.  By the time I get to Saturday, I'm kind of tired and would like to "get caught up."  I know, the theories about keeping the same sleep routines, but I do like to sleep in, especially if I've had a couple of nights where there wasn't as much sleep as I may have needed.  It is one of the reasons why I am so grateful for weekends. 
I also use Saturdays to do things I may not have time to do during the week.  One thing I do is laundry.  I am fortunate to have a decent dryer, but I usually only use it for the towel/underwear load.  The rest of the laundry gets to dry naturally, meaning they hang to dry.
I have a bar out on the deck where I hang my shirts to dry.
Inside, I have this handy hanging contraption I use to dry my pants and such.
The sweaters usually have a space on my love seat, under my towels to dry. 
Cleaning the apartment is one of the things I tend to do on Saturdays.  I do my dishes and vacuum, some dusting.  It feels good when things are in order and clean.  
Today I also went on a bicycle ride.  The weather was nice and sunny, about 11ᵒC.  I rode with Ruth and we went on a route we have gone before. 
Here's the map of our route.
There is a planned Starbucks stop on our route, before we head back.  It's a great place to stop and enjoy a cup of coffee.
This Starbucks has a nice place to sit outside.
One of the things I enjoy about Japan, is the vegetable stands.  You can find these stands in many places usually not too far from fields that grow the vegetables.  The vegetables are seasonal, so if you're looking for cauliflower, you may not find it.  Today I bought these vegetables.  I hope to use the spinach for making dinner this evening. 
Big radishes!
For the rest of my Saturday, I intend to work on some homework for my class and probably watch a movie.  It was uneventful, but I'm happy with what I did today.
So on a total side note, this past Tuesday evening I went to Harajuku to church to attend a Bible study.  On the way, I walk past a Softbank store and there in the window I saw one of these robots that were featured on CBC's The National.  These robots were used with sick children in a Toronto hospital.  I thought it was amazing that within days of watching that show, I saw this robot! 
I hope you are able to enjoy your Saturday and that you have an even better Sunday! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Middle School Brain Bowl!

Last week I went with nine Middle School students from Christian Academy in Japan, to the Kanto Plains Middle School Brain Bowl.  Brain Bowl is kind of like the Reach for the Top TV show, or It's Academic TV show, except it's at a Middle School level, and the teams are made up of students from different schools.
I apologize for the blurriness of the picture.
There are three different rounds.  The first round consists of ten to twelve questions.  The questions can be a variety of topics, ranging from math questions to questions about novels, to science questions to geography questions.  The groups have an answer sheet and write the answers down to the questions as they are read.  There is about 30 seconds between questions and about a minute after the last question is read.  The papers are collected after each set and graded, points awarded for correct answers to the teams. 

The second round is what we call the buzzer round.  Two teams compete against each other on the stage.  They have about ten questions and the first student to buzz in and answer the question correctly will receive points for the team.  There were twenty-four teams, so we had twelve sessions in the buzzer round.  The questions were from a variety of topics. 

The third round consisted of what I call, theme questions.  One of the sets of questions were visuals of famous landmarks from around the world.  Each group had to identify the landmark, the city and the country that the landmark is located.  Another set of questions were sound bites of anthems from various countries and they had to identify which country's anthem was played.  Another set of questions were country outlines that were skewed and the students had to identify the countries.  Another set were pictures of rare animals and they had to identify the animal.  Some of the questions were difficult to answer and I know I wouldn't be able to answer them all. 

The students had fun making new friends and working together with other students.  I am sure they were able to learn a lot. 

CAJ team
The CAJ team funny looking picture
We were at AOBA - Japan International School in Hikarigaoka.  This year the event fell on a Japanese holiday and their students were not at school that day, so it did not inconvenience the running of their school that day.  We are in the gym for the competition and for lunch the students were outside.  It was a nice day, so they were able to be out on the play structure or sitting at tables to playing on the grass fields. 
Image used for the Brain Bowl event. 

If you are interested, you can go to this link that has study stack questions to a variety of topics. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Winter Break

This past weekend was a long weekend for staff and students at Christian Academy in Japan.  It was our winter break.  The VanderHaak's invited me to come with them to the cabin up by Tagajo, near Sendai.  I do enjoy going to the cabin as it usually is a chance to relax.
It was pretty windy there when we arrived and stayed windy until yesterday, Monday evening.   There have been a lot of construction in the area, but the beach seems to change every time I come back to visit.  They have completed much of the berm, at least halfway down the beach. 

Lone seagull

Part of the beach still being worked on.
Completed berm, so far.
A close up of the berm.

Here they are taking the casings off of the cement jacks.  This is across the road from the beach.   On the beach they have used these cement jacks as barriers and a way to control the erosion.  
Each morning when I got us, I took Hana for a walk around Takayama Beach Company property.  Tuesday morning,  I took my camera along and took some pictures.   You can see that it was windy the last few days, lots of ripples in the sand.  There are some interesting rock formations.
Beach is calm today
Interesting combination of rocks
Distinctive layers
Ripples in the sand
Power plant towards Tagajo
On the last day, before we left to go back to Tokyo, we stopped at the look out, which gives you a 360ᵒ of the area.  At this look out there is a shrine.  I took a couple of pictures of this shrine, as well as taking a couple 360ᵒ videos.

You can see Shiogama through the trees
Add caption

Looking East
Here is the videos that I put together. 

I didn't get as much homework completed as I had hoped, but it was still a great time away from Tokyo.  Tomorrow, it's back to work, although I've had a couple of teachers text me, warning me about snow in the forecast.  😃 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Some videos

Over the last few months, I've been taking pictures and some video of some of the interesting machines, trucks and such around here in Japan.  Some are quite similar to what you would find in North America, some are a bit different.  I have some friends who have children that may find this little video interesting, so I put it together.  If you're interested, you're welcome to look at it.  The best part is the little firetruck you find in the back of the big firetrucks.  I couldn't get a video of one coming out of the big truck, but I did get pictures of the little truck in the back of the big firetruck.

It was fun to look for pictures or take advantage of videoing machines at work.
This past month, I decided to go with each of the homeroom classes on their Homeless Outreach.  We would meet at 5:45 a.m. at the Higashi Kurume station and go down to Ikebukuro to pass out lunches to the homeless who stay in the station during the night.  One of the mornings, I ended up staying at the wickets in the Ikebukuro station and took this time lapse video.

Here is a compilation of pictures and videos of our homeless outreach during the month of January. 
I have just begun our winter break.  I have been invited by the VanderHaak's to go with them to the cabin up by Shichigahama tomorrow.  I am looking forward to a time to catch up on my class's assignments, maybe even work ahead as well as spending time relaxing, listening to the sounds of the ocean and spending some quality time with the VanderHaak's, Gibson's and well, my walking partner, Hana.  :)