Nina's a Geek

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Or is she?

Your results:
You are Supergirl

Iron Man
Wonder Woman
Green Lantern
The Flash
Lean, muscular and feminine.
Honest and a defender of the innocent.

Click here to take the "Which Superhero am I?" quiz...

I went to the movies to see X-men III last night. We got there too late to see the next 6 flags commerical. I was really looking forward to it.

But something interesting happened in the movie that I actually couldn't control laughing outloud. There was only one other group of people in the audiance and the guy kept clearning his throat so it's not like I was bother him or anything.

Anyway, if you look back through my posts, there was one where I put a bunch of funny flash movies and videos and someone commented and told me the Juggernaut video was hilarious. I watched it for about 2 minutes before I turned it off. It was so dumb.

Then, I saw this in the movie and died laughing!!!

Meeting in Tampa

Monday, June 26, 2006

So I finally got to go to the Q&A meeting in Tampa.

First of all, I'd like to say that I was a little scared. I've been known to miss very important meetings and even a few finals. Now, this meeting was originally set for Saturday the 24th (yesterday) but it was changed a few weeks ago and we were all given strict information that it was to be today and NOT SATURDAY. But, because of my past history of misreading memos and such, I was afraid that maybe I read the email wrong and it was really yesterday and I missed it. To console myself, I had to keep rereading the email every few hours just to make sure that I was correct. In the end, I was totally right and I got there on time and everything was perfect.

I met about 15 people who are all ALTs and are of course leaving from Miami on the same plane I am. Hopefully, they will prove to be good conversation for the 15 hour flight. I met a few people that I knew right off the bat would annoy me to no end and others that I think I could be friends with. No one really struck my fancy as being bff-forever sort of people, but then again none of them were stationed anywhere close to Kochi so I won't be seeing much of any of them. That is unless I want to do a Tatami Swap which doesn't sound like a bad idea...but I digress.

I also found out that the majority of them had not ever been to Japan and had studied close to nothing of the language or the culture. They are going to be in for a huge surprise and I wish the best of luck to them. Japan is so different from anywhere else I've ever been to that I can't imagine choosing to live there for at least one year without first checking out the place. I really hope they have a good time. Hell, the first time I went to Japan I didn't know any of the language and I enjoyed myself immensely!! But I was only there for two weeks...

As for the questions, most of them I either already knew the answers to or they weren't really that important but good to know for fyi. For example, I knew about the dress code and the weather and how to deal with the weather. Everyone's been giving me the same info for that (Heat one room in the apartment/house and stay there until you absolutely have to move somewhere else. I did hear that one person made a little fort out of her Kotatsu and spent many a night underneath it! hahahha...I might do that)

I learned that Japanese men are fun to date but not that great for long relationships. I'll tuck that piece of information away in my mind for a later date when it becomes relevant.

I learned that some good omiyage are old navy shirts which go on sale the day after the 4th of July (American shirts) Apparently everyone loved them.

I learned close to nothing about lesson plans. That was something that I really wanted to know about and most people didn't seem to care. All the topics were on what happens when you get there and how to survive. Nothing was devoted to actual job performance. I know that JET isn't known for it's great teachers or anything like that but a few general ideas would be nice. I finally asked one of the former ALTs about it. She was a 4th grade teacher here in the states and said that it's not actually teaching (duh). She said that it was mostly game playing and nothing more. It was nothing that you had to have any skill for or any real training. I, on the other hand want to do a really good job. I'm not saying she didn't do her job well. I'm not saying that at all! I think she probably did a fantastic job! The thing is that I want to do a good job and that means I want to be prepared for it. I want to bring things from America I want to be ready for whatever tasks they throw at me and I want them to remember me and actually learn something!


Lastly, and most importantly, I found out that I had forgotten to fill out my tax form here in the US so I can take it with me to Japan all filled out and certified. It takes about 30 days to do and since I have about 40 days, I think I better get cracking. I actually started freaking out about it, like I do whenever I realize there's something I've forgotten (AGAIN!) but I realized it's a simple thing and being a little late on the paperwork is not bad per se, it's just very very inconvenient. Hopefully, I'll have it faxed and on it's way by tomorrow morning. Good luck to Nina, she totally needs it (^_^;)

I leave you with a funny video. I recently saw the Lake House with Christina and I loved it. But during the previews, there was a commercial for 6 flags. It was the funniest and most random thing I have ever seen. This isn't it, but it's close. If I ever find the commercial I'm thinking of, I'll be sure to post it :) for now, Enjoy.

BP Gas Station

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I received this email from my mom the other day and I thought I would pass it on...and perhaps after reading this you will understand just where I get it from. :D


One day when I was driving to work, I got stuck at that light at Tampa Road and Forest Lakes. You know the's the one with the BP Gas station on the corner.

Well, while I was waiting FOREVER for the light to change, all of a sudden, a whole swarm of about ten thousand bees covered the whole area! They were slamming into the windows of the car and it was really pretty scary! It was like watching The Birds (that Alfred Hitchcock movie).

I looked over at the gas station to see if anyone was outside pumping gas, but no one was. Thank goodness! I was SO THANKFUL that I was in the car with the windows up! I looked around to see what everyone else who was stopped at the light was doing, but they all seemed as amazed as I was.

When the light finally changed, the swarm seemed to dissipate - maybe the moving cars broke up their party. Whatever! I was so glad to get out of there!

When I got to work a few minutes later and parked the car, I noticed that there were tons of little yellow spots all over my car. BEE PEE!!! That's what I thought. Must've been the gas station - those bees thought that's where they were supposed to be!

I know you think I'm making this up, but I'm really not. I really happened that way and that's really what I thought!


Six Weeks To Go

Friday, June 23, 2006

Welp, the contest is going well so far. I have all of myself and my two good friends in the area helping me out with it. Yeah for competition!

In other news....

One week ago:

Today at after my bad around 1pm:

It was a three year old phone that just yesterday I was raving about how great and reliable of a phone it was. I suppose I dropped it one too many times though. Now, I have to find a phone to hold me over until August. That's six weeks. I'm not spending $150 for a new phone just for six weeks!!! I'd rather go without....which I won't. I'll find a replacement, I swear!

In other other news, I'm not even at the school yet and I'm already in the school newspaper.



"Hello everyone! My name is Nina Maran and I am excited to be teaching English at Yamada High School. I will do my best to teach you English. Please help me with my Japanese! I look forward to meeting everyone in the Fall!!"


I roughly translated the first part to mean:

"This is the new ALT's introduction! 'I love Japan! I love Kochi! I love Tosayamada!' Nina is returning to Yamada high school as a teacher! She is from Florida, America. Two years ago, she visited here with the Largo Exchange program. This is Nina-Sensei's message to everyone!"

And I wrote out my little spiel and she translated it into Japanese. It's short and a little embarrassing but I wasn't sure exactly what to say. I think it came out well. Also, the first part about loving Japan and Kochi and Tosayamada surprised me because it seemed to come out of nowhere. But to tell you the truth, I think I wrote that two years ago.

When I was leaving the school last time, they had everyone write out what they enjoyed the most about being in Japan. I think that's what I Japanese... huh. I can't believe she kept that! But then again, I kept that little paper that my supervisor messed up on too. HA


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

I have created a scavenger hunt contest! The winner will receive a $25 gift certificate (for where? Life...or your choice. Whichever comes first) I will be participating in this as well so you have some stiff competition! The judge of the scavenger hunt will be my mother so there isn't any bias in the winner ;)

Ok, the rules!

The scavenger hunt is pictures. I want pictures!!! But not just any pictures, no no. I'm looking for pictures that I can take with me to Japan that show what life is like in America. I'm looking for normal but interesting things. I'm also looking for things that Japan has but is different. I've compiled a list of things that I am looking for:

Street signs (lot's of English. Street signs that show the names of streets (Japan doesn't have street signs. Weird I know) and also signs that show exists or construction zones or anything interesting but I also need to be able to explain them so nothing that's very complicated or weird)
RR X-ing signs
Gas station/pumping gas
Pedestrian crossing sign White man walking and Orange hand stopping (separate points for each)
Beach things (people, shops, sunset, etc)
Grocery shopping (carts, products, check out, etc)
Play ground
Fire station
Post office
Mail car
Post office mail box
Police station
Police car
Garbage truck
School bus
School classroom
American flag
American propaganda
Florida flag
Americanized Japanese things (the sign for Arigatos Steak House. I'm not looking for nitty gritty, I don't care to see how some restaurant made sushi and/or sukiyaki incorrectly. I want obvious things)
Anything else that you can think of that represents American life. Cooking a meal? Dinner with the family? Typical house? Extra points for creativity!!

Extra points for American Sized items
Grocery store - find the biggest stores such as Sams/Cosco. Then, find the biggest items in them
Car - Hummer limo
Flag - car dealership sized flag
Biggest meal, hamburger, burrito, etc.

Extra points go to action shots.

Frame pictures in such a way that the subjects are easily recognized. Try to prove how large an object is by measuring it to a standard sized item such as yourself.

I need pictures that I can show to my students so keep them clean and slightly professional. Happy people in my pictures are always a plus. I'm really looking for mostly action shots so bring a friend and have a good time!!! I know I will :)

For now, I leave you with an example:


Actually, if you can get a better shot, that would be sweet. If I have duplicate pictures, points go to the best shot!!

If you're going to participate or if you have any questions email me or leave a comment or surprise me!!

Thanks and have fun!

Fun in the Pool

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Not so fun alone

Swimming Makes My Eyes Dry and Itchy

Monday, June 19, 2006

At least if I swim for longer than 2 hours like I did today.

That's right, it's too hot for the majority of the day to continue biking everywhere. I've taken up swimming. But because I'm a spoiled brat when it comes to water temperature, I usually won't go swimming unless the water is at least 85 degrees and preferably at 86-90 degrees. So to compensate for the temperature today (which was 85) I sat out in the sun reading my poorly written but good book (to the left) for about 20 minutes before the heat became unbearable and then I jumped in the pool and was quite content. It felt great!

Also, I remember what I wanted to write about in my last post. Yesterday, I was a little bored so I pulled out my PS2. My only choices of games that weren't final fantasy/long as RPGs were Katamari Damacy, We <3 Katamari, and DDR Max. So I played Katamari for a little while and then whipped out DDR. Unfortunately, I gave my dance pad away. I hadn't gotten much use out of it since I rarely played and it's not like I'm going to take it to Japan with me or anything. I doubt I'll be bringing my PS2 even! So instead of dancing to the game, I played with my controller. But this only made me crave the actual dancing part of it so I promptly stood up and danced on the carpet while I did the moves on my hand held controller.

This was both a good and bad idea. 1) I started tripping on the cord to my controller 2) I didn't actually have the dance pad so if I messed up it didn't count against me 3) because I was using the controller and I had to use both hands, I couldn't flail my arms as I normally do. So my balance was of. So I messed up my feet a lot. Which I then got confused and started pressing the wrong buttons. And I failed a few songs.

But in the end I danced and had fun (^_^)

It would have been fun to watch too. Sorry I didn't get any pictures ;)

More Doings

Sunday, June 18, 2006

ummmmmm there was something that I was supposed to be posting about but I have no idea what it was now....

Well, the general update is as follows:

Emily is doing fantastic. I just got my camera back from Canon and I started taking pictures immediately. Or rather Sarajane did. She continued where she last left off which was taking pictures of absolutely everything this child does and then some. mmmmm baby drool. Gotta get a picture of that.

I've finished the computers! HOOO RAY! Talk about a big weight off my chest. I was so inwardly stressed about it because it was one of my only responsibilities to do here and I was almost completely helpless. I just didn't know how to fix it. So I got the help of my good friend Elias and we worked on them together.

"Yeah, can you put the camera down and get back to work? SLAVE!"

Actually, I was the slave driver. I wanted Elias to work miracles on these machines. This picture is only of half the room that my family calls "the study" but don't be fooled. There is no studying that is ever done in this room and it's also not as big as it appears. It's tiny as hell and it was hard to get around with everything all over the floor.

I've been trying to get my gifts together for my trip to Japan. It's becoming frustrating but it gives me something to do nonetheless and I'm not stressing about it like I did the computers. I have time and it's almost better that I don't get the gifts now. I have have a meeting to go to on the 25th and they'll tell me anything I really need to know about gifts and everything else.

Favorite stalker song of the moment: Imogen Heap - Goodbye and go (
Talk about the story of my life!!!!

News from the Predecessors

Friday, June 16, 2006

So, there are a couple of people I must list.

Mr. Morioka - The principal of Yamada (Tosayamda) High School
Kimura Sensei - My supervisor at Yamada High and also my main JTE (Japanese Teacher of English)
Tsubasa - A good friend of mine that I met in December of 2000. He went to Yamada high and I've kept in touch with him all these years and now he's an intern there as well. I'll probably be teaching with him! What a small world.
Adam - A guy who went to college in Miami and is now an ALT in Kochi. He will be a second year JET when I begin working.
Julianna - My predecessor. She's from Hawaii and is of Chinese decent so she doesn't get as many gaijin stares as Adam does.

So, I've been emailing a lot between all five of these different people and there is much exchanging of information. Here are some of the things that I've learned:

1. My apartment comes equipped with washing machine, TV, dishes, futon, refrigerator, gas stove, and toaster oven. It's about 10 minute walk to school and 20-40 minute bus ride to my other school which is in Odochi. Supposedly, my apartment is next to a street that is lined with Hanami trees. YES! That street leads to Yamada's largest shrine. After I heard that I knew I had been there before. The last trip I took to Yamada I walked to that shrine and saw the trees and thought to myself that it would probably be beautiful in April but in the middle of June they just looked like regular trees. I can't believe that I'm living next to that street! It's a beautiful area, I'm really lucky.

2. I think I'm going to go the way of the bi-biker. I'm going to get two bikes. One that takes me around the kami-shi area (where Yamada high is) and one to leave at the Kochi city train station so I can bike around Kochi where I'm going to do most of my non-grocery shopping.

3. I originally thought that I had about four people to give gifts to but I was wrong. I actually have about 14 gifts to give and I think I might be rounding down. That doesn't include the students that I need to buy rewards for or the Lions Club members that I might be dealing with. I don't know if I'm going to get them anything but they've always been very kind to my group of Largo exchange students. Maybe I should...

4. It's going to be cold as hell. Surprise

5. There is a strict dress code of no jeans and no sleeveless shirts. So, knowing this before anyone told me so, I went out and bought a whole new wardrobe. I might not have any style or know how to coordinate outfits but I know how to spend money. I got over 50 articles of clothing for a little more than $300. SCORE! And they're good clothes too they were just all on sale. Very professional and cool for those hot summers. Now, I just need to buy an entire cold weather wardrobe *crying bitter tears*

Who Ever Said Nina Was Absent Minded?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

No one, absent minded is an understatement.

So, last Monday, exactly a week ago, I sent a few things in the mail with varying degrees of importance. I had my canon camera that was malfunction and I was sending to Illinois to be fixed, my Visa application/Passport/proof of graduation package to be sent to Miami, and two netflix DVD's. I added insurance to my camera as well as tracking and sent my Passport priority mail. I don't know what the hell I was thinking that I didn't track my passport package but I didn't and now I think I've lost half my head of hair.

The Canon was received on Wednesday but I didn't hear from them via email until Friday. I never heard anything from JET about my passport and NetFlix didn't tell me they had received my DVD's either. All of these things were sent by overnight mail, US post.

Finally, I got a little worried and emailed JET last night to see if they had received my passport and visa information. They promptly emailed me back at 9:30 this morning saying they had in fact not received it and had I put tracking on it like they suggested? No, I had not.

I then receive an email from NetFlix, my DVD's are in and my available items will be shipped shortly.


I then freak out about my passport! That thing has to be in to JET in Miami by July 7th and that means I need to cancel my old one, send in an expedited form which in the end is going to cost around$200something and have proof of my departure date which I don't actually have on company letterhead yada yada.

I didn't know what to do, I was so scared. I had to get my mind of off it just a little because there isn't anything I really could do right then. I couldn't email JET again because I was already waiting for their reply and I didn't want to bother them any more than I already was. I couldn't call the post office (because I already had. They told me they couldn't do anything because I didn't track it) and I couldn't start applying for a new passport just yet because it was still only 10 on a Monday morning, it might still be in transit even though it was supposed to be there Tuesday.

So I took a shower and started losing my hair.

At 10:30 am, I got an email from JET saying they had gotten my passport and everything was perfect.

I see this as a reminder to myself that I'm a dumbass and one of these days something really bad is going to happen and it's going to be my fault and there will be nothing I can do to fix it. Though, I already knew this and that's why I sent my passport in way earlier than the due date. Just in case something happened (^_~)v

In other words, I'm a spaz.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

You Have A Type B+ Personality

You're a pro at going with the flow
You love to kick back and take in everything life has to offer
A total joy to be around, people crave your stability.

While you're totally laid back, you can have bouts of hyperactivity.
Get into a project you love, and you won't stop until it's done
You're passionate - just selective about your passions

Oh Bike, My One True Love

Thursday, June 8, 2006

After I left UCF I pretty much stopped biking which made me sad. So a couple of weeks later I decided to go for a bike ride around my neighborhood which is kinda boring but I make the best of it. My dad decided to put a bit too much air in my tires and just as I was really getting into my music and about a block away from my house my front tired threw up on me. It was green throw up too. I thought I ruined my pants. Thank god I was wrong.

In the beginning of the year (fall) someone slashed this same front tired and I replaced the inner tube but not the tread and when my dad put too much air in my tire, poof, there goes my tire. It smelled like fish. eeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuw.

Welp, that was a few weeks ago and I finally got my front tire fixed!!! WEEEEEEE!

I've been biking around the neighborhood with new vigor and esteem and the exercise feels great. I've decided to give my excursions purpose as well by biking to different places to buy things. The last two days I went to Publix and got cheese, bread, and milk. :) Nothing too big or I won't be able to get it home. Today, I didn't need anything at Publix so I took a different route and just happened to pass my favorite sushi restaurant. I could get used to this biking/buying thing (^u^)

But all this riding has made me notice a few things.
a) It's freaking hot out there! I usually ride around 7pm because I don't get up early enough to beat the sun's heat and because I don't want to be out when it's too dark.
b) These sidewalks were not intended to be usable. I don't think enough people use them because they are all overgrown with weeds and bushes and if they're not then the sprinklers are watering them making it impassable unless you want to get all wet and smell like poo. I don't mind the wet part though. As I've mentioned before, it's hotter than balls out there.
c) Not a whole lot of crosswalks or safe roads when going anywhere outside of my neighborhood. I'm a bike so I'm supposed to ride in the street...but I'd rather get pulled over by a cop and pay the fine (in the unlikely case) than be dead.

Sea Gulls the Size of Chickens

Monday, June 5, 2006

Ah San Francisco, where the women understand that a mullet is never attractive no matter their sexual orientation ;)

I have a short list of things that I found amusing about my trip. Thank god I wrote them down!

The itinerary went something along the lines of: Go stay with Judy and Neil who live right outside downtown San Francisco and stay with them from Saturday until Friday. Then, go to the city and stay in a hotel from Sunday to Tuesday and pal around all Tuesday until Judy picks us up and we stay with her again until the following Saturday when we leave for Florida. When I say "We" I mean Erin and I. Kim flew in a day earlier and left for camp (2 hours north in the California mountains) on Thursday before Erin and I left. So all in all we stayed about 2 weeks.

Now, as I have mentioned before, Erin ripped a ligament walking on uneven ground...let me emphasise the walking part. This happened about a day before we were planning to go into the City. So that meant that we have to drag hobbles around with us and walk at speeds from slower than stop to snails pace. It wasn't so bad though. We got to see a lot of things and I wasn't feeling to great after the hike myself so I didn't mind not running around a whole lot. I would have been up for it had someone warned us that it was 10 MILES!!!!

But anyway, list of things that were interesting:

1. The first street car that we got on broke down. The next day, we were on a trolley and it too broke down. These weren't very good odds. It wouldn't have been very bad except that we were taking public transportation everywhere because it was easier and faster for Erin.

2. Because of Erin's injury, we ended up meeting a lot of different people who would randomly see her (1 of three people on crutches in all of San Fran on Memorial day weekend!) and tell her how she could walk more efficiently in crutches. It helped out a lot. She stopped hurting herself and started getting around a little faster. But very little.

3. We decided that down town is like a giant Epcot. There are little spots that represent many different countries and you can hop on a cute little trolley and eat the over priced food while trying to dodge a bunch of tourists. Lucky for us, there wasn't an entrance fee, unless you consider the Bart which was $4.25.

ummmm I have a few other things but they're not horribly interesting. Every doctor, nurse, random guy that helped Erin out was hotter than hell! Whoo for gimpy! We found shoes that were about $500 overpriced, I took Bonine to help me with motion sickness which was a first, and after being in the City for 2 days I started involuntarily swaying back and forth because I felt like I was still on the bus/trolley/street car/boat/car. Kim just thought I was rocking out to music in my own weird way. A bum stole my pictures and we got hit on by a bunch of different interesting people.

OH! That was an interesting thing! On the plane over, Erin and I were acting quite genki (I can't think of a better word. Genki just really works. It means energetic, happy, healthy. We just were!) And some middle aged men started kinda sorta flirting with us in a very polite way. They looked like business men. They thought we were drunk, a common misconception for anyone who doesn't know us. We can be outrageous without a drop in us! But it made me feel good because it means I'm starting to look a little older than 17.

A couple of gay guys started flirting with my hair too. That was fun (^_^)

San Francisco may not be the perfect place. It's ungodly expensive for everything ($12.99 per pound of deli turkey) and the weather is dry and sometimes too cold (sun burns from cold, windy weather? I, as a Floridian, just can't handle that) but the boys sure are cute!!!! (I got pictures too ;))

Where's Waldo

There are at least 4 gaijin in this picture. Can you find them?

My Supervisor is also in this picture. I just got my contracting organization information in the mail and I have a predecessor and a supervisor. It turns out that I met my supervisor, Kimura Sensei the last time I visited. I found a few pictures of her. She's always standing in the back but she's a really nice person and her English is great!!!

In fact, funny story, I was sitting in on her class once and was working with the students. She handed us a paper filled with English and the students had to figure out what it was talking about. She has used a word incorrectly and I subtly told one of the students that I was friends with. He then called Kimura Sensei over to point out the glaring mistake. Clearly she was wrong since the American had told him so. I was so embarrassed. I didn't want to make her look bad. It was only a small mistake! She just nodded and smiled. Ugh. Well, guess it's gonna be my job now :) Talk about foreshadowing.

Kochi-ken Kami-gun Tosayamada-cho

Sunday, June 4, 2006

I just got back from San Francisco and I'm tired but not enough to actually sleep yet. I have a lot to write about it but I don't feel like it right now. I just want to get things off my mind and I'll write about my adventures later. Promise.

I got home about 11pm (8pm California time) and the house is completely dark. Despite the 6 cars in the driveway and street, my dad was the only person home. I came into my room at it's a complete disaster! My bed's not made because I'm sure someone slept in it and didn't care to do anything with the sheets after washing them (at least they're washed!) And my room is filled with boxes. Boxes that I was in process of cleaning out and were in the living room where no one ever goes and boxes from my x-bedroom. I don't know why my crap from there is now here but I'm assuming that Jules got annoyed with it sitting in her room. It's not like she doesn't have the space for it! It was on my list of things to clean after the living room. I'm just annoyed as hell that they moved my crap while I was away.

The whole flight home I was coming back to reality. The vacation was a really nice escape and I had to keep reminding myself today of all the things I need to do.

I need to clean like crazy and throw out anything I'm not taking to Japan with me. I need to finish fixing the computers. I think I went on the vacation with the sole purpose of getting away from that responsibility. Well…close enough anyway. I need to get ready for Japan. Copy my diploma which came in while I was away, finish getting luggage, make a list of questions for the Q&A session, buy clothes and other necessities and figure out what else I have to do!!!

It’s not overwhelming but the shit in my room and the unmade bed is not helping my moral. I can’t believe no one’s here!!!


btw, I got an email from my contracting organization. I’ll be working at Tosayamada, surprise. Maybe I was hoping for a surprise deep down inside. I’m happy about my placement though.

I hope it's not my only school. I hear all these stories of people with two or three different schools that they go to and if I only get one school I might be sad. Then again I might not either. Kami doesn't seem to be the biggest of areas...

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