Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!

You will notice--I hope--that my profile pic is a lit Jack-o-lantern carved with my favorite face--ME. Hahahahhaha.


ince Halloween is not a national holiday, I went to work. Not only did I go to work, we had a midterm in J Lit in Translation. Poor guys. So anyway, I created the exam this weekend--sometime after another one of UCLA's incredible comebacks in overtime--and saved it to my handy dandy flash drive. Yes, I am not totally inept when it comes to computers.

Well, I go to school today and plug in the drive to my computer and... and... IT'S NOT ON MY DRIVE! Oh crap! I call M to have her send me a copy by email... one ringy dingy, two ringy dingy... the answering machine picks up.

"Hi, this is Onigiriman. Please leave a message."

"Helloooooooooooooooooooo, Musubichan. Pick uuuuuuuuuuuup! Helloooooooooo! You there? Please, please, please be home!"

No luck. She's probably running, that health freak! So I'm about to give birth to a cow, when I look at the screen again under the LitClass directory and low and behold: "Midterm05"... Why didn't I notice that earlier? Well, I print it out post haste, check the hard copy for typos and whatnot, edit it a bit and make 30 copies for class.

Whew, one near--presumed, imagined, self-imposed--disaster resolved. A student walks in to ask me about another class--Literary Japanese, bungo. We have a midterm in this class on Thursday, so he's stressing out about that. He has a few questions, I answer them. He puzzles over them for a second, understands grammar of a question he got wrong in last week's quiz (we have a quiz every Tuesday), and he leaves happy that he understands it.

Ah, another satisfied customer...

I look at the clock. 5:15... 5:15... Lit in Translation begins at 5 o'clock... 5 o'clock... 5... SHIT! I'm late!

I scoop up the exams and bluebooks I will distribute and race down the stairs, all the while trying to figure out if I should give them extra time or reduce the exam by one essay question. It never ceases to amaze me how fast the human brain can process information when faced with a dire situation. Luckily for me, the class is only one floor down from my office. I heave the door open, and burst into the room.

"Sorry! I got..."

I look across the class and about 15 unrecognizable faces stare at me, startled. A teacher standing in front of the whiteboard looks at me puzzled, then with a look of disbelief.

"Oops, sorry. Wrong classroom."

I too am puzzled, as I sheepishly withdraw and close the door. I look at the room number, check my surroundings. Everything seems right... I then check my watch... 4:18... 4:18... I forgot to reset the clock in my office to Standard Time. I hate daylight savings. It is sooooooooo outdated.

I exhale a very heavy sigh. I averted another would-be, wanna-be disaster, but in the process embarrassed the hell outa myself.

I wonder if this is the product of being overworked... Somebody, give me an excuse I can live with...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Two alma maters

Even though it's Saturday, and even though there's the UCLA logo on the right, it's not really a football post. Honest.


any people who have gone to graduate school have gone to two different schools... at least. I went to UCLA to get a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts. My BA is in Japanese--whatever that means. I mean, that would be like someone in Japan majoring in "American": A little bit of US culture, four years of English, 200 plus years of US history, a semester on Whitman or Hemingway or Fitzgerald. In majoring in Japanese, there is more than 1000 years of history, a written language than applies words pronounced in both Japanese and Chinese to thousands of Chinese characters, and scores of well known authors and poets that predate Columbus. So saying I majored in Japanese in college doesn't necessarily mean I was an expert at that time.

My MA is in East Asian Languages and Cultures. To be honest, that is even vaguer than my BA degree. Why? Because I focused on Japan. I was required to take a year of another East Asian language and some other East Asian topic, so I studied Chinese for a summer at the University of Washington and I also took medieval Chinese history. But I am a far cry from being an East Asianist. I mean, if Japan was too vast topic to master in four years, then what the heck am I gonna do in two years with 3000 years of history, tens of thousands of Chinese characters, and more dead Asian males than you can shake a stick at. I don't mean to suggest that I didn't study, and I do know more about Japan than most people, but geez, Japan--let alone East Asian--is so vast that I'm wary of calling myself a specialist even now with a Ph.D.


Speaking of which, I got that little baby at Stanford. I got a great education there, and made contacts that have been indispensable in my career. But lets face it, I had my best years during my undergraduate years, and my loyalties reside there. So when UCLA plays Stanford today on the Farm, I will not hesitate to root for my Bruins. I mean, I've been rooting for them since my childhood before I enrolled there, so I wouldn't be changing alliances so easily anyway.

However, I root for Stanford when they play anyone else, but I gotta tell ya', rooting for this school is an experience in itself. The mascot is a tree--a TREE! Seriously, do you know how hard it is to give the ol' Stanford yell when the Tree is encouraging you on? And the band! Hahahahahha. They are the most unique... wait, that's not the word. Let's be honest. It's more like the weirdest band of them all. They have absolutely no discipline. They wear cardinal red blazers--usually wrinkled and soiled. They wear hats that most people associate with fishing. Indeed, I've seen some have hooks and flies attached to them. This is not a reflection of their musicianship, mind you. They play marvelously. But they are crazy. When the team played Notre Dame one year, the band played music that included a tribute to the Irish potato famine. I kid you not. And when the Bruins were in the midst of the handicapped parking scandal, the Stanford band marched in the formation of a handicapped parking sticker. This was amazing when you consider this band can barely march in a straight line. And in step with each other? Pshaw! That would be too... too... too much like a MARCHING band.

But I gotta tell ya, they are a riot to watch and a pleasure to listen to, when they are not dissing you or your team or your school. I mean, they don't even respect their own school. One year, the football team was playing Cal (I think), and the team played so badly that the Band--already drunk--decided to take their frustration out on their own mascot. A few grabbed the tree and others began to urinate on it. They were pissing on their OWN mascot. I think someone later said they were just relieving themselves on the nearest tree... Hahahaha. These guys are out of control.

Anyway, Go Bruins! Beat the Cardinal...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Don't TGIF


an, this has been one hell of a week. I can't remember the last time I've felt so busy. Of course, I must blame a lot of it on poor time management... as if I should have to worry about such things. Thanks to the immigration interview prep and ultimate fiasco of last week, I had to put off some of my work, which led to the overload this week: extra papers to grade, letters of recommendations, blah, blah, blah... And did I mention my sister dropped into town on Wednesday night? I haven't seen her in quite awhile, so it was nice to talk to her. Not her fault, of course, but I wish the timing was better. I spent time grading instead of talking to her more.

In any event, I have some more work to do, and I will try to finish it off as quickly as possible.

  • Letter of recs--MatsukinSamba, Hanazakari
  • Grading--Readings quiz, Lit papers
  • Program newsletter--*sigh*
  • Midterm prep--Lit, Classical
  • Class prep--Genji teams.

The last item on the list is worrisome. Creating an exam is fine, but that also means I have to grade it. So should I create an exam that is challenging, one that induces, distinguishes, and acknowledges the abilities of my students? Or should I give them an easy exam--multiple choice, fill in the blanks, true/false--one that is easy to grade. Decisions, decisions.

Well, since I love my students, especially the good ones, I will likely create midterms that combine both, although perhaps heavier on the challenging side. Besides, I am a masochist at heart, all evidence to the contrary--my students will point to my daily/weekly quizzes and remind me of my sadistic tendencies...


Don't they realize it's all for them?

So it looks like my weekend is booked. The only down time will be spent watching my Bruin game--we play my other alma mater--and maybe sometime running...

So what are you guys doing this weekend?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Fingers on keyboard
I shut my eyes to focus
only to catnap...

I'm so tired. I'm in my office. Someone come and chase me home!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sports Entries


aturday's entry was about my beloved UCLA Bruins. They have been playing their brians and asses off, only to fin themselves as the number nine team in the Bow Championship Series ranking. This is quite an zccomplishment. Seriously. Those of you who have been reading me for the past two year know that I am very pasionate about my team, win or lose. Unfortunately, it has mostly been about losing, and it has been hard. But that doesn't mean that I've given up, and this year's team has been playing beyond expectation and I simply want to cry in happiness. I wanted to share a part of the drama I have gone through concerning my team in an attempt to express the passion I feel for my Bruins, thereby justifying my entires. Kinda stupid, I guess...

I was fortunate enough to receive comments from a couple of readers who actually read the long entry I posted on Saturday.

jerjonji: what drama! what plot twists and turns... maybe i could end up liking sports after all!!! :)

EnderSatomi: that's the most interesting thing about sports i've ever read. =) i don't know who i'd root for. Matt sounds kinda cool yet

Thanks guys. You make me happier than you can imagine. It WAS a long post, but it epitomizes my stronger-than-normal appeal for my alma mater. Now I don't feel so bad about writing about sports.

Go Bruins!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Former Teammate: Old friend, new nemesis

Update: UCLA 51 - OSU 28


nce upon a time, UCLA recruited two freshman as quarterbacks. Both were highly rated high school students, both in the top 20 of their class nationally. As you can imagine, this was quite a coup by the Bruins. But developing two quarterbacks at the same time seemed counter productive so the coach had one--Matt--redshirt his freshman year. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a redshirt means that a college student can be a member of the team, practice with the team and receive his scholarship, but he cannot play in a game. This allows the player an extra year of eligibility, a fifth year as a senior--for example, a redshirt freshman is usually a sophomore in school. The other advantage is that the team has extra time to develop a talented and promising student-athlete who might otherwise be a bit raw or undersized.

This was the case with Matt on both counts. He was tall, but a bit scrawny, and he had only begun to play the quarterback position in his senior year in high school. He had little discipline at the position--little patience to read the defense before delivering the ball--but his athleticism allowed him to play at an exceptional level and incited many colleges to go after him. UCLA won out. Drew, the other quarterback, had been a quarterback most of his football life. He knew how to lead and he was already pretty big as a freshman, so he remained on the team as a true freshman, the backup of the senior quarterback, Cory.

Everything was hunky-dory--well, as hunky-dory as a team that had self-imploded the previous year could be. Cory was a highly touted QB who turned out to be a bust; a DUI and involvement with a team parking lot scandal will change many young men. But as a senior he was the best the Bruins had and Drew backed him up, until the fifth game of the season when Cory broke his arm. Drew was called on and he performed adequately for two games when suddenly he was sacked hard and injured his shoulder. Left without a quarterback, the coach turned to Matt, asking him to give up his redshirt year for the team. Reluctant, Matt relented, wanting to be a team player. And lo and behold, he led the Bruins in a victory over Stanford in his very first start. This had the makings of a Cinderella story, except for the fact that the coach was a jerk.

The Back Story: Coach BT had proven for the past few years that he was only concerned with his own reputation, his own job. In 1998, he blamed the final losses to Miami and Wisconsin on his Defensive Coordinator and fired him. The following season, when the offense sputtered, the Offensive coach got the ax. In the year before Matt and Drew, a great running back named DeShaun had improperly "borrowed" an SUV long term from an actor. He viewed it as a favor. The NCAA viewed it as an infraction. But before the NCAA even ruled, the coach decided to sit DeShaun down. He was being strict, he said; he was being true to the spirit of NCAA sportsmanship. DeShaun was punished. Fortunately, we had other running backs; none as great as the DeShaun, but adequate, we thought. Then we lost three games in a row.

Before the last game against our arch rival U$C, another incident came to light. Cory, the quarterback had been arrested for a DUI during break the previous winter, but had failed to tell anyone in the administration, including the coach, about it. An arrest needs to be addressed with disciplinary action; an arrest that was kept hidden for months really needed to be addressed. A young man makes a mistake and drives drunk. Okay, say you're sorry and let's move on. But to hide it for almost a year is a different matter. This is not a mistake; this is a deliberate attempt to hide the truth. Despite the fact that we were playing our arch rival and had no decent quarterback to play in his stead, Cory should be suspended. But Coach BT could not chance losing. The season would be a disaster. So he made up an excuse about young men needing second chances and played him. As you can imagine, the uproar in the media and among fans was great. The coach was inconsistent; indeed, the coach played favorites. The fact that DeShaun was black and Cory was white only exasperated the situation. The Bruins, with Cory at the helm, ultimately lost to an out manned U$C team 21-0. On TV, you could see that the players were not playing very hard: missed tackles, fumbled balls. It was a debacle.

Fast Forward: So after Matt leads UCLA to a win over Stanford, there is a buzz among the faithful. Is matt the One? Is he our quarterback of the future? No. the next week, Drew is okayed to play by the medical staff and Matt sits down again, having burned his redshirt for the team. For one game. At the end of the season, after UCLA loses again to their dreaded nemesis, Coach TD is fired. He isn't even allowed to coach the team in their final bowl game; that's how bad it was. He had taken the Bruins to the edge of greatness in 1998 and then went into free fall for the next four years. UCLA decides to hire one of its own, Coach KD, a former wide receiver for the Bruins in the 80s and assistant coach for teams such as Washington, Colorado and the NFL's Denver Broncos. Matt wanted to transfer to another team. He had burned a year of eligibility already and did not really want to play for a coach who had not recruited him. But Coach KD talked to Matt and his dad and convinced him to stay another year, to try out his West Coast Offense (WCO).

Matt agreed, albeit reluctantly.

During Spring practice the following year, Matt performed horrendously. He had obviously not studied the voluminous playbook that is the WCO, and Drew out-performed him in every drill. Drew was the next quarterback, everyone touted. This lit a fire under Matt. He studied the playbook hard, learning as much as he could over the summer. And in Fall practice, he beat out Drew by a hair and was named the Bruin starting quarterback a week before the season began. But Fate is a fickle thing. In the second quarter of the first game of the season against Colorado, Matt twisted his knee and was sidelined for a few weeks. Coach KD, not wanting to discourage Matt, said publicly to the media that no player would lose his position due to injury, meaning of course that Matt would still be the starter when he came back. Of course, Coach KD did not anticipate Drew winning four of the next five games.

I'm fine, my knee's okay, Matt told Coach, but Coach KD found it difficult to tinker with success, to mess up the chemistry the team seemed to manifest with Drew. Matt began to make his case with the press: I'm good to go. I can play. Coach promised that a player does not lose his status due to injury.

Under this pressure, it only took one bad game by Drew for Coach to make the change back to Matt. But Matt sucked. He played two games and he performed miserably, far worse than Drew. So Coach decided to put Drew back in. Matt did not manifest his displeasure on the sideline or in practice. And while he did not say anything untoward about anyone, it was clear that he was upset. In the last game of the season against our arch rival, Drew was not having a particularly good game. The Offensive Coordinator talked to Coach via his headset, asking whether they should put in Matt in the last quarter. Coach told him no: "Drew needs this time to gain more experience for next year." Unbeknownst to both coaches, Matt also had his head set on and heard their exchange. He ripped off his headset and retreated to the locker room.

The next day he asked for his release, and Coach DK gave it to him...

Matt was lost. He thought of becoming a baseball player and was even drafted by the California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (?!?). But after a year in a community college, he decided that he wanted to play football after all, and through his former high school coach, found his way to Coach Riley and the Oregon State Beavers, where this year as a starter, Matt has led them to a 4-2 record and a stunning win over the California Bears.

Guess who we play today? Matt Moore and the Oregon State Beavers. And Drew is our senior quarterback. All week long the above story--which is mostly my recollection of things--has been rehashed to death by the LA media. One reporter from the Press Enterprise even tried to goad Matt into saying something volatile--something like, I have a grudge against Coach KD. But to his credit, Matt has remained calm. So has Drew.

So the stage is set. Two players who vied for the same position will now play against each other leading different teams. It is a time to settle, once and for all, who is the better quarterback. Drew or Matt. I should mention that for the last two years, many fans and media have painted Drew as a mediocre player. Indeed many have lamented the departure of Matt, citing Coach KD's ineptitude. (For the record, I have always believed in both KD and Drew) But Coach KD has brought stability to the program. The Bruins have had mediocre season the last two years, but he has brought discipline and responsibility; accountability and pride. He has brought teamwork to create a Team. It should not be a surprise that a significant number of players from the previous years have quit or transferred, unable to uphold the integrity that Coach KD demands. As an alumnus of UCLA, I am proud of the work he has done. For his part, Drew has never flinched, moped or complained about the criticism he has endured and the pressure put on him. He has been a class act throughout. I am truly impressed by this young man, and I am glad that he is now playing the best football of his life. He is 7th in the nation in QB efficiency. He has 15 touchdowns against thee interceptions, has let the Bruins to a 6-0 start and a #9 ranking in the first BCS, and has been named a semi-finalist for the Unitas Award for the best quarterback in college. Still, college football is a game of heart and spirit and guts. Matt Moore has every chance of upsetting us today.

And I'm sure--despite his cool demeanor this week--he would just love to do it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Five Weird Habits


ve been tagged twice recently... actually, more like last week. I would have written something ealrier but I've been busy with the immigration stuff and then by the work I put off while I was doing the immigration stuff. Okay, bad excuse, but that's okay. It's my excuse, and since this is my blog, I will accept it as valid.

So the first tag was from Taku. I will do Eechim's next, so if you're reading this, don't worry, I didn't forget you...

Five Weird Habits!?!

Do you know how hard this is? I mean think about it. What is a habit?

  1. An established custom
  2. A pattern of behavior acquired through frequent repetition
  3. Excessive use of drugs

All three definitions refer to activies conducted without much thought. That is, they are done automatically, spontaneously, without the actor thinking of what to do, right? So if this is the case, how do I know what my own habits are? If they are things I do without thinking, I may not actually know I'm doing them "habitually." It is just a part of my routine and they are not "weird" for if I thought they were weird, I would be thinking about them, no? Okay, sorry. I think my argument is turning circular...

In any event, in order to complete this task, I have asked others what "habits" I have and I was rather embarrased to find out what they are, and I am hard pressed to share them here with you. But share them I will, because if I didn't, then I wouldn't be The O-man. Hahhahaahha. Stop rolling your eyes.

So here goes, in no particular order...

  1. I fall asleep immediately after a full meal in front of the TV.
    Not necessarily weird? Well, according to M, what makes it fascinating is that I will be lying on my right side, with my right arm propped up on its elbow and my head resting in the palm of my right hand. I will sometimes sway forward or backward, but I will right myself and continue sleeping. My balance is so good that I can even do this on a workout bench--you know, the padded bench for chest presses. I'll be horizontal on the bench and be fast asleep in front of the TV relaxing after a round of weight lifting. M is quite impressed. Me? I didn't know it was a big deal. In fact, I don't even know I'm sleeping in such a precarious position until I wake up.
  2. I don't shower when I don't leave the house.
    Eeeeyoooou. Yes, I can hear you. I suppose this is a product of having lived alone for a few years, but when I'm at home alone, I will wake up, watch TV, eat a meal, do some work, whatever. I will go through the whole day without even thinking about taking a shower. And since the odor that I undoubtedly emanate develops slowly, my olfactory senses grow accustomed to the smell before I realize that something is afoul. I must admit, however, that by the third day--EEEEEEYOOOOOU!--I "feel" like I should shower... M really hates this, as you might imagine.
  3. I eat one thing at a time.
    When I eat a meal, I don't eat a little of this and then a little of that. If I start eating the salad, I will eat it until I'm finished. If I start on the soup, I will finish the soup before I start eating anything else. I come from a modest background so we weren't served meals in courses, so I don't know where I picked up this habit. But at a restaurant, I'm pretty okay, since salads and soups come at different times, but when the main course comes, I will usually eat one thing at a time. I will eat all the vegetables first, often each vegetable separately (unless it's a salad). If I start the baked potato, I will eat it until it's gone, then work on the broccoli, which I will finish before moving to the steamed carrots. Actually, I will eat the potato last, because it is the most filling. Don't want to be full if I haven't started my steak, yet. This too is something M noticed. I had no I dea I was eating like this until she mentioned it.
  4. I don't clip my toe nails, I rip them off.
    It's not as bad as it sounds. I have pretty healthy cuticles but my toe nails are soft for some reason and I can pick at them with my sturdy finger nails and then kinda peel them sideways. M always tells me to use the clippers, but sometimes it's too much trouble get up an retrieve them. I suppose this is not very hygenic, but then its not like I take my shoes of in the Metro and start my weird grooming habits.
  5. In class, I giggle all the time.
    Yes, I even asked a student of mine. I never thought about it, but I guess I laugh a lot. Sometimes I will say something that I think is funny. Often students will just roll their eyes, but I will chuckle nonetheless. Sometimes I will only think of something and chuckle. But rare is the class when I manifest a serious and sober countenance. I mean, how boring would that be? This student said that it was okay that I giggled because the students don't think I'm so much a freak. Some professors need to be professorial to keep control of the class. Some professor love to be buddy-buddy with the students but end up losing control of the class. I, apparently, can be both: professorial while keeping the students at ease. Maybe it's the giggles. Who knows?

I can't believe I'm displaying myself in all my weirdness... Oops, oh yeah, I'm supposed to tag five people, so I will tag the first five people who commented on yesterday's entry:

Your task is to list Five Weird Habits you have and then tag five other people. Be as explicit or modest as you want. It is, afterall, YOUR blog. Go to it, boy and girls.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

My Readers


t has been almost two and a half years since I began to blog back in June of 2003. I am not the most popular blog, certainly. I have seen sites that get thousands of hits and hundreds of comments daily. It is amazing. I often wonder if the recipient actually reads each comment. I imagine that it would take hours to read every one. As for myself, I have my share of readers, and most are pretty dedicated. There were times when I wondered if my subscribers actually read what I wrote, but occasionally I get a comment from a heretofore none quiet reader, someone who was moved to write something on a specific topic. I, in turn, am moved to learn that they are actually reading my humble words--I guess mostly on their own subscription page or by email. It is flattering. I must admit I never imagined anyone would want to read the drivel I come up with.

I am also a member of the Asian online community, the Rice Bowl Journal (RBJ). It is, as I have mentioned before, a site where bloggers of Asian heritage can commune with each other. Some have said that it is racist. I don't agree with this accusation, of course, otherwise I wouldn't have joined. It is, in any event, a place where a guy like me can meet others of similar backgrounds and share our thoughts and opinions. Although Carlos may not agree with my characterization, it is, for me, sorta empowering. We can all go there and be who we are without fear of beng prejudged--and being a minority in the US, there are times when I still feel separated from the mainstream, whether it's at work or in a bar.

Anyway, at RBJ, I have been "Quoted" again. This is my third time--I suppose Carlos, the head honcho over there, enjoys my drivel as well.

Consider Yourself Quoted
Author: Onigiriman
Journal: Onigiriman: Nice to bite, hard to swallow

Country: Japan
Location: Virginia, USA

"There is nothing that can replace words and language. It is at once abstract and concrete. A word, such as... say, "grass" is made up of four different letters, five in all--g-r-a-s-s--each of which have nothing to do with "grass", that green stuff covering the fairway of a golf course. And while it is an abstract comprised of totally unrelated "letters", when put together in the right way and order, it can convey a specific, concrete and real image of the green vegetation that grows in your front yard or maybe even fills your stash."
October 14, 2005

Besides being quoted, I have been bookmarked by a few members over there as well. While not every RBJer bookmarks, enough of those who do have placed me in the top three over there. A few more and I'll be in the top two. Any RBJer coming here who hasn't bookmarked me yet? By the way, I do not bookmark myself...

Anyway, I would like to thank all you Xangans and RBJers who read my stuff. It is an honor, believe me...

Tuesday, October 18, 2005



ho fucked up? CIS (Immigration)? The courts? Our lawyers? I don't know. Our lawyer said that today's interview was just a formality, so he didn't have to go and we should save our money. Well, that was not the case. It was anything but a formality. According to the CIS interviewer, we don't have the standing to re-apply for status because M already has status, that we should have filed for "removal of conditional status." He just rolled his eyes wondering what kind of lawyer we have. I called my lawyer and she said that they DID file for removal. It's just that INS is not talking to each other. The interviewer also did not know we had gone to court in August, saying that our court date was scheduled for December 7--isn't that Pearl Harbor day? This tells me that the court did not return M's permanent file to CIS in a timely manner. But as far as he was concerned, we had not even gone to court, that the matter was out of his hands and he could do nothing.

Great. We are still in limbo and my step-son, Chip, is in the middle, because we can't do anything for him until M's stuff is cleared up.

It is so freakin' hard to focus on what I should be doing--research, class, grading--when personal things go so freakin' wrong. I swear, I am losing it. Euthanasia. Now there's a word that is starting to sound attractive... just kidding. It would be too cowardly, and there are people who are suffering far more than us. At least we're healthy, albeit only physically... for the time being.


I need something to lift my spirits... Oh yeah! UCLA is still undefeated and DAMN! We're in the top 10 in the first release of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series or Bull Crap/Shit, depending on which school you go to). In August, I'm sure there were no Bruin fans who would have even dared to dream this. But this only lifts my spirits. M is a good sport and supports my die-hard college football fanaticism, but I'm pretty sure that this bit of news will do little to lift her spirits... Anyone got any suggestions?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Citizenship and Immigration Service


omorrow, M and I go to Immigration (CIS) for her interview. As I previously mentioned, our court appearance in August went well and things were going swimmingly. Two Fridays ago, M went for a medical exam so she could present the results to CIS along with the other documentation needed for tomorrow's 9:15AM interview. The documentation is voluminous.

  • M's birth certificate which is of course in Japanese, so...
  • Translation of documentation not in English. Of course no one at CIS speaks Japanese to check my English, so I also needed...
  • An affidavit stating that the translation is correct. Since I have a direct stake in the matter I cannot be the translator. I asked a colleague to look it over and state that the translation is correct.
  • Marriage certificate if the petition for permanent residency is based on a marriage.
  • An affidavit of our relationship from people who know us. This, of course, means they have to go to a Notary Public to get it notarized, a pain in the ass for them to put down in writing that, yes, we are in fact still married.
  • Documentation that we have a continuing relationship. This would include:
    • Photos: this is harder than it sounds as there are few photos with both of us in them since I an usually the one taking the pictures.
    • Bank statement: This too is a pain since our bank only puts the primary account holder on any documentation. So I have to go into the bank and have them draft an actual letter stating that it is a joint account.
    • Insurance: this was the only easy one...
    • Legal document. The only thing legal we share is a deed to our house, but since we bought it before we got married, it is in her maiden name, so I have to get further documentation confirming her previous name and her current name refer to the same person. Fortunately, all I need is the marriage certificate... I hope.
  • An affidavit of support which states that I will support M 'til death do us part, or something like that. Of course this support must be supported by further documentation proving I have the wherewithal to support her.
    • The last 3 federal income tax returns, with W2 forms.
    • A letter from my employer stating that, yes, I'm working.
    • My last two pay stubs as further proof that, yes, I'm working.
  • Documention that I am a legal resident/citizen, like my birth certificate--my passport expired...
  • Criminal record from Fairfax County, to make sure that M is not a felon.
  • There are other odds and ends: drivers license, social security card, etc...

M also needs the medical examination results mentioned above. They were supposed to be ready today, and I called time and again to see if they were, but they kept giving me the run around telling me to call later. By 3:30PM I had no choice but to cancel class because I wouldn't get there on time. By 4:30, they told me it wouldn't be ready today. So now I'm really stressing. I cancel class--something I rarely do, even when I'm sick--and I don't even have the examination results to show for it. "It will be ready tomorrow morning. We open at 9AM." OUR INTERVIEW IS AT 9:15, YOU COW... No, I didn't say that. I was just think that... Instead, I tried begging, pleading, please, please, is there now way? "Sorry" was all she could muster.

So, desperate, I contact our lawyer, and she says to just go to the interview and explain the situation. It shouldn't be too bad, she says. Our lawyer--actually, she's a paralegal, but she does most of the work for the actual lawyer who represents us, and she is pretty good and helpful and quite sympthetic to our situation--she's from Hong Kong originally, I think. We are lucky to have her. And she just tells me that I should relax...

So anyway, we're off to the interview tomorrow, and I hope things will go smoothly. I will try ot make it to class tomorrow, although I warned my first class that if I'm not there by the first 15 minutes, then they could just take off...

Why am I always so busy these days? If it's not one thing, it's another...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Cardiac Cubs, 44-41


he LA Daily News has dubbed my beloved UCLA Bruins the Cardiac Cubs. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. Losing for most of the game, only to pull it out in the end is not good for the heart. They survive Washington, stun Cal, and then go to Pullman, WA, to play Washington State, beathing them in overtime.

Okay, that may not sound like a big deal, but the Bruins had to come back in a game in which they were down by 21 points--twenty-one--TWICE. 21-0 and 28-7. Moreover, as if losing to Cal by 12 points, 40-28, in the 4th quarter before mounting a come back wasn't good enough, yesterday the Bruins were down by 17, 38-21, in the 4th quarter. I was completely prepared to deal with our first loss of the season. And with less than five minutes to play, we start our game tying drive from our own 4 yard line. That's a 96 yard drive, guys. Of course, in overtime, I was pretty confident we'd win. These guys are pretty amazing this year, but if they don't cut it out soon, I'm gonna have myself a coronary. Can we have an easy win, just once? I'm exhausted.


Anyway, I'm off this wonderfully cool and sunny autumn Sunday only to check and double check all the immigration documents we need for M's interview this Tuesday. Hopefully, this will end our permanent residency woes with the Citizenship and Immigration Service. This, too, has been a situation that hasn't been too good for the ol' ticker. Hope we get everything resolved. It has been the kind of stress that begins to affect the other aspects of my life. Well, there is only one other apect of my life--work--which is why football is so important to me. It is my only, I-can-forget-everything release. But still, really guys, how about an easy win?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Love to hate

burningsecrets: Hmm. I wonder what it would be like to be a student of yours.


ou are not the first reader to wonder this. Indeed, one reader--Daddylike?--once said something about giving his left nut to take a class of mine. Well, I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be with someone sacrificing body parts, but I do appreciate the thought. In any event, I think that wondering about me and my classes should be as far as you should go, at least if my students are any indication. Last year, I had a student who hated one of my classes. This year, I have a few who seem to hate me.

Now, I love to teach and I love my students. I have said this more than once or twice here. I will do anything and everything humanly possible to accomodate them, help them, encourage them. I am strict but fair (I think), encouraging but demanding--particularly in some classes. I can be funny and serious, and I always enjoy having fun with them--and I have been knows to perhaps go to far with a joke or remark. But this is, of course, because I feel comfortable with and close to my students. Some students think I give Japanese majors extra consideration. And I do, in a way, but not in the way they probably assume.

At the higher levels, Japanese becomes a challenging topic, particularly literary Japanese--bungo. And I figure anyone who rises to the advanced levels of Japanese and takes my classese must be pretty motivated, serious, dilligent. So what do I do? I push them even more. Yes, I give them extra consideration. Yes, I expect them to never miss a class. I expect them to prepare for every single class. I expect them to get 100% on every quiz and exam I give. Yes, I give students who want to test out of my class a hard-ass exam when they come back from Japan. I'm not sure if non-majors want this kind of expectation placed on them, and even if they did, I wouldn't because it is, quite frankly, exhausting.

Unfortunately, the "special" attention I give them has its drawbacks. Here is the official description of a new online group at school.

Ouch! They "love to hate" me? I just learned about this "Onigiriman rocks/sucks" group the other day, populated by a few of my students. Am I narcissistic? Maybe as narcissistic as anyone on Xanga who is willing to talk about his or her own life. While to some this may be tongue in cheek--a mere joke--it is painful to realize that there are students who would even entertain the thought that they "love to hate" me (or "hate the fact that they love" me--as if that were any better). This is not the fleeting "Oh, I hate you, sensei!" exclamation when a student looks at an exam, or when I give them a heavy assignment. It is the official description of a group on an online social network for schools for all to see and join. I hope that no one "official" sees it, like a colleague or *shudder* the dean. I'm sure it would raise an eyebrow or two.


Still, I doubt if I will change anytime soon. I will continue to strive to maintain a high standard and leave expectations level where they are. But I should reconsider gatherings at my place. Why would anyone who loves to hate me want to come to my place? I'd hate to think that they feel obliged to come when they don't really want to. And maybe office hours will be "strictly business" from now on... as it should be.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Spelling counts II


couple of days ago, I posted my thoughts on spelling. Writing is, in my books, an important way to communicate, and correct spelling goes a long way for the reader. Now, I realize that spelling is not everything, and I hope I didn't leave the impression that a misspelled word can ruin an otherwise wonderful literary event, as evil_vish pointed out.

I teach dyslexic boys how to read! I wish I could say that I agree, but actually, I don't. Even though I am completing an English Major at university, I believe that some people have genuine difficulty with spelling. They still have a message and a voice, they may even have a love for reading eventually, but they can not write it exactly as we prescribe. To me, it matters less than it used to. I like to spell things correctly, but I have learned since that English spelling used to be so much more variable. Shakespeare could spell the same word different ways on the same page, but his work remains outstanding.

Indeed, dyslexia is a serious handicap and those who have it truly have to work harder than others. But that shouldn't stop them from trying, nor should it prevent them from writing. I have a student who is dyslexic as well, but he rarely complains about my demands as he too realizes--I think--that others in the workplace may not be so forgiving and so he makes it a point, with my encouragement, to be vigilant. As instructors, we must encourage, but we must prepare them as well, I think. As for Shakespeare, different spellings can be a poetic choice, but it is also a product of little standardization. Today, however, we have more rigid standards--a product of greater and easier communication and dissemination of ideas. Standardization allows for easier reading and fewer miscommunications, I think. But this is not to say that words cannot be made up or misspelled given the appropriate context. Personal writing is a good example. If you go back through my blogs, you will find more than a few misspellings. And, of course, my grammar is rather loose and free-formed. I'm sure my high school English teacher would have a fit reading what I write here. But it is, perhaps, a form of expression--I write like I talk, for the most part--it is one of the many aspects that defines me. So when I say "spelling counts", I refer to academic and public--non-literary--writing, such as newspapers, government documents, policy papers, ad nauseum. But a personal touch on private writings, like Xanga blogs, is fine...

HattoriHanzo: i've always wondered how onigiriman reacts when he stumbles upon a xanga page full with typos. do you self destruct?

No, not quite. As I said above, certain liberties can be taken in private writings. I mean, if you wrote something meaningful, I wouldn't dis it because it had a couple of typos. but if it is a paper you handed in to me, then I would be a bit stricter, as writing for me at school is your time to practice writing for the real world, a public world. Of course, I have my limits with personal writings as well. Which is why I won't visit sites of peple who Rit3 Lik3 tHiS,dOOd.

wildkat03: Just FYI - I was actually taught in fourth grade to use "can not." I distinctly remember that teacher and those very specific instructions. Are you SURE this is incorrect?

I'm not about to refute or disagree with the claims of another. However, I was taught that "can not" is one word. I have had countless of teachers correct my spelling, and the word has finally stuck. The word can be separated when one wants to emphasize it: You can drink soda, but you can not drink beer. Here is a site I found that addresses this issue. Cannot vs. can not at Language Hat.

So how was everyone's Thursday? One more day and it's the weekend! Woo hoo!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Columbus Day


onday was a holiday, I think. Of course that didn't mean that I didn't have work... or class... Every school in the DC area had school off except us. According to my students, this is because our school is an "international school" International School? Ha! We are as international as Southwest Airline, the Greyhound of the skies. Well, I'm just as enthused about our "status" as an international school as my students are...

So, anyway, I asked if we should celebrate Columbus Day as virtually everyone else in the city is. All these eyes were looking at me with hope and gleeful anticipation.

"Yeah, let's celebrate Columbus Day! That's the spirit, Professor!"

I feed off of this kind of enthusiasm. Yeah, baby. Give me that look. show your expectation and anticipation and hope. I feel their emotions filling my body. I'm growing, getting larger, blowing up.

"Columbus came to America and discovered a beautiful land, a land abundant in natural beauty," I say with my own eyes wide open with joy. "Indeed, Sei Shonagon expressed her views of the most beautiful time of the day for each season. and in celebration of Columbus Day, we too should express our views of the beauty we have seen in and around our own birthplace."

And I go on to call on each student and have them tell the class what is the most beautiful season in the city or town they grew up in, as well as the most representative hour of the day in that season, a la Sei Shonagon. Those from Florida said Spring in the morning, before it rains in the afternoon. Others described the beauty of the clouds right before a tornado, and the various monochromatic shades of the snow on a sunny winter day.

It was a very nice class and I hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. Heheheheheheh...

BTW: Since it was a relaxed class--well, more relaxed than most--one particular student mentioned how he appreciated the joke on the first day of school, when I started the class in Japanese. I mentioned back at the beginning of September that it seemed that no one reacted in shock or horror, and that really bummed me out. Well, when this student mentioned this, a number of other students nodded in agreement. Apparently many of them were actually freaking out: "Is this Japanese literature class IN Japanese?" "Am I in the right class?" This bit of information was refreshing and rather pleasing--in a pixilated kind of way. Hahahaahha. As it turns out, even though I had class, it was a very nice Columbus Day.

So did you work on Columbus Day?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Spelling Counts


s an instructor of literature, I love words. It is expressive and conveys our thoughts and feelings at a distance. There is nothing that can replace words and language. It is at once abstract and concrete. A word, such as... say, "grass" is made up of four different letters, five in all--g-r-a-s-s--each of which have nothing to do with "grass", that green stuff covering the fairway of a golf course. And while it is an abstract comprised of totally unrelated "letters", when put together in the right way and order, it can convey a specific, concrete and real image of the green vegetation that grows in your front yard or maybe even fills your stash.

Be that as it may, for class, I have students write papers, giving them an opportunity to express their thoughts on a particular literary piece. I tell them that they must write clearly, succinctly and properly. Usually, clear and succinct are not a problem, but "properly" sometimes becomes an issue. Handing in a single-spaced paper is not appreciated. A hand-written essay is returned promptly--I won't even try to read it. And, of course, typos and spelling errors will bring a grade down significantly. As a paper written at home outside of class, the student has the opportunity to write and edit it without the immediate stress of a time limit, and so it should be perfect in this respect. It doesn't matter if it is a typo or a misspelled word; in either case, it detracts from the paper. One typical error is to spell the word "cannot" at two words: can not. Bad, bad, bad! Another one I often see is the word "lose" spelled with two "o"s. It drives me crazy when I read an otherwise fine sentence, such as "Kikuchiyo does not realize that he will loose his life."

"Loose his life"?!?

Does this mean all he needs to do is tighten it? When I see this, I want to scream, "One 'O'!".

"But it's only spelling," some will say. "Can't you understand it by its context?" others argue. True. But it takes away from the reading experience. It is a bump in the road, and it is the students duty smooth the path for the reader. Besides, school is where you hone your skills, practice self-discipline in preparation of "real" work. Let's say you get a job at a consulting firm, and you write a report for a client which includes the sentence, "Under these conditions, consumers will loose all interest in the product." Do you think your boss will be happy with this misspelling? Do you think that the "you can understand it in context" excuse will fly? Hardly...

I recently read an article somewhere about a refugee from Cuba who came to the U.S., who became successful after he "defecated". Okay, I'm sure the person meant "defected" instead of "shat", but I think you'll agree that certainly in this instance, spelling should count.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I'm Exhausted


apologize to all my non-football fans. There are three things that have kept me preoccupied this Fall: Work (and loads of it), M's immigration situation and all the legal hoops I have to jump through to get it resolved, and of course, FOOTBALL. I just can't stay away from it. It is the only thing that keeps me sane, that keeps me energized. It is my release from the everyday stress I am faced with at work and at INS--actually its CIS (Citizenship and Immigration Service) now.

So yesterday, the Bruins played Cal. An undefeated Cal. A Cal ranked in the top 10. THAT Cal. We were--for some inexplicable reason--favored by one an a half points. But Cal was ranked 10th in the nation. My beloved Bruins were ranked 20th. TWENTIETH! Man! It's been a long time since we were ranked that high.

So Cal comes in with their boy genius, Coach Tedford, and a running game that is truly awesome. Before three minutes have even elapsed, Cal scored two touchdowns. That's right. At the 12 something mark of the first quarter, Cal is already up 14-0. All I could do was convince myself that there was 57 minutes left... and UCLA need every one of them. They managed to catch up 14-14 by the beginning of the second quarter--whew, all they had to do was stay calm down, thought. But by the end of the half, it was 27-21 Cal, and in the fourth quarter, with less than 10 minutes to go in the game, it was 40-28. FORTY TO TWENTY-EIGHT!

I was about to cry.

At 9:17, with a 4th and two on our own 42, the Bruins excute a fake punt. Page takes the ball and rushes well beyond the first down marker, and we get even better position for a personal foul by a Cal player. I guess they were pretty pissed off to be fooled by a fake. The Bruins ultimately score a TD--Cal 40-UCLA 35--but the defense HAS to hold Cal and get the ball back for one more touchdown. This does not look promising, as Cal has been running all over the place. I scream at the defense (as if they could hear me). I turn my UCLA baseball cap inside out--rally hat--as if that would actually work. I'm beggin' pleadin' on my knees, "C'mon you Pac-10 refugees!" And we manage to hold Cal and get the ball back. But we're on our own 25 with 2:30 left. But in less than 90 seconds we march down for a TD. Mo Drew--whose grandfather had a heart attack at an earlier Bruin game and died the same evening--ran 20 yards to finally put the Bruins on top 41-40. But there is more than a minute left and Cal is indomitable, so I'm holding my breath and yelling at the TV screen at once--is that possible? The Cal QB Ayoob throws an interception right into the arms of Trey Brown--son of Bruin legend Theotis Brown--and we hang on. We run the ball to eat up the clock and... we score again with 0:00 on the clock. Cal 40-UCLA 47

My heart was racing. I was hyperventilating. Even M, who normally sits with me but is usually occupied with other things, was mesmerized. Sugoi (awesome). That's all she could muster. Me? I had a million words: Oh man! Great. Crap. Oh man! Exciting. Dude! Can you believe it? Exhilarating. Oh man! I love ya'! Exhausting. Oh man!... Okay, maybe not a million, but more than M.

So anyway, that was my Saturday night. How was yours?

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I Finished! Barely...


ell, I'm finally finished... I think. I sent my stuff to the editor on Saturday night... or was it Sunday morning? The UCLA game started at 10:15 over here on the East Coast and I wached most of the first quarter as I ate dinner, but turned off the TV... I TURNED OFF THE BRUIN GAME! Can you imagine?!? M was REALLY impressed. She gave me a, "This paper must be pretty serious" look... As a university instructor/scholar, I am required to research and publish, although my teaching load offers little time to do this. So when I have the chance, yeah, I gotta be serious.

So, anyway, it's past 11:00 on Saturday night, and I'm supposed to send the paper in by... Saturday. Not that it matters I suppose. She said anytime Saturday and i figure she's going to read it on Sunday, but still. I want the email dated Saturday, so I'm tryng to type as fast as I can, trying to stay focused on the task at hand. But in recesses of my mind, I hear, "Bruins are losing... They must be hearning half time..."


Alright, already!

Well, I finish at 11:50 PM or so, and write an email, outlining exactly how i repsonded to the issues she raised in her feedback. 1-2-3, attach file, send.

I look at the clock. 12:04 AM. This Cinderella has turned into a pumpkin. Oh well, I send in the paper anyway, rather sad that I couldn't send it in by midnight. I head dowsntairs to turn the TV back on. I'm sure that the way UCLA has been playing, that it should lift my spirits a bit. Third quarter has just started and... and... and... UCLA is losing to lowly Washington 10-0!

Oh, noooooooooooooooooo!

Fortunately, as I squrim and cringe for the next hour or so, the Bruins find it within themselves to score three touchdowns, the last one on the final drive to take the lead for the first time and win 21-17.

Whew. That was a close one. We dodged a bullet. The Bruins barely won and I got my paper in, just barely late. Oh well...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

No, I'm not finished...


o, it has nothing to do with the Bruins, although that in and of itself would be reason enough. But no, that is not it. Yesterday, I got a call from an old friend who happened to be in town, and we went drinking (I will talk about him later)... and I am now paying for it. I am working furiously to get this paper out sometime today to my editor. I am addressing the issues she raised in her feedback. Aaargh! What am I doing on Xanga?

Thank God the Bruin game is on late tonight. A 7:15 PM kick-off at the Rose Bowl means a 10:15 game here on the East Coast so I have the rest of the day to focus on my work. I WILL GET IT DONE! I have to, because I must see my belolved Bruins spank them Huskies from the University of Washington. UCLA's offensive engine is purring like a dream and I doubt that the UDub doggies can stop it--as long as UCLA stays focused on the task at hand. Quarterback Drew Olson was named Pac-10 offensive player of the week and the Sporting News National player of the week after we beat Oklahoma. He has developed into a fine QB after taking a lot of heat the past two years. He is proving that he has the skills; he was perhaps under-achieving. But we must contain the doggies' QB Stanback. He is mobile and has a good arm. But I am sure our D will focus on him. If they do that, the game should be over rather early. But still, they shouldn't overlook them.

Speaking of which, I shouldn't overlook my work. Time to get back to the grind...