Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I love my job

I've got stories about this day but it'll have to wait until for another day.

Oh, and


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

One week and counting...

Here's the first Jack-o-lantern I've made this year.
I'll be bringing him to most of my classes this week

-if he survives!

I ordered the pumpkin off the internet for about $20 (from costco in Japan).

Sounds expensive but it was totally worth it when I stuck my hand in for the first time to scoop out pumpkin seeds! I love this holiday.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Part II

This weekend was full of entertainment.
First of all, I went to my 6th live sumo event.
Kirsten and I jumped in her car Saturday morning and spent the day at Ariso Dome in Uozu city watching our favorite sumo wrestlers, or better yet, sumo stars. They really are celebrities, just as hockey players and ball players are back home.

This guys's waiting for the bus. No, seriously, he is.

The official name for a sumo wrestler is 'rishiki'. There are various ranks of rikishi and that rank determines the order they will fight in any given match or tournament. Lower levels go first. These are usually the younger athletes whose size and strength might dominate even some of the higher level rikishi, yet sit at the bottom while they strive to acquire the technical skills needed for sumo.

These guys are helping the Yokozuna (the highest ranked rikishi) tie a huge white cord around his waist.

Here's the result.

I have been up close to some of my favorites in the past, and this year was no exception. I still have a hard time pushing my way through a crowd to get a good photo, I see these guys first as athletes and don't want bother them by asking for a photo. However the temptation is pretty strong at times and Kirsten and I managed to get a few shots of ourselves with some of the high level rikishi.

After the sumo exhibition we went to Toyama, had a great dinner at Santoshi, an Indian restaurant I really enjoy, and then went to a live theatre production to watch my friend Lee's puppet performance.

Lee is a 4th year JET like me, and a good friend. He came to Toyama years before becoming a JET with a puppet production company and then ended up here again when he applied for the JET Programme. In his spare time he works with theatre groups to produce some amazing puppetry.

This latest endeavor involved a group of musicians and throat singers from Mongolia! Together they retold the popular children's story "Suho's White Horse".

The music on it's own was beautiful -especially the vocals. But combined with the visuals created by a wonderful variety of puppets -marionettes, shadow puppets and even life sized puppets, it was truly a wonderful evening of entertainment.

Outside the theatre a traditional Mongolian house had been erected for people to enter, view some photographs, and try a type of milk tea common to Mongolia.

So a very special congratulations to Lee for a great performance!

Next on the entertainment list was Kirsten's swim meet on Sunday. I got up and drove to Toyama to watch (with some envy) as she swam her events for the Master's Swim Meet.
Great job Sista K, I really enjoyed watching your swims.

Lastly, the icing on the cake was that my FAVORITE AUNT sent me season two of "Corner Gas". I've almost finished watching all 18 less than a week. Oh, come on, you all know they're addicting!!! Thank you M for spoiling me to death (that included the stickers and Wee Sing book too!!!)

A great weekend of entertainment, don't you think?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Feels like high school... know, you leave your homework until Sunday night? That's how this blog feels. I've been putting it off all week, and now it's Sunday night and it seems like there's too much to do in just one blog.

I've got two themes to this post, one is first aid. The other is entertainment.
Totally unrelated, I know.

Let's start with 'first aid' shall we? At the beginning of the week there was a grade 2 student who got hit in the face with a ball at my school. He came into the staff room with a scraped knee, a fat lip and bleeding gums. The school nurse was off on a school field trip with the 6th graders, so the homeroom teacher was responsible for him. She got on the phone right away and called his mother. Sounds reasonable. She then called the hospital and told them that he'd be coming in -another good idea. What she didn't do however, was TREAT THE CHILD. I sat and watched as he bled and sniffled, teachers walking by tsking and shaking their heads, "poor kid". BUT NOBODY DID ANYTHING FOR HIM!!

I turned to my Japanese Assistant Teacher and said, "Somebody needs to get that boy some ice." Her response was, "Oh, but the nurse isn't here today, and besides, they've called his mother."


I repeated my concern for his swelling lip and she shrugged and said that he'd be going to the hospital soon.


Does this seem totally lame to anyone else? The boy's lip was huge and only getting bigger. The teacher left the room so I went to the refridgerator and got an ice pack for him. I wrapped it in tissue because I didn't know where to find clean, sanitary towels or cloth. As I was handing it to him the teacher came back in and said to the boy, "Oh isn't Linea-sensei so nice, how thoughtful of her."

First aid:

Pronunciation: "f&rst-'Ad
Function: noun:
emergency care or treatment given to an ill or injured person before regular medical aid can be obtained
Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary, © 2002 Merriam-Webster, Inc.

You don't have to be trained in it to do it -it's common sense. Or so I thought. As someone who has been trained, this was a very uncomfortable situation for me and I couldn't stand by and not do anything, even though I had basically been told I shouldn't.

This led to a whole discussion with my JAT about how I have observed a total lack of training in first aid in this country. I told her how most people in North America get at least a basic level of first aid training as a requirement for many jobs -and that it's especially important for teachers or anyone who works with children. She admitted she hadn't really thought about it before.


Then Thursday when I arrived at school I was informed that a 3rd grade student from another Kurobe City elementary school had collapsed and died during a basketball practice the night before as a result of vetricullar fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm).

He had done one lap and suddenly fell over. He tried to get up, but fell over again.

Now here's the concerning part: according to my JAT, there was no coach, manager nor teacher in the gym at the time. Only parents. Of course they called the ambulance once they realized the seriousness of it. However, they didn't think to contact any of the staff at the school.

Now, nobody can predict what could have happened had a teacher been called, but perhaps had a teacher been contacted they would have been able to administer some kind of first aid while waiting for the ambulance. At least I would hope so.

I would like to point out at this time that since two similar deaths have occured in the last two years in Nyuzen Town, pretty much every school has now been equipped with
AEDs(click) (Automatic External Defibrillators). As a Nyuzen High School staff member I was given a 3 hour seminar in how to use this device, as well as a quick CPR lesson. I was astonished at my coworkers' complete lack of knowledge in first aid.

Having an AED machine in a school doesn't mean that every staff member knows how to use it, but that's part of the reason for AED machines -they are designed to be used by trained or non-trained individuals. Perhaps had the parents called a staff member, the would have been able to at least try to used the machine before the ambulance arrived. But it sounds like very little was done.

It's a horrible tragedy, and I can't help but feel that more could have been done for this child. As a parent, wouldn't you want to know what to do if your child (or any child) collapsed, started choking, or was bleeding? You don' t have to be able to set a bone or stitch a gaping wound, but shouldn't you at least know how to stop the bleeding for the time being or in more serious cases open an airway, check for breathing and circulation?

Finally as a last note on this topic, today while watching Kirsten's swim meet there was a woman who apparently had a very bad cramp or some other immobillizing condition in the last 25 of her swim. I watched from the stands as 5 or 6 people walked along the deck watching her way out in lane 5 struggle to get herself to the end of the lane. Finally when she was about 10 feet from the wall another swimmer jumped in to try and help her.

Are you thinking what I was thinking?

Where the hell was the lifeguard. Your guess is as good as mine. One of the first things I noticed when I started swimming in Japan was the complete lack of rescue equipment on deck. Nothing. They must be really adept with a flutter board...

Anyway. So, instead of this woman getting out on the side, she struggled to the end of the lane and then got out on the side. She was a larger woman and I cringed as I watched 4 people try to drag her up out of the water at the ladder. Where is the @!$%$#%ing protocol in this country? Finally she was flopped over onto the deck where now 10 people hovered over her. They brought out a mat and haphazardly yanked and dragged her over to it (instead of sliding it underneath her)....sigh.

Remind me never to get injured in this country.

It's late, I'm tired. I'll leave the entertainment part til morning...before class.