Friday, November 30, 2012

Who we are behind closed doors

"It`s funny that public figures fear private communications leaks...yet we in the private sector never think about it...just saying"

This is a tweet that I sent out that got me thinking. It got me thinking about who we are and who we appear to be. 

There are a `million` scandals every year involving celebrities, high ranking government officials, and other public figures. For me one of the most famous and highly televised affair involved former President Clinton back in the 90`s.   

At the time I wasn`t really mature enough to really understand what was going on. (I was only 12 years old at the time.) Yeah, I knew the president was messing around with someone(s) other than his wife. Yeah, I knew that was wrong but I didn`t really view this incident the same way that I do now. Nor did I find a practical application to my life.

Now I`m not going to use this post to admit to anything publicly so you should probably stop reading if you want some sort of dirt on me. Chances are though, if you are reading this, you probably know me pretty well and don`t need any more dirt on me than you already have. 

Why is who we are behind closed doors so important? In my opinion this is directly tied to our credibility as to who we truly are as human beings. If I stand in front of you all day telling you not to smoke then go home and light up that makes my message irrelevant. Not only does it make it a useless message but it starts this snowball affect. You then to begin to question why I don`t believe my own message. You also question everything I`m saying and whether or not it can be trusted.

Here is where it gets Biblical...sorry...but not really. If as a Christian if I tell you that sin xyz is wrong yet go home and do xyz what happens to my (not really my) message. Simply it becomes useless. Far too many times Christians  preach what they aren`t practicing. I would say 100% of the time this happens. Why? Because Christians do not magically become immune to things. There are zero accounts of Christians in the Bible becoming 100% perfect after becoming Christians. 

So why preach? Why listen to preachers? Why even go to church? 

Because there are Christians out me...who will be the first to admit that we don`t have all the answers and we don`t have it all figured out. They will admit that they struggle with things just like everyone else. There are actual people, Christian people, who are willing to have an open discussion about what they believe. Admit to not understanding why they believe it 100% of the time and who will admit to their flaws.

This whole thing might have gotten a bit off topic but the statement still stands. Who we are behind closed doors should be the same as when those doors are wide open. Truth`s not like that. We all have secrets and things that we don`t want public. From little things like emails, private Facebook messages, and secrets that are much darker. 

What`s the point...should it even matter? Yeah, it should! Especially for people who are going to claim to `know it all`...maybe most importantly for those.   

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

And...I`m Back! And getting all political in your face!

So, I`m back from a rather lengthy hiatus. Not for any particular reason other than the fact that I have been mostly video blogging since I have been in Japan. At this point I would be remiss to not share the link with you but you can find my YouTube site here as well as my Facebook Fan Page here.

Now, with that out of the way I would like to talk about something that will be sure offend no one. Politics  Haha...but, seriously that`s what I`m going to do.    

It is election time back in the states and nothing gets people more excited to click the `share` button on their favorite politicians Facebook page quite like it. It is also the time of year when people throw all civility, judgment, and logic to the wind.

I don`t care which side you find your self on (as if politics could some how be boiled down to two sides) but people seem to forget a simple fact. It is election time, and no matter who you listen to both sides are trying to get your vote. Meaning this...they are going to say whatever they need to say to get your vote.

Now, I`m not saying that all politicians are liars and don`t truly care for the people, but why do you think politicians spend so much money campaigning? They want their message heard and they want you to buy into what they have to say.

Think of it this way. Why do pharmaceutical companies spend so much money on commercials for their products? You can`t just go to the store and buy those medications. You have to go to your doctor convince him/her that you have whatever this magic pill is going to cure so he/she can then prescribe it to you.

Politicians know that they can`t succeed without your vote. So, they tell you what you want to hear and promise you to cure whatever issues you are having. They will tell you that the issues you care so deeply about are the same issues that they value.

I recently watched The Campaign, a movie about two politicians battling to be a congressman. At one point in the movie Will Ferrell is talking to different groups of voters. He is saying the same exact thing to each group but just changes the ending to fit whatever group he is talking to. It`s funny but also a reminder of how politics today have become.

I don`t want this to sound like I`m saying that all politicians are no more than snake oil salesman. Yes, there are those out there that get by on taking the facts and twisting them to fit their agenda. There are politicians on both sides of the isle that couldn`t care less about how much you want equal rights, fair wages, bringing home the troops, ending bailouts, or whatever hot button issue you `Like` on Facebook. But, there are also politicians that do care. Who have genuine interest in making our country better. Your goal should be to seek out those men and women.

My goal is to remind all of us (including myself) to remain civil. How can we EVER hope that the people we  elect will ever be united if we can`t stop hating each other. I see it all the time on Facebook...`look what this idiot said`, `look how stupid people are who think this way`, `man this group is so close minded and dumb`.

Enough! I have come to hate logging into Facebook each day for a simple reason. I can`t take people opinions on things when they are strictly based in hate and a desire to tear other people down.

You can follow me on twitter at higgins82, like my Facebook Page (which isn`t political at all!) and subscribe to my YouTube channel (also not political)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I am the Most Predictable Person...on Earth!

It`s here…Summer break is here!

After being in Japan for 4 months, my first part of teaching is finished. For those who don`t know here in Japan the school year starts about the second week April and runs till about the second week of July. This of course varies from school to school but it`s generally the same time. Then summer break. The rest of July and August is summer break. School then starts back up in September with a break in December for the winter. There are a few smaller breaks here and there but for the most part school is year round.

This has been my first experience teaching this way and after 4 months I don`t feel as if I have an opinion on if I like it. I will say that I don`t hate it so please don’t misread that. I just haven`t been here long enough to form an opinion. Although, if pressed for an answer I would say that I really like it so far. So, there…I like it!

In the 4 months that I have been in Japan I have learned a lot about the people I work with as well as myself. I will save you from the sappy touchy feely self revelation stuff. Something I already knew, and have said before is that living abroad isn`t for everyone.

I know I have told the story here before but after my first trip to Japan I knew I wanted to live here. For others on that trip it was a wakeup call that maybe they weren`t cut out for life away from their comfort zone, which is great! You certainly don`t want to experience that once you have moved your life to the other side of the world. Culture shock can be a cruel cruel thing!

That being said learning the ins and outs of a culture can be one of the most exciting things. Learning how people live, work and learn exposes you to so much. Experiencing new and amazing things (and as I say that I was just harassed by a school board member who saw me at a restaurant last week and laughed that I was only getting a medium…)

This is Japan! This isn`t your mothers country! Once you think you have things figured out everything changes, but that is the exciting part. I have met so many amazing people since I have been here, some from other countries others from Japan. These past 4 months have flown by and I can`t wait for the next 4 months. I have no idea what is going to happen but I`m glad…I hate predictability (haha…I`m like the most predictable person on Earth!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Motivation...It`s Up To You

Things I have learned while working. I am 30…which means I`ve had a few jobs in my day…and starting out a blog like that makes me sound super old. Anyway! As I sit here and contemplate my previous jobs I would be amiss if I didn`t learn anything…from any of them!

16 years old. My dad came home with an application for Dairy Queen. He wanted me to apply. I was content with playing Playstation. But, I wanted a car and that wasn`t going to come cheap. So, I filled out the application and set history in motion.

At Dairy Queen I learned how to work under pressure. I ran the drive through most of the time and you had to keep that line moving! Filling orders with speed as wells as precision is a must!

I also learned how to work alone and keep myself motivated. Since I was homeschooled I was the only employee who could open the store in the mornings and work through lunch. Despite the owner being there she rarely helped out (well if we were super busy she would help) and I was determined to get through the lunch hour on my own.

18 years old. I got a job working for the competition. I was offered better pay at a competing ice cream restaurant in town. At that job I learned that older people can be really set in their ways and fear change. The owner had been doing things his way for years (he also owned a storage business and garden shop). Everything had to be done his way or it was wrong.

18 years old. I started working for Target. At target I really understood the teamwork mentality. Now, I didn`t love every second of my time there, the store manager would never let me work any shift other than 3rd. (The turnover rate was so high and I had been there for 3 years…longer than anyone. He took advantage of the fact that I was dependable.) I also learned how to have fun at work. I met a lot of people and had fun at work. The problem was, as mentioned above, the turnover rate was so high that it made making friends at work hard.

22 years old. After quitting/walking out of Target I was offered a management job working for Hess. They are a gas station and convenience store for those of you who don`t know. At Hess I learned that you can trust no one! I learned that people will stab you in the back without hesitation. The story is far too stupid to tell but needless to say they ended up paying my unemployment for 6 months!

22 Years old. I took the job as an assistant youth pastor. I moved out of my parents house and moved into an apartment I shared with my older sister. I worked at the church for 4 years and learned many things! But, I think the most important thing I learned was to stick to your guns. If you know you are doing something right and there is proof of your success you can`t listen to the doubters. Many times I faced opposition out of pure fear. Fear for changing the old ways, fear of doing something different. But, I stuck by what I knew was right.

26 years old. While working for the church I started going to college. I was also working at GameStop part time. Once I left the church I was working at I started at GameStop full time. I worked there while I was finishing college.

What did I learn at GameStop? Well…I learned this. That if you get robbed at gun point don`t expect your District Manager to care at all. Also, I learned how to deal with some of the dumbest people in the world!. (Customers! Not Employees!!) I also, made some amazing friendships! I also sadly learned that `Tiny Dancer` is not part of the Rock Band track list…

I write all of this to say one thing. I don`t regret any of the places I`ve worked. Nor do I want to bash any of the places I have previously worked. Some places were great and other places where less than stellar. But, in the end I learned something for each and every experience. Had I not learned anything my time there would have been wasted.

So, no matter where you are take time to learn something from it. There is no experience too small and no job too menial. You can learn from every experience. It`s up to you to decide whether or not that experience was worth it.   

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

3 Months In Japan

I often think about the impact I have as a teacher.

When I was in second grade a teacher (not my normal teacher, it was a teacher from down the hall) sat us down and told us about an assignment that she had for us. We all sat in wonderment as to what she would have us do. She slowly began to take stacks of magazines, newspapers, and fliers and placed them on a long table at the front of the class.

"I want you to take a magazine and I want you to find a picture of anything. But it needs to be a profession. Something you want to do when you are older. What do you want to be?"

"Are you kidding me? What do I want to be!? Is this my lucky day? Because, if it I'm going to ace this project!" I thought to myself.

I grabbed a People magazine, a few sheets of blue construction paper, and glue. I found my way back to my desk and started flying through the magazine.

"Where is he...I know he has to be in here somewhere. I have to find him!"

I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I knew who and what. Then when and where would work itself out, I was sure of it. And then, there he was. Padded vest, jean jacket, and acid wash jeans. Michael J. Fox

Could it get any better?? Marty Mcfly, Teen Wolf, Alex P Keaton!! This was it! I made sure to cut carefully and precisely. As each cut was made I imagined what my life would be in the future. "Andrew Higgins", my name in lights! Who knows, maybe Mike...(we were friends so I could call him that) and I would get to be in movies together. At the very least we would be best friends. Going to parties, driving around Hollywood, and just being the best of friends.

As I finished cutting out Mike I placed him on the blue construction paper. I didn't put the glue on right away because I wanted to make sure he was positioned correctly on the paper. I managed to look around to see my other classmates progress, only to see that I was the only one who and already picked someone out of the magazine. Clearly this wasn't any easy choice for anyone but me. I regained focus on my work and when I decided where I wanted Mike on the paper I applied the glue and firmly placed his picture on his new background.

"How am I the first one done?? Oh well, this is great. Me and Michael J Fox, actors, friends, and pretty cool guys."

I stood up and made my way to the front of the class. I placed my masterpiece on the teachers desk and waited for her approval.

"What's this?"

"Oh, this is Michael J Fox (clearly!) I want to be an actor when I grow up!"

"Do you know how many of my classmates wanted to be actors when I was in school?"


"Most of them. And do you know how many actually became actors?"


"None of them. You aren't going to be an actor. You need to go pick something different."

That is where the story ends in my memory. I have no idea what I settled on. Was it a doctor or a fireman like so many of other classmates? Was it a construction worker or maybe a taxi driver? I honestly have no idea. The only thing I can remember is the crushing blow this "teacher" left me with. A second grader with hopes, dreams, and aspirations. A second grader who now has to settle for less than perfect.

This whole story leads me back to my opening sentence. What impact do I have on my students. I truly hope that I am 100% nothing like this second grade teacher! If I am anything less than supportive, encouraging, inspiring, caring, investing...then I am not being a teacher. I am being a baby sister. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Japan Checklist (Photo Blog)

I've done a lot of things since I have been in Japan. Here is a short list, with pictures! Enjoy!

Attend a cherry blossom festival

Get lost in my own school

Get lost in my own city

Plant rice

Participated in earthquake drill (Not my picture!)

Participated in attack the stranger drill (stranger played by me)

Buy Gundam figures

Hang out with a person that cosplays (Not my picture!)

Learn lots of Japanese... OK maybe not

Friday, June 29, 2012

Not so much of a rude awakening…but kinda

I’m trying to think how to phrase this in the most PC way possible…Grow up!

There I said it…now on to more important points of business. Some people ask me questions about why I decided to move to Japan. Why would someone leave everything that is comfortable and trade it in for something unknown? Honestly, it`s a pretty valid question and I honestly can say that it`s pretty crazy. But, you know me, you know why I`m here. I don`t need to explain the need for me to be in Japan.

There have been some along the way that wanted to change that dream, they wanted to alter my vision of being a teacher in Japan. Thankfully they did not succeed and I can write this from the comfort of my desk…in Japan.

Now days, I face different kind of challenge. There is a new way of thinking and new insight into this world of teaching in Japan. Not without reason it has caused me to look carefully at my decisions, question those I trust, and to some existent has caused me to be on guard. It`s not like a rude awakening it`s more of a gentle shaking. It`s a reminder to who I am and why I teach. I teach for many reasons but I feel that there is maybe one main reason…along with several other important factors.

The main reason I teach? The kids, plain and simple. I am their gateway to a new world (please bear with me…I know this is going to sound cliché!), a new way of looking at the world. Just as I have a new perspective on life these kids are finding out that their world reaches far beyond the Pacific Ocean.

Please don`t read into that last statement too much. I`m far from the best NLT to step off the plane, but I know the tremendous responsibility of being a teacher. Is everyday Sakura blossoms and tiny chocolates shaped like mushrooms? No! I`m not going to sit here and say I don`t have my share of issues. Sometimes it`s a class that just won`t react to a lesson. Other times it can be a breakdown in communication between any number of people. At the end of the day, I`m teaching English for one reason, the kids. I know that all sounds very recycled and generic but it`s honestly the truth. Do I teach for a paycheck? Sure. Did I take a teaching job so I could live in Japan…of course. But, when I step into that classroom there is one thing on my mind. `I need to get these kids using English`.

I would hope that this is the desire of every NLT here in Japan. I would be a fool to think that is the case. Culture shock can suck sometimes…pretty much most of the time. Being separated from your friends and family is not a decision some people can make. I don`t want to say it was easy but I knew that I was supposed to be teaching in Japan. I`m also not going to try and say that culture shock is something easy to overcome. The thing is for me, I`ve wanted to live in Japan for such a long time, culture shock either hasn`t hit me yet, or it`s not going to.

This all leads me back to my opening statement. I know I`m older than a lot of people here in Japan. I also know that saying this is going to make me sound even older. But, grow up! Really think about why you are here in Japan. Is it to get hammered drunk every night after work? Is it to take teaching lightly? Is it to be selfish and put yourself before your students needs? Are you really too cool for school? Because, if you are, we probably should never talk about…anything…ever. I know why I`m here. If you don`t know why you are teaching in Japan you are truly in for a rude awakening.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I Sing Along With the Water Heater

I often find myself in strange situations in Japan. It`s becoming quite the normal habit for people around me to have conversations in Japanese and not explain what they are saying.

The grounds keeper at school in one such person. He will often say hello to me (which is normal when passing other teachers in the hall) but then he will go into long detailed descriptions of what I can only imagine are stories about fishing trips or the good ole days with him and his friends. Most of his conversations consist of laughing and joking with me. So, I laugh and joke back, shaking my head in agreement. This is quickly followed by me walking away not having the slightest clue as to what just happened or what I might have agreed to do.

Other times it will be completely random people I`ve never met before. About a month ago I was at the cherry blossom festival with some of my friends. There were many booths set up and vendors selling everything from cotton candy to okonomiyaki (my favorite!). I approached one booth and saw they were selling some sort of bbq meat on a stick. It looked good and was cheap so I decided to buy some. Without warning a little old Japanese lady jumped out from behind the booth.

Little Old Lady `Hello!` she shouted
Me `Oh, hello.`
LOL `Where are you from!` still shouting
Me `America, I`m from...
LOL `Great!` still shouting `You like cow?`
Me `Sure, I`ll take 3`
LOL `This is cow knee!` still shouting and now hitting me in the leg
Me `What?!`
LOL `Cow knee!` again hitting me in the leg
Me `OK, why are you hitting me?`
LOL `Cow knee` Hitting me again

I`m pretty sure she would have kept hitting me if I wouldn`t have bought my cow knee and walked away! By the way, the cow knee was pretty good!

Finally, and certainly not by far the strangest thing that happens to me on a daily basis. I sing along with the water heater when it finishes heating up the water. Just a little clarification, everyone owns a water heater here in Japan. It`s a great device for heating up water for tea, soup, coffee, or whatever you might need scolding hot water for. And, because it was made in Japan it plays music when it is full of hot water. The first few times I though someone had just left their phone on and I had no idea where it was coming from. Then, one day, I was washing my hands and I heard it again. This time I was close enough to figure out where the sound was coming from.

These are my adventures in Japan. Most people aren`t going to think that there is anything out of the ordinary with what goes on here. But it`s the little things that stick out to me and make me laugh.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How a Very Fake Knife Almost Ended My Very Real Life

I have been to many schools over the years. I grew up in Texas, lived in Detroit for a while and spent the rest of my time in Pennsylvania. Throughout those years I experienced many different things relating to emergency procedures at school. In Texas we had tornado drills. Detroit...I was home schooled so I didn`t really have an emergency procedures in place. And, when I was in PA the college I went to had many different things in place to ensure our safety...

Now, I live in Japan and things are no different. There are fire drills, earthquake drills, and tsunami drills. All, are pretty common place and I have experienced something similar during my time in school. My school, also has stranger drills. If someone comes to school with a weapon with the intent of hurting someone there are things the teachers do to contain that person. Again, I understand the need and see it`s purpose.

What makes this story different is how I was asked to play the stranger on the school grounds. This idea was obviously kept a secret, just as the exact time and date of a fire drill, if only to insure its effectiveness. I was approached by a teacher and asked if I would be OK for me to play the stranger...I very quickly agreed and began to plan what I would do.

The teacher and I went through a mock run of what I supposed to do, a dress rehearsal if you will. We planned where I would go, what I would do, and my weapon of choice; a homemade knife made of paper and aluminum foil. (The foil of course adding to the realism of a blade.)

I had my plan, I was in position, and was waiting for my signal. I pulled the hood up on my jacket over my head and pulled it snugly down. A mask, usually used for people with colds was secured on my face with only my eyes noticeable. And the homemade knife, nicely slid up the sleeve of my jacket. Then, it happened. I saw the signal, it was time for me to move.

I quickly made my way up a short flight of stairs and proceeded to throw open a sliding door. Students, unsure of what was going on jumped and began to make their way to the safety of the exit. The teacher (obviously playing the part) slid desks in front of me as I yelled and cut the air with my paper knife. I knocked a few desks over and pushed my way to the main hallway eager to chase down anyone I could find.

Then I saw it, a pack of teachers running at me at full force. Two had chairs that they used like a lion tamer, hoping to hold me back. While a third wield a 7 foot long poll with a padded `u` shaped device at the end to subdue me.

Then a forth teacher appeared. Obviously, she was in shock. The look of terror on her face was not the same look the other teachers had. She was in protection mode and was going to stop me no matter what. I could see that she was unarmed but she was scanning the hallway for something that could be used as a weapon. Then she saw it...a red fire extinguisher fastened to the wall. She asked one of the other teachers what to do...should she pull it off the wall...throw it in my direction...perhaps empty it contents to confuse me...yet somehow she could not budge it from its location.

That`s when my focus shifted. I no longer could focus on my imminent death. From my right side came a yell and the painfull jab of yet another `u` shaped poll attack. One more teacher had circled around the school and caught me by surprise. This was not in the plan that I had walked through earlier! Things where quickly running away from me and my fake screams quickly became real yells and panic.

Then as fast as the drill had began it ended. All the actors had played their part and the students had been ushered to safety. The `stranger` had been contained and the teachers were triumphant...all but one. The one teacher who had not been in on the `joke`. She was exghaushted, panting, trying to catch her breath, and regain her bearings.

I quickly removed my disguise and revealed who I was under the mask. The panic left her face and she began to put together the events of the past few minuets. Her realization as to who the `stranger` was sent her into remorse and she quickly began to apologize for her actions. These new revelations were of great relief to her.

On the other hand, I was relieved that she hadn`t been able to pull the fire extinguisher off the wall. If she would have been successfull...a very fake knife would have ended my very real life...

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It's the little things

It's funny how the simplest of things can bring happiness into your day. Living abroad does something to a person. While I would argue it's something good, it's also something that isn't for everyone. Japan can be a crazy place to live sometimes. Especially for someone who is set in their ways (not saying me). Living in a country where very few people speak your language can sometimes be daunting. Walking into a grocery store to find shelves stocked full of products you have never seen before can be a huge shock. But, people do it. Everyday millions of people around the globe wake up to a world where they are foriegners.

For me this move to Japan was based on many factors. Calling, desire, necessity for a job, and wanting to see the world beyond my front door. While I was able to prepare myself for the move I could have never planned the experiences thus far, the people I have met, or the atmosphere in which I live. As I said some people can't do this. The need to have every detail planned out, every question answered, and every problem worked through with its solution. Sometimes, we have no answers for our questions, or they take a long time to come to you.

The past couple years of my life have been a strange mixture of joy, pleasure, sadness, and regret. But, that mixture has brought me to where I am today. All of those things have brought clarity to my days, and while I still don't have answers to all my questions I know that God's plan is so much bigger that my desire to find clarity in life's complications.

To top it all off while shopping at an international grocery store last night I found Kraft macaroni and cheese. Ya know, it's the little things that make the difference. Making lunch, doing laundry, listening to music, and enjoying some food from home, that's what my Japan looks, like today.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

First Post From Japan

So, here it first real blog post from Japan. As I have started to settle in here my thoughts have been swirling around in my head and many of them have made it to paper. What you are about to read were my thoughts from my first day in my school and working in the teachers office. Enjoy!

 It's funny that I work in a place where not that many people speak English. They are all having conversations but I'm just sitting here writing at my desk. I think I'm going to start reading my lesson plans...that way I'll at least look busy.

 I have a name plaque at my desk with my name on it. It's in Japanese...but I can recognize the katakana.

 Well, that went well...I introduced myself to the school. It was in English and Japanese. So, that's something! My desk is wicked short. I lowered the seat but that made me about a foot shorter than everyone else around me. I know...big problem!

 I just made a ton of flowers with some of the teachers and hung them around the school. Not sure what else is going to happen but so far it has been fun!

 Everyone is doing something...I keep writing and thinking that I should be doing more. (Name omitted) said I would only be teaching 1 or maybe 2 classes a day.

 That's a long day if I'm here 6 hours or so...maybe not. I'll have to see what my schedule looks like. I was just part of an induction ceremony...I think. I was in the teachers room making coffee when someone came and got me. The schedule i have is all in Japanese...But now, back to coffee!

 Just had lunch. Talked to the people at my desk about where I lived and and what I like to eat...popularity is not something I'm used to.

 I was reading my lesson plans when one of the teachers started showing me pictures of the students. Followed by point out which students were the bet...yep! haha Then I talked about the Sakura...they will bloom soon, I am very excited!

 When I was a kid I always thought the teachers room was some magical place that the teachers hung out, talked about students, and's nothing like that!

 On hour left in my first day! I made flowers, introduced myself in Japanese, went to a ceremony, talked to my desk mates, and hung out in the teachers room. It's going to take some work with everyones name...their name tags are all in Katakana...mine is the only in Romanji.

 Just a half an hour to go...oh gosh...I just laugh and nod my head a lot. Funny thing is I can tell when people are talking about me. I'm pretty sure they think I'm strange...pretty fair assessment!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why I Didn't Watch the Grammys

First off let me state that I love music. I've always loved it. From the day I got my, "My First Sony" radio/cassette player till I started using Spotify to listen to the newest stuff out there. I also have played in many bands...nothing crazy but I've performed live. I kinda feel like I know what I'm talking about when I talk about music.

Secondly, I enjoy pretty much every type of music (remember dubstep isn't music). I respect any one who is going to sit down, take a life experience and turn it into music. It takes a lot of talent to do that. I love being able to sit down, and hear a story or see an artist paint a picture with words. For me it's very essential to making a great album.

The problem with the grammys is that they don't really celebrate why I love music. Rather the opposite. While I enjoy live performances I don't see the need for an over the top carnival stage show of someone "singing" their song. If the song is good enough to win an award why do I need to be distracted by someone floating around in the air?

Also I was watching the Detroit Red wings win 20 games in a row at home against the Flyers. I was then watching the Walking Dead.

Sometimes...there are things more important than music. Click here to find out what!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Morning Post

There are so many subjects that I would love to talk about. Politics, religion, and of course Japan. The problem is those first two things tend to get people really heated. So, this is why I focus on the third so often. That is why I will be talking about all three! So, settle in. Grab a cup of coffee or's story time!

Shortly after I got back from Japan in 2008 I interviewed at a church to be their new youth pastor. I had been in contact with them a couple times while I was in Japan and they wanted to wait till I got back in the states before they made their decision. This way they could talk to me in person, ask me questions, etc.

I was still coming off my Japan high when I settled into the interview. Which, might I add wasn't just between me and the pastor. I sat down at a table 14 lie. This is not a good idea. Mostly because it feels like you are on trial. It also gives people a forum to ask questions that shouldn't ask questions. (This is where the real story begins!)

As I sat down at the table I started to look around at the 14 or so people seated around me. All various ages, backgrounds, and personality types. There was a woman there who just scowled at me the whole time. Some youth who looked like they had been forced to be there. The head pastor was there, and then there was...lets call him Jim. Jim was an older man, I would say in his 80's. He had his own oxygen and was proudly wearing his World War 2 hat and bomber jacket.

I knew right away that Jim wasn't going to like anything I had to say about Japan. And, I was right. Towards the end of the interview (which didn't really seem like it went all that well in the first place) the senior pastor asked if there were anymore questions. This was Jim's chance. I shifted in his chair, sat himself a little more upright than before, looked at me, and asked, "Why do you want to live in Japan so much?" Everyone in the room could tell that this was going to turn ugly.

You see, Jim didn't ask me the question because he cared for the people of Japan like I do. Nor did he care that I had just come back from a completely life changing trip. But, to my surprise, Jim continued, "Because every time I watch them play baseball, all I can see is them throwing grenades and killing my friends!" At that point the interview was over! I was quickly escorted out of the room like I was the president heading for a bomb shelter.

Seriously though, this threw me. But, this wasn't the first time this has happened to me. After I returned from Japan the first time my grandmother told me that she was "glad my grandfather was dead, because he wouldn't have liked me going over there". For me people like Jim have the right to be angry. I'm pretty sure he saw a lot more than I will ever see. He was probably 18 years old when he was sent off to war. I thankfully have never had to do that and I honestly don't know if I could. He (and many others) have experienced a lot that I haven't. But, that doesn't make him better than me.

I'm saying all this because of one thing. There are a lot of politicians who want to use their religion as a means of pushing their hatred upon others. They see their faith as a means to change our country into this Christian utopia. They want to pass laws that make hate legal. They want to oppress people because they think that being gay is worse than whatever sin is in their own life. They want to invade other countries and kill thousands of people to make my life "safer". They want to pass laws that would allow the president to control everything we say and do (because I'm obviously not smart enough to think for myself). There are those who want to just throw endless amounts of money into inner cities instead of educating people.

I'm honestly not sure why I am posting this...I guess I'm just tired of Christians using politics and their religiousness as a way of promoting hate. Yes, there are things that are sins. But, lets show some consistency. Because if you are going to hold up a sign that says "God hates fags!" then hold up a sign that also says "God hates murdering innocent people". Or "God hates when we give billions of dollars to corporations who waste it on vacations" or "God hates when we think it's OK to leave 2 of our wives to marry the woman we cheated with".

Am I asking too much? Probably, but I will ask one other thing. That you donate money to me...I promise that 100% of it will go into my bank account to help fund my trip to Japan. And, I won't use it to promote hate or anything like that!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Show the Money to Me!

I put up a bunch of stuff on Craigslist, the social media site for people named Craig. Just don't tell anyone my name isn't Craig.

Here are the links to the stuff I'm selling. Please note that the money is going to fund my trip to Japan as well as a growing happy meal toy addiction.

PS3 Listing

Ipod Listing

Sega Genesis Listing

And if you don't want any of my cool stuff that I here and just "Show the money to me!"

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Post 100...Is About Japan...Big Surprise!

I was going through some files on my computer last night and came across a lot of cool things. Mostly, old poems I wrote in high school, none oh which I will be sharing! But, instead I came across an essay that I wrote about wanting to live and work in Japan. I know, that most of you have heard it, read it, or tried to get me to stop talking about Japan...but it's not going to happen anytime soon!

With post 100 I thought I would share with you that essay. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that you continue to keep reading! Moving to Japan isn't going to be an end of my blog but a new beginning...cheesy as that sounds. So, instead of boring you with is the essay.

From the age of ten I have always had a fascination with Japanese culture. I’m not sure how to explain it other than saying that this passion didn’t come from my surroundings. I grew up in Texas, about as far away from Japan as you can be! I taught myself how to use chopsticks and wouldn’t eat a meal without them. As I got older I realized that my passion for Japan coupled with my compassion for helping and teaching others was a perfect fit. When I was eighteen I got the opportunity to go on a trip to Japan. I had just graduated high school and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. While I was in Japan I quickly began to realize that this was the place I needed to be. I immediately fell in love with the people I encountered and the spirit of Japan took me over.

It wouldn’t be for another eight years that I would once again get the chance to visit Japan. Once again my trip was a sign that Japan was where I needed to be. The summer I spent in 2008 was memorable for many reasons, mainly the children I got to work with while I was there. Being able to teach and interact with kids made everyday worth waking up early for. There wasn’t a night that I wasn’t out exploring the city, finding new places to eat, or stopping by a vending machine to experience something new.

For me, Japan has been a place for me to experience life in a completely new and exciting way. It has allowed me to see the person I am inside; adventurous and excited to try new things. Unfortunately for my friends here in the states it makes them hesitant to even bring up the subject of Japan for fear of me sharing another story. Going to Japan for me always reminds me of when I was child on Christmas morning. There is always an excitement of the unknown and the thrill of adventure.
Living and working in Japan would be a dream come true and a life experience that I would be proud of. Japan makes me feel like I’m a part of something bigger than myself. I have always felt welcome in Japan as if I were returning home from a long trip. Living in Lancaster Pennsylvania has made it hard for me to find good Japanese food, so I always make sure that I try and experience as many different types of foods while I’m in Japan, not limited to my eating of natto.

As I said before Japan has always been a great host to me and teaching in Japan would be something that I would never forget. As for teaching in Japan, I love being able to work with students and help them grasp the difficulties associated with learning a new language. No matter the age of the student we are never too old to learn new things. Being in Japan would afford me the opportunity to not only teach, but to be taught.

Click here if you want to help save baby animals from... poison...factory jobs...or something!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Are you excited??!!

What gets your heart pumping? Like seriously, what makes that surge of adrenaline shoot through your body. Your pupils dilate, your heart races, your mind is focused! Well, here is the big Japan!

I know right big surprise! Seriously, every time I get on the web, I check my email, hit up facebook...and then...then I gravitate towards the website for Tokai Village. I load up the 150+ page pdf and start reading. Everything is covered in this pdf. Trash disposal, child care, swimming pools, post offices, banks, you name it it's covered! That is what gets me excited. Reading all this creates a picture in my head. I wonder what the town looks like, where my apartment will be, who my neighbors are, and everything in between.

I have a very creative imagination and it takes a lot of energy for me not to go crazy with the thoughts of the unknown. There are a lot of things I can't control. A lot of unanswered questions but, that's what I love! From the second I step off the plane in Tokyo up until I move into my apartment is going to be an adventure.

I do however find the awesomeness in the small things. For example, cell phone shopping. I know this is a major nerd moment but please stay with me for just a second. This amazing! It's a Gundam Wing phone...I can't even talk about it anymore. You just need to see a picture of it!

Boom! There it is! 12 megapixel camera, gps, HD video, Global roaming, and the big's in English.

So, there you have it. Please don't get me wrong. This phone is not the reason why I'm excited...but added to everything I'm going to experience it gets me excited.

Going here...would do two things. First, I would be grateful. Second, I would make me not stress about finances. So, do it!

Friday Fun Fact now with 100% More Pictures!

So, the other day I posted some fact about Tokai Village, Ibaraki. Today I wanted to share a couple cool pictures. These are the flags of Ibaraki Prefecture as well as the flag of Tokai Village.

Ibaraki Prefecture Flag

Tokai Village Flag

Each Prefecture and town has their own flag. Ibaraki's flag is of a white rose on a blue background. The blue symbolizes the Pacific Ocean as well as Mount Tsukuba. I'm not exactly sure what the flag for Tokai stands for but I did see a picture of people with their hands over their heads imitating the look of the flag. It still doesn't really help because I don't know what it means.

Either way, it's Friday! Enjoy the weekend and enjoy this last fun fact for the week!

Don't forget! I need some support in getting to Japan. Pass this along to your friends, neighbors, enemies, rich uncles, creepy uncles, crazy aunts, British nannies...whoever!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fun Facts!

So, what's up? Yeah? Me? I'm moving to Japan!
(Theme song!)

I don't know what that was...but, I do know that it's time for Fun Facts!!!!!

Ok, you all know I'm moving to Japan in March. Tokai Village in Ibaraki prefecture to be exact. But, do you know what a prefecture is? Do you know what goes on in Ibaraki prefecture? No! Since you don't know I'm going to tell you! First off, a prefecture is similar to a state here in the US. There are 47 prefectures in Japan. There are a ton of facts about prefectures on Wikipedia (a trusted site for my college papers since 2006).

The capital of Ibaraki prefecture is Mito.

As of March 2011, the prefecture produced 25% of Japan's bell peppers and Chinese
cabbage. Yum!

Ibaraki is known for natto, or fermented soybeans. Natto, is made by cooking soybeans and then letting them ferment in the ground...and is not something that I enjoy.

That is all you get for this episode of Fun Facts! I'm watching 30 rock and eating an apple...typing is hard.

Don't forget to donate to my trip! Please!! I will need to buy toilet paper when I get to Japan!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What is Tokai Village?

Tokai Village

Population 37,503...about to be 37,504!

Tokai village, Ibaraki Prefecture is where I am moving to! Last night I received my call about placement. I will be teaching at one of the six elementary schools in Tokai.

With an average temperature of 14 degrees (57f) this Pacific coast town is know for it's black Japanese pines as well as having the first nuclear power plant build in Japan.

Tokai, is located 120km (74miles) north of Tokyo. During the month of April, Tokai will celebrate the annual sakura (cherry blossom) festival at Akogigaura Park.

From the town of Tokai: "Japanese have a strong affection for cherry blossoms. In spring, Japanese get together with their colleagues or neighbors under the cherry trees and enjoy viewing the cherry blossoms with food and sake (liquor)."

Stay tuned for more post about my future home...and don't forget...Donate!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tokai Village, Ibaraki Prefecture Japan

Tokai Village...

Home of the Black Japanese Pine

The Lilium Maculatum

The White Eye

And now...Me!

I will be living and teaching here starting in April. There are still many details left to be ironed out but this is one giant step closer to March 18th! I will post more but this is just a teaser and a shameless plug!

Go Fund me!