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Many big events have happened in the interval since our last
correspondence. I hope here to illuminate you on at least a few of
these as well as some of the more trivial details as well. So sit back
and enjoy, for you are about to enter the Trev Report:
Trev's Love Life
Signe and I are doing swimmingly. We celebrated our fifth wedding
anniversary on May 25th. It has been a great ride so far, and I am
looking forward to spending many more happy years with my beautiful
bride, who is still as radiant as the day I first met her.
Work has been keeping me busy as of late. The first week of July, I
will be hosting an International Day event at one of the schools I
work at, Kimita Junior High School (JHS) [http://www.kimita-
/>j.hiroshima-c.ed.jp/index.html/]. The all-day event will bring
together people from Canada, Egypt, Australia, the US, and New
Zealand. Together they will teach the students about their respective
countries and interact with them by playing fun educational games.
As the assistant language teacher (ALT) at Kimita JHS, I am in charge
of planning the event and preparing the students as well as the guests
for the day. The students will be presenting skits and songs in
English to the international guests; much work has to be done so that
it comes off without a hitch.
Signe organized this event last year, and I have some big shoes to
fill to be able to pull it off half as well as she did. In any case, I
will do my best.
Other than that, my work life has stayed relatively constant. I spend
time at elementary schools and junior high schools entertaining
children and making them interested in pursuing English more
rigorously. It is a fun job, but I do not envision myself advancing in
this career path much farther than I already have. Which brings us to
the next section and some big news.
Trev's Career Change
As of May 21, 2007, both Signe and I have given notice of our
resignation from our respective jobs here in Japan. We are going to
leave the country for good on the weekend of July 28, 2007. This is a
huge event that has been months in the making. And herein lies the
The town of Iinan [http://www.iinan.jp/], in which Signe and I live,
consists of two distinct sections: Akagi, where we live, and Tonbara.
Each of these sections houses an ALT. The former being Signe, and the
latter being a man from Philadelphia called Mike. It is with this Mike
that our decision was made.
Mike is a fine and upstanding fellow in his early thirties, much like
Signe and I, who came to Japan to get a much-needed break from his
life of computer consultant work in Philadelphia. For a number of
years, Mike had been a self-employed computer consultant specializing
in Macintosh computers (Macs), used by many artists and marketing
firms. His decision to come to Japan, as I understand it, was due to
the fact that he was burned out in his work and wanted to try
something completely different.
Signe befriended Mike when I was in Thailand this summer with Mateo
[http://www.flickr.com/photos/jumex/sets/72157594312547103/], and upon
my return we hit it off together, having much in common with each
other, like our shared interest in technology and philosophy to name a
Throughout the year it became clear to Mike, as well, as us, that
this life in Japan was not a good fit for him in the long term, and
thus he started to make plans to return home after his year-long
contract ended in July. In the process of doing this, he tackled the
problem of finding a job when he goes home. It turns out that the
fellow in Philadelphia that Mike gave all his consulting contracts to
a year hence in preparation to coming to Japan, Jeff is his name, is
positively swamped with work and desperate for Mike to return and
alleviate his workload.
So, Mike and Jeff started to discuss consulting work and decided that
they would go into business together and start a consulting firm in
the Philadelphia area, instead of being simply two independent
consults working together. This will give them the opportunity to grow
the business and hopefully add consults and others down the road.
Mike was pleased with this plan, but for one thing. The reason he
left Philadelphia in the first place is that he was burned out doing
his job alone. With no one to help him with his work, no one to
commiserate with, no one to get him through the rough spots, he could
not take it anymore. Sometime during the long winter months here in
the Japanese countryside, which are naturally the hardest for a new
expatriate, while Signe and Mike were discussing the ins and outs of
winter depression and the trappings of staying in Japan with no real
future, Mike got it in his head that I would be an ideal companion for
his new company back in the US. Thus he started courting me on the
idea of leaving Japan and becoming employee number one at his yet-to-
From the start I had my fair share of concerns and trepidations. Not
least of which being my blissful ignorance of the Macintosh line of
computer in the past ten years. The last Mac I used was a Quadra 650
in 1997 working as an intern at Palm Computing. Apple and its ilk had
come a long way since then. Throughout my constant concern of
inadequacy, Mike reassured me that for someone with my mindset and
background in computing it would only be a matter of time until I
understood the details of the platform as well as any other consultant
in the field.
His constant encouragement, and the lending of one of Jeff's Macs (a
PowerBook G4) to play and learn with eventually eased my trepidations
and eliminated my fears of incompetence, which most certainly stem
from the shame of being laid off from my first computer programming
job after college in San Jose all those many years ago.
My next concern was a financial one. We would be going from two
salaries to one, effectively halving our income, at least until Signe
can get up on her feet in Philadelphia. This was a hard issue to deal
with especially since we would be moving from a financially stable,
albeit stagnant, position to a much more volatile, but also more
expansive, field. I will not bore the reader with the details of our
admittedly private discussions, needless to say that Signe and I were
able to come to terms with this situation and accept the risk it lays
Beyond those two larger issues lay mostly emotional barriers to
moving: the fear of change, the idea that a return to the US would
trap us there, the fright of gaining back the weight we have worked so
hard to take off in the past year (Philadelphia being, as we hear it,
the stoutest city in all of America), among countless others.
As must be quite apparent to you now, dear reader, we have come to
terms with all this and have accepted Mike and Jeff's offer to move to
Philadelphia anreet I failed
to continue to glance at the oncoming traffic, so I was not aware just
how close the 18-wheeler was to me, until I heard a horn honk.
The horn made me instinctively put on my brakes, which in retrospect
was not the best of ideas. The driver honked at the precise moment I
was in front of him, and when he hit it was a perfect t-bone collision
with a vibrating crunch as my car spun off to the side of the road to
smash into a guardrail and send a weakly reinforced stop sign flying
I would have come away from the accident completely unscathed if it
was not for a convenient addition I put on the car. Often here in
Japan one will see tricked out cars, and a very common add-on to these
cars is an enlarged front mirror. This has the added usefulness to
allow you to see a great deal of your back window, instead of just
enough. I had installed a particularly large and rectangular one of
these in my car about a month beforehand. It was on this that I flew
forward and ripped a large gash on my head oI have had the chance to listen to a great
many interesting books. I would like to share some of them with you
_The Worst Hard Time_ by Timothy Egan is a nonfiction book
documenting the lives of a few select families in the Texas panhandle
and dust belt states through the Great American Dust Bowl of the
1930's. Mr. Egan goes to these old farm towns and interviews once
hopeful people that, instead of heading west like the Okis in a
Steinbeck novel, decided to stay out the dust bowl and hold on to what
little they had, even if it was nothing at all. These people's first
hand accounts of the black dusters, dust pneumonia, and the great
wasting away of the ancient Indian prairie land as prospectors came
and tilled land never meant for tilling, is heart-wrenching. I had no
idea that the great devastation was a result of man's raping of the
land. This was a great listen, and an important documentary of the
people the survived one of America's greatest travesties.
_Water for Elephants_ by Sara Gruen is a no those not in the know, the plots of the two stories are as
follows: _The Iliad_: The Greeks attack Troy; Achilles is a whiny
baby; then he is not; Hector bits the dust. _The Odyssey_: Odysseus
leaves Troy a winner; he pisses off Poseidon; takes twenty years to
get home; adventure ensues; he gets home and Penelope, his faithful
wife, is being courted by a bunch of jerks; he kills them all; it's
_Empire_ by Orson Scott Card is a speculative fiction novel set in
near-future USA and describes a new civil war between the radical left
and the radical right. It is a very topical novel, and I imagine that
it will lose its freshness in a few years time, but if read within the
next few years I think a lot of people would enjoy it. I liked
thinking about the concept it laid out: mainly that political
polarization in the US is getting more and more radical with no answer
in sight for reconciliation. The urban/liberal vs. rural/conservative
divide [http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/] in the US is
real if it were
proven true. The field of truly intelligent machines would take off,
and there would be a lot of money to be made in it. I will be watching
the development of this field with bated breath.
_The Areas of My Expertise_ by John Hodgman is a comedy book about,
well, the areas of John Hodgman's expertise. I hear that the print
book is full of charts and tables, so since that does not translate
well into spoken word, John Hodgman (who read the book himself)
improvised for most of the book and recorded it with a guitarist as a
comical sidekick throughout audio book. I first heard John Hodgman on
National Public Radio's (NPR) _This American Life_, of which I always
look forward to listening to on the radio. On the show, he is quite
funny, but this audio book was a let down. There were a few good
laughs, but for the most part his dry humor did not strike home with
me. I really cannot recommend the book, but he is worth checking out
on _This American Life_, if you are an NPR listener.
_Lolita_ by Vladimd as a sort of clone of Batman (rich
guy learns martial arts to fight for good) with a Robin Hood twist.
That is not so impressive, but starting in the 1980's comic book
artists took the character and made him a hero of the left wing. In
his current incarnation, he is the mayor of Star City, a town with a
substantial amount of people under the poverty line. The Green Arrow
spends much of his time defending those in need and pushing his
liberal political agenda. It is a fun book to read, especially for a
left-leaning guy like me.
I also read the Dynamite Comics Battlestar Galactica (BSG) books. It
was the BSG comics that first got me interested in getting back into
reading comics. I positively love BSG and have listened to the two
audio books that are out, watched all the TV series, and I am still
reading the comics. Sad, I know, but I am a sucker for good sci-fi.
BSG is definitely good sci-fi.
There are only three games I play a lot these days. There are two for
Mac OS X, and oneHeroes_ is a close second. _Heroes_ is a
show about superheroes and conspiracy. It is really fun to watch and
is directed a lot like a comic book is laid out. The first season just
finished and was, in my opinion, very well done. The characters are
interesting and the plot kept us guessing from week to week. I am
looking forward to where they are going to go with it in their second
season. It should be good.
I had about four more sections planned out for this edition, but they
are all pretty unimportant, like what movies we have watched lately,
etc. So I thought I would spare you the details and send this report
I am looking forward to getting your reactions to our big move. We
are looking forward to going back to America and starting a new life
there. Drop me a line if you have a spare moment.