December 4 2000

Subject: burning octopus

Date: Monday, December 04, 2000

Arakaki Sensei plopped the fried octopus (takoyaki, or as I call it, takoyucky) into his mouth and immediately started making those noises you make when you stick something way too hot into your mouth. Lot’s of “ahhh’s” and “oh’s” and other things I couldn’t quite understand, as he was fanning his mouth at the same time. He took a long pull of his beer, then sighed. He leaned back in his chair and smiled. Then reached for another piece.

We were sitting in “B1”. B1 is the first basement floor in out building, and it’s all the nickname of the bar there. When people say they are going to “B1”, its usually for a tall frosty one. I was told I was being taken there for a beer after the conference was over, and I agreed.

The conference was over. Phew. Three days of big fun. The conference is like this raging beast, you cannot really understand it, nor can you really control it. You just try to control it, and when the bell rings, you get the hell out of the way. I managed to avoid being gored, which is always a good thing (isn’t the USA trying to avoid being Gored as well?) and I think it went well. I got to dress up (more then usual) and deal with 70 native English teachers and maybe 40 to 50 Japanese teachers.

I was responsible for organizing the seminars (five of them over three days, consisting of 17 total class combinations), getting the speakers, organizing the reception and making sure everything went smoothly. I got to practice my gift of gab, and boy did it come in handy. When you have to get up in front of the whole group and ramble on and on, being able to speak is a good thing. Thinking on one’s feet is also good. Everyone on this mailing knows me pretty well, and I got to be Chris, in all my glory. Hell, I even managed to whip out my Leatherman Crunch tool and fix the broken handle on the computer projection case. (The handle that had just come off while I was speed walking it back from the office. I had forgotten the machine when I was at the office earlier, so I had to RUN back to get it. Bad call Chris. Anyway, I wasn’t using the handle that broke, for which I was very happy, as I could see someone taking the repair costs out of my salary. The funny thing, she didn’t even need it! All that effort, and the blisters!)

Many people commented on the casualness of the conference. I cannot say if that was in anyway my influence, but I’d like to hope so. I had the Hawaii contingent (all 6 of us), make leis (the Hilo girl themed her leis, and they were a tad bit adult, so I had to be careful who I gave them to), so I presented them to the speakers and visiting dignitaries and the seminar speakers over the next three days. One of the girls made me a yellow-orange-red yarn lei, which I wore proudly over my dark suit/dark purple shirt and hula tie! ( I love that tie!) I had to explain to the assembled masses that it wasn’t an ear muffler, nor was it a neck warmer. Rather it was a lei.

Some people were critical. Saying that they didn’t learn very much. Others took me to task for trying to teach a class in which I have, admittedly, little experience (but when you admit that at the beginning, and you are just trying to spur discussion, isn’t experience a moot point?). Of the 17 classes, on the comment forms, 10 of the classes were considered to be “best of” as well as “worst of” by people. No one is ever happy. And once again, I found that there are a lot of dumb people in the world. And inflexible.

So I sat at B1 and drank my beer (it was good!), and I ate some of the fried octopus, which is slightly better then regular octopus. We also had tofu, tempura, and french fries. Arakaki Sensei and I talked about the conference and planned for next year. It never ends…

Chris

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