My Best Teaching Is One-on-One

一対一が僕のベスト

Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.

当然、先生方と共同レッスンも、特別レッスンの指導もします。

But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.

しかし、僕の一番意味あると思っている仕事は、講義が終わってから、
一対一と
個人的にその課題の勉強を応援することです。

It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.

まあ、コンピュータプログラムにすると、得意先の方に出来上がった製品を体験させるようなことと思います。
役に立たない製品はまだ製品になっていないと同様です。

Monday, December 31, 2018

Redirect: Book Review: Fighting the Promise by F. Allan Roth

Pardon my dust.
The link you are trying to get to is here: https://reiisi.blogspot.com/2018/12/book-review-fighting-promise-by-f-allan-roth.html.

Book Review: Fighting the Promise by F. Allan Roth

I've had to cut way back in my participation in the LDS Beta Readers group because of work, but F. Allan Roth was looking for someone to review his recent release, Fighting the Promise, and I had this feeling in my stomach that I should read it.

If you read the synopsis currently on Amazon, it sounds like end-times young adult action for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it really isn't.

It's a thought exercise or experiment:
What if one of the enemies of the USA found a way to bring the country to its knees, and the leader of your religious community, in a religious address before the fact, told members of your religious community not to fight it -- not because war is wrong, but because it was the righteous judgments of God being poured out on a sinful nation?
But if he writes that as the synopsis, who is going to want to read almost 300 pages of preaching about how evil the USA has become in XYZ religion's point of view? (That's not what it is, but isn't that what you'd think?)

On the other hand, the way the synopsis stands, it kind-of sounds like Mormon end-times paramilitary fantasy. And I definitely do not think that is what it is.

Conundrum.

Yes, he is preaching -- a little bit -- through a story that doesn't quite fit in any genre, although it brushes with end-times fantasy and paramilitary thriller. But, no, he isn't really preaching that way. No Nostradamus. No picking Isaiah's prophecies apart. No predictions of dates and such. No dystopian views of depraved society.

I think he wants the reader to think about a couple of things, and he buries his premise and hypothesis in a novel that brushes with and ignores all those genre and more.

There is preaching by allegory, but I think it is skillfully done. He doesn't waste the reader's time trying to tell us every little thing we should not be doing.

I think, if I were Roth, I'd have put in a preface, something to the intent that it's just a story, not trying to predict anything, especially not dates or specifics about which ally-enemy of the USA everyone should be watching. But such disclaimers tend to be read as irony in some circles, so maybe it's just as well he didn't.

The writing is still a little rough, but you should know I am not a fan of polished saccharine sweetness. (Should we call that Aspartame™ sweetness these days?)

The first three chapters made me roll my eyes. Thoughts on my mind as I read them:
That sounds strangely like something the president of the Church said recently. (Russel M. Nelson, at a temple dedication in Chile. But the message was not about the kind of war you fight with guns. It was about the better kind of war, where you struggle with your own tendencies to do the lesser things.)
No! Stop! Someone researching devices to detect the portable nuclear bombs that are the holy grail of terrorists everywhere would not let the border patrol agents demand that trunk to be opened!
No! The president of the US would not just roll over like that. And I don't want to sit through another top-secret action thriller tracking all the bombs down and kicking the enemy out.
Wait! When are we going to track all the bombs down and start kicking the enemy out? (Heh.)
After that, the delivery is something like what you'd expect from an old warhorse with war stories to tell. Parts of it even sound like war stories, how deep the snow was, how they got through the underbrush, how they took the helicopter down, ..., but now I'm treading on spoilers.

(If you can stand a little testimonial kind of thing, I find the portrayal of the main character and his wife encouraging and sort-of-applicable to my personal situation.)

I were the editor-in-charge, maybe I'd give it a preface, disclaiming intent to predict future events, etc., especially disclaiming intent to pick which of the ally-enemies of the US are most to be concerned about.

The story is a good story, there are memorable moments and gripping sequences. It's not a fun read, although it has fun moments and ends at an upbeat point.

And the thought experiment is a very useful one. Worth reading.

How many stars? Somewhere between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2, I'd say. YMMV.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Riding a Meme: Fairy Tale Accounting

Heh. Some finger pointing at fantasy budgets showed up on Basshook:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/20/budget-breakdown-of-a-25-year-old-who-makes-100000-dollars-a-year.html

(Thank you, Carlos.)

Yeah, it struck a harsh chord. Lots of posts ridiculing CNBC for publishing that as a budget of a young person who is "Excellent with Money". (Ahem.)

But I think I've learned my lesson about just sharing without thinking. So I went searching for and read the actual article. And now I realize just how ridiculous most financial advice is. And how truly ridiculous CNBC is for posting this kind of garbage. (The information is not ridiculous. The analysis and conclusion are pure fluff -- not even decent fantasy.)

The chord it struck was harsh enough for me to not just share, but to write this webrant.

This guy is doing what they tell you to do. Charge what the market will bear. Spend less than you earn. Save as much as is comfortable. Give some to charity.

He estimates his income this year at USD 100,000. Thats 8 1/3 K average a month, calculated naively. (The naive calculation is a necessary first step when you don't have a company and management to shield you from the vicissitudes.)

Last year was $80,000. The year before, he doesn't say.

Item:Amt (USD)Notes
Rent:825Four roommates
Groceries:400Trader Joes, etc.
Health insurance:270 No explanation
Utilities:195Shared
Transportation:130Public and Lyft
House cleaner:30Shared
Internet:20Shared
Cell phone:40Family plan
Dining out:250Girl friend (No movies?)
Donations:615Good for him.

Let's look at some of the things not mentioned in the pie chart:

Item:Amt (USD)Notes
Coworking space:350Sometimes he needs an office ...
Office (irreg.):1000~2000... only when he's really busy.
Google Sheet:???A "financial app he's developing.
MCAT studies:????What comes around goes around.
Video games:???"Sometimes."
Roth:(400?)(My estimate.) Good thinking.
Savings:(400?)(My estimate.) Good thinking.
Other dating:???I doubt they just dine out. Maybe Netflix? That might be a shared expense. Video games?
That's their business, but he hasn't really budgeted it. (And is not budgeting it a bad thing?)
Actually, I approve of not telling how much. That's between the two of them, really. Heh. Never mind.
Miscellaneous business:????Some of these were mentioned in the article, but if you add up the math there were likely quite a few.

He mentioned having "about $43,000" in savings, part in Roth, about $20,000 of it "liquid".

Uhm, liquid is not really savings. It's business capital and emergency funds. Necessary to have, but not really savings.

Okay, for doing what he's doing, he's on a fairly decent course. All the finger-pointing and general gossip on FB tends to miss a lot of important stuff.

(Well, CNBC could clean up their analysis significantly. This topic is not perfectly justifiable, but it really shouldn't be so criticized, either. Just, CNBC bloggers, clean up the analysis in your webrants!

Other news linked from that page is the sort of thing that can really suck people's productive time and thinking energy down the drain. It shouldn't be suppressed, but it shouldn't be so actively promoted.)

Back to this guy's budget.

I would have trouble doing things his way. Why? I am not fond of teaching the test. (I need to put up a better rant on that subject, but not today.)

One of the reasons I haven't started "teaching English" independently here in Japan is that the parts of that I think are valuable have nothing to do with tests, and the parents who want their children to "study English", and the individuals who want to "study English", aren't really interested in learning English. They are interested in test scores. "Better schools." "Better jobs." More pay.

I am, however, interested in teaching people how to communicate in English.

My wife would laugh at this. She says I don't know how to communicate. She sort-of has a point. I haven't bothered learning how to sell my opinions so that people will be interested in paying me money for them. Like this webrant, too long, and too much time thinking about things no one seems to want to think about.

Part of communication is, in fact, raising the signal that something needs to be communicated, showing that the message has value. Part of it is communicating things others need to talk about. These are things I need to work on.

But teaching the tests, themselves, No!

Tests are necessarily performed only in a single dimension, or, at best, in unit vectors of two or three dimensions.

Linear.

Linear.

Linear!

(Yes, whoever uses "random" as an epithet, I'm answering you: Linear!)

Focusing on tests gets in the way of real communication. The tests themselves become the reason the average graduate of the Japanese school system studies English for six years and then feels like he or she can't actually "speak English".

They cannot tell us if the test taker knows the subject or does not. They can't even tell us whether the student studied for the test, because the test is supposed to be devised so that it can't be specifically studied for.

(Supposed to be. If the guy whose attempts at budgeting inspired this rant is not aware that he has essentially embarked on a game of strategy where his opponents are the testing companies, he needs to get his head around that. Studying for, and taking, the advanced tests is not just for a degree for him, it's a necessary business expense for him. And it may not be good enough -- unless he is already planning to retire from this game within a few years.)
And they do not teach how to communicate.

The only good thing about standardized tests is when the student lets the test motivate him or her to actually study the whole messy package. And doesn't get tangled up in the grade, as long as it's good enough to allow moving forward in school or the profession.

Please, can't we, as a society, graduate from one-dimensional views of knowledge, of the market, of politics, of economics, of life itself?

(Well, I should try to make my point here, but I really didn't have time to sit down and write this. Lots of other, more important projects waiting for me to work on. On the other hand, thinking about it might help me get the inspiration I need to solve my own problems, so ... . Well, I hope reading it wasn't wasting your time.)

Friday, December 14, 2018

Basshook Just Loves to Mess with You

On the train to work the other morning, I was scrolling through FB and noticed a message from FB themselves.

We decided to help you by changing all your groups to highlight-only.

We've Updated Default Group Notifications
We're working to connect you with the notifications you find relevant. You were receiving all notifications from these groups by default, but we've updated this to only show highlights. You can change this anytime.

Updated Groups
And then it listed all of my groups.

All of my groups. Every last one. 

So I hunted for the way to switch them back. I had to scroll to the bottom and click
"See all groups"
And then it gave me the full list, and I could click one at a time and restore to all posts, then save. Managed to restore about five before my station came up.

(Someone told me that there is a way to do this en-masse if you're on FB in a regular web browser. But I couldn't find it in either of the Android FB apps. And the only web browser I own, FB brings it to its knees.)

Then I read a post by a friend who was complaining that he wasn't getting posts. All he was getting was ads.

Cometh the dawn.

The ads weren't getting through, and they thought they had to get our attention.

So ... somebody give me a cool ten million dollars so I can build the start of a real social networking system that won't be just an excuse to shove ads down everyone's throats to get money from advertisers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

What Happened When Door Met Handlebar〜ドアとハンドルが当たった出来事

About this time last year, I was in the hospital, nearing the end of a month-long stay. This is how I got there.
およそ去年のこの頃、一ヶ月間の入院の最後、退院しようとしていた。この投稿がその入院になった理由の話です。

(I would have written this down earlier, but I've been busy, and it's been a little painful to write. [Updated Jan. 5 -- It really is hard for me to write this stuff down.][Japanese translation began Jan. 5.])
(忙しくて、文書に移すのがやや苦労のもので、もっと早く書き留めようと思ったんだけどできていない。[ちゃんと書いておくのがホンマに辛いのでまた1月5日追加。][和訳は同じ5日に開始。])

A year ago, towards the end of October, on a night when I had planned on going to the ping-pong night at church, I was instead at home working on a distributor box for the receiver in a wireless mike system we use when someone translates at church meetings. Several of the solder joints were cold and needed re-flowing.
一昨年の10月の終わりぐらい、教会の卓球ナイトに行こうと思っていた夜に、その替りに、家で教会の集会を通訳するときに使っている無線マイクの受信機の配信箱の手入れ作業にとりかかっていた。ハンダ接続不全の数カ所を溶かして流し直す必要があったのです。

The job search that week had not gone well, and neither had my writing. I was late and frustrated.
その一週間の就活も、文筆の(つもりの)作業も巧く行かず、卓球ナイトの遅れにも挫折感を味わっていた。

Finishing the repair work, I threw the box in my bag, threw on a hoodie and another jacket, put my shoes on in the genkan, and headed out the door in a minor heat.
修理を完成したらカバンに配信箱をほり込んで、フーディともう一枚のジャケットを纏って玄関で靴を履いて、小型の熱の勢いで玄関を出た。

We got rid of our car after moving back to the city because we really don't need one. It's often easier to get where you need on a bicycle.
都会に戻った時、車がもう要らないと思って廃車処分にしておいた。大概は自転車だけで充分行きたいところへ動き回れる。

I dumped my bag in the basket and headed out of the bike parking area. I turned right out of the car parking lot into the chill of the early autumn night, but it isn't really all that dark around here. The roads are fairly well lit most of the way to church.
自転車のカゴにカバンを漬け込んで駐輪所を離れて駐車場からは右へ、冷たくなりかけている秋の夕方に向かい出た。ただ、この近辺はそれほど暗くはない。教会に向かう道は殆ど街灯がよく設置され、夜でもまあまあ明るいのです。

I generally used to have a habit of accelerating hard on the bike. I just don't like wasting time. I think you can understand why I haven't been able to do that much accelerating hard lately, and maybe I don't want to any more.
以前は、自転車に乗って加速するとき、力入れて急加速をする癖があった。時間の無駄が嫌ですから。ご理解していただけると思うが、現在はそんなに加速したりは難しいし、しようと思うこともないかもしれない。

I turned left at the intersection at the northwest corner of the elementary school campus. (There was a kindergarten there last year that the city has regrettably since torn down.) I think I remember a small van arriving at the intersection at about the same time. Anyway, I stayed on the sidewalk on the left side of that street, to let any traffic pass unimpeded, building speed. Apartments, and then houses, abut hard against the sidewalk to the north (my left as I went), and there are school grounds with trees hanging over the sidewalk on the south, across the street.
小学校内グラウンド北西の交差点にて左へ。(去年、その角はまだ幼稚園があって、あいにく閉鎖になって潰されたのです。)ライトバン車がほとんど同時に交差点に入った記憶があるかのようにあるけど。とにかく、後ろから来る自動車などに絡まないように自転車を左側の歩道に走らせて加速した。道の北側のぼくの走る方向の左にはアパートから戸別住宅に替わっていって、それぞれ歩道に寄りかかるように建つ。道の向い側は学内グラウンドの木々の枝が南側の歩道を覆い被る。

As I approached the intersection at the northeast corner of the school grounds, near the pool, I eased back to check traffic under the street lamps. The stop sign is on the intersecting street there, but I didn't want to take chances.
グラウンドの北東角、プール付近の交差点に近づいていくと、街灯が照らした道の交通を確認するために速度をやや落とした。止まれの標識が渡る道にあっても、危険を冒すつもりじゃなかった。

When I was sure the intersection was clear, I accelerated again, and I was probably doing 30 Kilometers per hour (about 20 Mph) as I left the sidewalk into the intersection, probably over 40 Kph (25 Mph) when I entered the shoulder safety strip that replaced the sidewalk on the other side of the intersection.
交差点に車が入って来ないのがわかるとまた加速して、歩道から交差点に入るともう、30キロ時速だっただろう。交差点を渡って歩道の代わりになっている路肩安全地帯に進んで、時速が40キロになっていたに違いない。

I think I became aware of the car parked (quasi-illegally) in the safety strip in front of me as I crossed the intersection, but I'm human and react slow, so I didn't quit accelerating until after I had entered the safety strip.
正面のその安全地帯を防いでいた自動車に気が付いたのは多分交差点を渡っている間だったと思う。然しぼくは人間です。反応が遅いです。加速をやめるのは安全地帯に入ってからでした。

I started moving right, toward the center of the road, but I was fighting momentum, moving too fast to swerve hard. But there was plenty of time to avoid the car itself.
道の中心の右に寄ろうと、運動量の弾みがあって、その勢いとの遣り合い。急に向きを変えて避けるのが速度の勢いで無駄。でも、自動車そのものは問題なく、十分避けれるほどの余裕だった。

This is a fairly wide residential road for a Japanese city, but it is barely wide enough for two ordinary sized cars to pass, carefully. (Ordinary size cars in Japan are still compact in the US, if you are wondering.) On the north side (my left that night) of the street there is a rice paddy, and the south side has, in sequence heading east, a parking lot, an apartment complex, a couple of houses, and another apartment complex.
その道がまあまあ広い。日本の都会にしてはまあまあ。乗用車二台が通りかかるには、気を付けて行くなら通れる。(気になるなら、日本の乗用車って、米には軽型になる。)左(北側)には田圃、南側は駐車場の後アパートがあって、そのあとは家とまたのアパートがある。

Not a lot of room to dodge a door if it opens at the wrong time, but the road is well lit, and what are the odds?
車のドアが危うく開くなら、なんとか避けるほどだけど、ぎりぎりに近い。それに確率は少ないと思うやろう。

I was moving to the center of the road anyway. Just didn't have time to move all the way to the right, and there was always the worry about traffic behind me.
取りあえず道の中をと移動しよう。完全に右まで行くには間に合わないし、後ろの予期しぬ車も気になっていた。

Also, I was a little too close to brake hard. Even if the door had already been opening, braking hard there would not have allowed me to swerve, and I would have smashed myself and the bike into the door had I done so. But it wasn't opening. Not yet.
急ブレーキは近すぎる。ドアは既に開く途中だったとしても、急ブレーキすると避けるに必要な余裕がなく自分と自転車がドアに突っ込むことになっただろう。それに、開こうとするようには見えなかった。まだまだ見えなかった。

The police asked me later whether I was worried about possible vehicular traffic from behind. Of course I was. But trying, at between 40 and 30 Kph, to move out of the way of a door that could reach at least the middle of the street if it opens is not exactly easy.
警察さんは後で後ろから来る自動車などを気にしていたかを聞いてくれたんや。無論のこと。ただ、開くとしたら、40から30キロの間の時速、道の真ん中を超えていく開くドアを避けるのも簡単な制御ではない。

You might say bicycles shouldn't go that fast. A lot of people I know will raise their eyebrows in disagreement at such a suggestion.
自転車はそんな速度走るはずはないという人は確かに居る。私の知り合いの内、反対に意見に眉毛を上げる人が多いと思う。

Maybe I could've-should've braked anyway, but you don't get far down the street with your brakes engaged all the time. Anyway, there was no time, and I did try to move away from that car, for no reason other than a hunch.
申しかして全部にも関わらず、ブレーキを掛けるべきだったやろうと言えるかもしれない。それでも、ブレーキをずっと掛けたまま道の先には進めへん。と言って、余裕がなかったし、感に促されて避けようともしていた。

And the door opened just at the wrong time, just in time for the edge to catch my ring finger as I swerved past.
避けて通ろうと、一番あかん隙、ちょど指輪の指に引っかかるところドアが開いた。

Well, I did get past the door, but my handlebar was jerked left. And the door swung out a bit, so I had to work hard to avoid taking the edge of it between my legs.
まあ、通ったのは通ったけどハンドルがグイに左へ引っ張られた。それにドアがブランとまた開けて、的間に股に受けてしまわないように力を使わなあかん。

I put my feet down to try to balance the bike, but I was still doing at least 15 Kph, I think still over 25 (over 10 Mph, probably over 15).
自転車のバランスをとろうと足を地面に付けたが、まだまだ15キロ以上、多分25キロの時速だったはず。

My feet stuck on the pavement, then came unstuck, and then I was flying over the handlebars.
足がくっ付いた。そして外れて、ボクノ体が飛ばされてハンドルを超えた。

I thought I was dead.
マジで死ぬと思った。

But then I felt like I should just relax, and put myself in God's hands.
とこれで、楽にして神様の手に自分の身を任せるべきだという感があった。

Momentum or angels stretched me out flat by the time I hit the pavement, and my hood flew up to cover my face. Probably an angel had a hand in that, too.
運動量の弾みだったか。天使だったか。体が地面に着くまでは平らになっていた。フーディが浮かんでぼくの顔を守る位置になった。それも天使の技だったかも。

I didn't end up sliding very far. But I took most of the impact on one elbow.
それほど滑らなかったけど、衝撃の力がほとんど片方の肘に当たったらしい。
[JMR: Translation to here by 17 Jan.ここまでの翻訳は1月17日までです。]

There's still some blank space there, but bits of my memory of this have come back a little at a time.

I think I was screaming while I was flying, but I still don't remember. When I came back to myself, I was face-down on the asphalt, with my hood between the asphalt and my face, screaming. Maybe I screamed for fifteen seconds or so, but it seemed like a foolishly long time. At that point, it was more frustration than pain.

I know how to handle pain, and I had automatically began what I do to handle it. Pain is how the body tells you there is damage, and if you understand that it isn't nearly as frightening.

Screaming in the early moments of pain can be useful, but after that it mostly just makes the pain worse.

I recovered my breath and quit screaming and started assessing the damage. The arm that had taken the impact was under me, and did not move without severe pain. But the other arm was free and not in too much pain to move.

There were sharp pains in my back, but I could feel my legs and move them. But there was significant pain in both legs and both feet, especially the right thigh and my hips.

I was worried about my neck and spine, but I was also worried about being in the middle of the road, unable to see around me. So I braced the arm that was hurt worst and rolled myself on my back.

And I was happy to be alive.

The driver who doored me came into my visual range, and I relatively calmly asked him to call an ambulance. I might have been grimacing or I might have been grinning ironically.

[A note here: Laughter is good medicine, but it can unnerve the people around you, and cause them to be suspicious. I don't think I actually laughed, but I was not really frowning most of the time, and I didn't scream or holler any more after the first scream.

Frowning makes you hurt worse. I hate that.

But smiling also makes the insurance agent think you're cheating. End note.]

The daughter of one of the families who live near there is friends with my daughter, and she happened to be home. She ran and got my family, and the ambulance came, and the police came, and they were careful when they moved me, and I ended up in the hospital for a month.

Damage:

Hairline fractures in the toes in one foot, from when I tried to balance and stop myself.

Severe strain in the inner thigh of the other leg, from the same stress of trying to balance the bike and stop myself, and from the impact with the ground. I didn't really recover from that strain until after I left the hospital.

It was a week after the surgery before they let me start walking a little, and I had to use the leg in order to work the pain out. Stretching it out in the air while I was lying in bed helped with the pain, and helped loosen things up so I could start walking again. I think it was six months before I could walk without pain and start trying to run again.

Sprained fingers in the hand that took the edge of the door, strains in both hands and arms from going over the handlebar. Strains all over, really. Other than the thigh strain, most of those, and the hairline fractures in the toes, healed well enough during the first two weeks in the hospital.

But I did have to postpone a job interview until after I got out of the hospital. (I was ultimately turned down for that job. Something more than 40 other applicants, most of them half my age, higher level of education, not recovering from an accident. I have more experience, but at my age experience gets discounted a lot.

And I really was still not at my best for the interview, two weeks after getting out of the hospital. I really haven't been up to a proper interview since the accident. Been turned down for every full-time job I've interviewed for after the accident.)

When you know how to handle pain, they say you have a high tolerance for pain. This is a good thing, but you don't know what to say when people ask if you're in pain. Scale from one to ten? I had to remember that sensations I no longer consider more than informational are what other people beg for aspirine or novacaine for.

If you call it pain, yeah, it hurts. I don't like pain, so I call it information.

My wedding band ended up squashed into a heart shape, and they had to cut it off at the hospital. But my finger was not broken. I guess it was supported during the impact by the handlebar, and protected by the ring. That probably should be noted as a miracle, too.

Two cleanly sheared ribs in my back and a greenstick fracture in another, all near my spine. Those breaks probably protected my spine when my feet stuck and sent me flying, and again when I hit the street. They wouldn't allow me to walk until those had taken hold and were strong enough not to break loose again from the stress of standing up.

The elbow that took the impact was shattered. The doc described it as pounded to gravel, but she may have been slightly exaggerating. Slightly. Call it large gravel.

I should get the x-rays from the hospital and post them. Heh.

Scrapes here and there, but my clothes took most of the abrasion.

And that was pretty much the sum of the damage. Sort of.

Except for the novels I was working on at the time. All of that has gone into suspended animation by now. Trying to get a "real" job before my body is ready leaves me no time to work on them, and no energy when I do have some time.

X-rays and MRI both showed no damage to spine or neck, which is a great blessing.

Why didn't I take more damage to my neck and spine? Good question. I exercise pretty regularly, so I was in fairly good shape to start with -- but not like when I was a college student learning jiu-jutsu. If I had tried to tuck and roll, I could easily have gotten tangled in the bike and broken my neck. Even if I had cleared the bike, I would likely have come down wrong on my back and neck. The way I hit the ground was either pure luck or the hand of God, whichever you prefer to believe in.

And from there things got complicated.

There are many medicines that just don't work for me, or work too well and wrong.

I don't handle anesthesia well. Don't ask. I just don't.

It should be enough to say that I'd rather have a root canal worked on without pain-killers. Literally. Did that three years ago. Would have had to take a week off the job I had then if I'd let them use anesthesia, because I would not have been coherent enough to respond appropriately in class, much less plan lessons. It's that bad. That's part of the reason I've learned to handle pain without pain-killers.

And I don't handle antibiotics well either. They do things to me that go way beyond funny. Make it hard for me to work. Solve one problem, make three more.

The docs did not want me awake when they stabilized my elbow. Too much risk if I had spasms or something. No anesthetic, no operation. Likewise antibiotics. Insurance problems there if they didn't use them.

So I begged them to give me the bare minimum, and to let me choose whether I needed them afterwards, unless I developed high fever or something. They were kind enough to let it go at that.


Here's the brace in the elbow, just after the operation. It's a faded print on paper, and I didn't get good focus when I took the picture of the print, so you can't see the breaks in the bone, only the shadows of the screws. I should get the electronic copies so you can see all the gravel between the screws.

Most of the screws, by the way, were not in there to hold the bracket in place so much as to be there for the bone to grow back around, and then hold things in place. At first, the bone wasn't solid enough for the screws to take hold of much. At least, that's what the docs said. Shattered.

I had my arm in a plastic half-cast (custom splint) all the time I was in the hospital, and I wasn't permitted to use the arm until the X-rays showed the bone successfully growing back together solidly enough.

Below is the brace they took out after six months, with the screws, cleaned up and packaged for me as a souvenir:


I had them take it out as soon as possible because I was beginning to have reactions to the metal -- tight, sore muscles with cramps in my arm, neck, and back, and all the exercise I was doing wasn't loosening the shoulder up any further. (The metals don't help the immune systems, either, BTW.)

You wanted to see the hardware didn't you?
More than a year later, and the after-effects still make it hard to concentrate at work.

Fortunately, the other guy's insurance paid 100% of the hospital, so I had a nice month to recover from the accident, the operation, and the medicine. And they covered getting the brace back out.

I went in for the removal on a Friday morning, out Monday afternoon, just long enough to be sure there wouldn't be any complications. And I taught lessons the evening after I got out. No big deal, other than the effects from the antibiotics. They let me do that one without painkillers. Not sure trying to avoid time off work was a good idea, though.

Maybe I can explain a little here about what the antibiotics do to me. I only had a part-time job teaching English, mostly to children, at a private juku, or tutor's school.

It was a new job, I had taken it because there was literally no place else that was looking like they would take me. It's not hard work, mostly just planning out simple activities where English is used, leading the students through them, and keeping an eye on them as you do so. For small classes, the planning is really something you can do on the spot, if you have experience and lots of tools handy.

When I was working in the public schools, I was handling classes of 30 or more students. At the juku, the classes were much smaller, from individual to six or seven students.

Both anti-biotics and anaesthesia make it hard for me to concentrate. They hamper my ability to think ahead, especially about things I can't see, and they make it hard for me to communicate verbally, especially when there are disagreements.

I couldn't handle making written plans, and I couldn't even really figure out why. And I couldn't handle discussing things with the other teachers.

They also suppress my immune systems, so I was spending a lot of time out of class in down time, recovering from sinus problems and other stuff.

One part-time job is not enough to pay the bills, so I picked up another translating. The translating job has worked out much better so far, mostly because my boss there has been very understanding. But that took pretty much all of the time I had outside of class, so there was no time at all to do planning. So I lost that job at the end of November, and am back to not having enough money to pay the bills, much less eat.

I have to admit, I had hoped the insurance would also pay enough to support me and my family for the time I couldn't really be working while I was recovering. That wasn't the case, and I haven't yet really recovered enough to hold a full-time job yet.

But, because I was in job-search mode at the time of the accident, they didn't want to give me any work compensation at all. No recognition of my efforts to write. The fact that I had to postpone a job interview because I was in the hospital, plus the fact that I had been working (and paying insurance) at the beginning of the year, did persuade them a little. They gave me enough to cover rent and part of the bills while I was in the hospital, and for another month after I got out, and then one more when I become incoherent on the phone trying to explain that it just wasn't enough.

(Incoherent. I tried to tell the agent he might as well be telling me to just crawl up somewhere and die. It might have come out like I was telling him he should die. Yeah, Japanese grammar is hard to handle, but this is also part of what the drugs do to me. No energy to know whether I have the grammar close enough to what I mean when I'm speaking Japanese.)

Ultimately, they gave me 160,000 yen a month for a total of three months. That's roughly USD 1,600 a month at exchange rates, and just barely enough to cover rent, utilities and maybe a half-month's groceries. And they deducted most of that preemptively from what they allocated to the final settlement -- you know, the one where they pay you for all the grief you suffered for it, after the fact. Except they don't, because there is no way to change things back, and because they have a bottom line they have to protect.

(That bottom line is the irony of insurance, by the way. Think about it. The guy that is supposed to be making sure you recover -- his real job is making sure you don't bankrupt the insurance company. That's the way insurance works.)

So I didn't really get enough protein, calcium, and proto-vitamin Bs in my diet while my body was rebuilding the joint.

So now I'm 15 degrees short of full extension in that elbow, with no expectation of improving. Sure, I can use the arm, but I can't get the full range.

That means I can't use full range when I'm exercising, so I can't afford to cut my exercises short. That makes it really hard to put together a forty-hour week, especially with more than an hour commute each way.

So why didn't I get at least a part-time temporary job as soon as I got out of the hospital? They said I could at least get work as a guardsman, swinging the red baton at construction sites, etc. The insurance company wants to know.

I did get back to the job search immediately -- before I was officially out of the hospital in fact. The hospital is conveniently close to the employment center, and when I was allowed to walk the two kilometer round trip, I went.

Some people thought standing out on the street eight hours a day with a traffic wand shouldn't be too hard, but I don't think they understand that, physically, it's just as demanding to stand in the middle of the street as in a store at a cash register. And the HR departments really don't want people who are still recovering from an accident. The guardsman needs to stay awake.

Some people thought I should be back in the classroom. I don't think they realize that there is competition for those jobs, and that they do actually take work, energy, and thinking.

It's also hard to describe how the medicine affects me. Sure, I was weak from the accident and the operation. And rebuilding takes energy.

But anesthesia and antibiotics just take it out of me, make it hard for me to think or move. Kill my immunities. And it doesn't just eventually go away. It was better during summer, but, winter, no, I'm still down as much as up. My sister brought me some stuff when they came to visit that seems to be helping me, but it's kind of rough on me, too. That's the way it is with these reactions.

It doesn't just go away after a day or a week or a month, and the person who needs the help is the one who gets blamed for not working hard enough, not trying hard enough.

The juku job required me to be close-quarters with children four or more hours a day. I like kids, I love to teach. But without physical defences I tend to catch whatever they have. I've had miserable sinuses all fall.

I have to have sleep. I cannot get by on less than five hours. Not if I've got to be productive enough to do a job. And the teaching job asked for "service overtime" -- reports and planning done off the clock, and only the most obvious (and least time-consuming) prep work would be paid for.

(The boss said, No! That's not service overtime! I'm supposed to have a habit of browsing through Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, etc., two hours a day anyway, looking for stuff for kids to do, just because. Even though I have another job. And I should have the persistent store in my tablet necessary to hold all those apps and their caches and databases. Just Because. I note that it's a trend these days for employers to demand personal time be dedicated to the job. Just Because. Even though it sucks the creativity out of both the personal time and the job. Even though much of the value of the work is in what you bring in from completely outside the work context, rather than in what you pick up by staying effectively on-the-job unpaid too long.)

I still have to put in more than an hour of exercise for the elbow and the muscles in my arm and back, six days a week. I take a break from the exercises more than one day a week, and my back, shoulders, and sinuses get all tied up in knots. That makes it really hard to work a full-time schedule.

A year really hasn't been enough time to recover completely. What were they thinking when they claimed I should be recovered in three months -- because I wasn't working and making at least 6,000,000 yen a year at the time of the accident?

What, really, is insurance for?

Well, that's the short version of what happened. If you made it through this much bellyaching, well, thanks for your time. I hope it doesn't depress you.

(My former boss at the juku job told me I was being too negative about life. I think I'm being quite optimistic, all things considered. I'm not dead yet.)

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Fortressing against Bad Education

I was informed that a companion to this post caused distress to someone whose opinion I valued. Initially, I removed this post to re-evaluate it, but I decided to put the post back up here.

I will likely revisit this subject, because the converse arguments also have value.

Things That Weren't Shiny

I was informed that the post I originally had here caused someone whose opinion I valued distress. I am not sure what distressed her about it, so I initially removed it to rethink how to express the contents in a better way.

I have come to no useful conclusion, so I have put the post back up, here, with the beginnings of a translation to Japanese.

The converse arguments have value, as well, so I will be revisiting the subject.