Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Eeek! Blind Corners!

A well-written article from the military----

PTA finds Chatan Town has problems not caused by Americans
Date Posted: 2008-02-26

A weekend research gathering by 20 members of the Chatan Town PTA turned up information about their youngsters that shocked them.

Allegations against an American Marine accused in the rape of a 14-year-old schoolgirl earlier this month in Chatan Town set the PTA Union into action to survey what was happening in their community. PTA Union Chairman Yasuo Nakachi led the group, comprised of advisory council committee members from the town’s elementary and junior high school, on a Saturday and Sunday visit to dozens of locations frequented by youngsters.

Visits to game centers, the business zone and popular restaurants prompted questions like “Are there a lot of Americans visiting here?” “Do Americans come to your shop?” and “Are there any junior high school kids around here?” The answers were ‘yes’ to kids frequently the areas, and fewer about Americans. More worrisome to the survey teams was discovery that “there were many kids smoking in this area, and there were places with blind corners around parks and schools.”
Other on the team reported “schools and even public toilets had many cigarette butts, and walls were scrawled with various phrases.” The members also heard reports that many parents actually bring their young children to the dark areas late at night, leading them to the conclusion Americans are not the only ones with problems, but Okinawan families as well.

“Parents and children should talk more, and parents should be protecting their children,” Nakachi says. “Parents should not let children go out late at night.” A team member added “we need to patrol daily, and take much more time to check dangerous places, make safety maps for children, and then give them to families. Everyone needs to have the map to protect the children.”

I'm annoyed by the PTA and I haven't even been in Okinawa for seven months. Heaven forbid that their own children might be causing problems, like *gasp* smoking! Obviously, the rape incident is unacceptable and horrible for public relations, but the fact that parents work until 10 pm and allow their children to do absolutely anything they want, might also be a part of the problem. I'm glad I'm not one of those Americans who frequents the restaurants any more. Or that I have to hear inane conversations about this stuff from other teachers.

Sometimes I do miss it and I can really get a vivid image of my favorite places in my head... Like strolling around Mihama and walking to the Co-op on the windy road that led me through small little alleys and past gravestones. But then I remember the bureaucracy and the amount of discussion that had to go into absolutely everything and I'm happy to be watching Project Runway back in the US of A.

Thanks for the article, Bridgit! I *do* miss you! And our weekly Night at the 'Bucks.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

An interesting idea...

Recently, I seem to keep coming across organizations that lend out money to entrepreneurs in poverty-stricken nations. Two examples are Birima and Kiva.

I think this is incredibly interesting, but am not convinced that it's necessarily in the best interests of those that it's supposed to be benefitting. Basically, you loan money to these folks with ideas, usually handicraft makers and restauranteurs, and it's gradually paid back. At Kiva, you can give gift certificates as presents and the recipient chooses what business receives the money.

It's an interesting concept. I'm feeling very charitable lately. Maybe it's because of how generous everyone has been for the Avon Walk. I wish I had loads of money to spend on amazing causes...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sarcophagi & Cartouches, oh my!

Last week, Ken and I stayed out for a night on the town in Chicago and saw "Rent" at the Cadillac Palace Theater. I don't have any pictures because of the psycho lady who screamed when anyone even pretended to take a photo inside. We had excellent seats and the performance was amazing! I had seen the movie (lame!), but the real thing was fantastic. Based on all the Rentophiles around us who knew when to stand up and give special whoops and hollers, it fulfilled their expectations as well. Ken and I were singing the songs on the way back to the train, and the next morning, and the morning after that... It was a very nice Valentine's Day. I even got a rose. Mind you, it was picked up off the ground. But it's still alive!

Then on Friday, I headed home to get my hair cut and for the rehearsal dinner for Zack and Krystal's wedding. It was a grand time, both the rehearsal and the actual wedding day. Everything was beautiful... The bride was radiant and the groom handsome, just as it should be. The groomsmen behaved themselves --- surprisingly. And Laura and I had a chance to relax at their house without pantyhose and high heels for a few hours. We stayed out late and saw old friends. Here's to a great marriage for Zack and Krystal!

I can't take credit for the photos as Ken took all of the shots for the day.

The biggest news as of late? Well, it was mentioned in passing last week, but yesterday, it was basically confirmed. I am going to be sent to Egypt and Jordan sometime at the end of spring/early summer! Whoo! I had a meeting with the bosses who just returned from the trip and they basically said that two of us were going to be heading over to check it out for ourselves. What does this mean? My company uses 5 star hotels... We will be staying at the Four Seasons where we will either have pyramid view or Nile view rooms. Wow. Anyways, you never know what will happen, but it would be a great bonus to be sent on this "unusual journey" with my company. In fact, it's really one of the only places that I would want to have a guide with me at the sites and restaurants. Most other places, I'd prefer to flashpack it on my own. Here's hoping that this all goes through smoothly! One other lady who started last year is headed to Italy tomorrow to check out hotels. Nice...

Friday, February 15, 2008

I'm all astonishment!

As of right now, including checks that have not been applied to my total yet, I have reached the $900 mark. Half way there! And I've only been trying for a couple of weeks. I am still amazed at everyone's generosity and can't wait to experience the walk with so many inspiring individuals. Jane & Patty from work have signed up to accompany me and we're gearing up for the training process. Anyone find the "perfect" walking shoe? I can't seem to find tennis shoes that I love lately.

I am sick of winter. The sun is out today, which helps, but I know more snow and ice are bound to show up again soon. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Saturday, February 09, 2008


I'm 21% of the way there!

Strolling to my goal. Slow and steady wins the race. :)

I promise I'll have some more updates/pictures soon. We have a wedding next weekend so there will actually be something to report. And Ken bought me tickets to see "Rent" on Valentine's Day, so that will be another story.

Work is going to be awful for the next two months. Our India expert has left for six weeks (to India for a family thing) and I'm going to have to try to fill in with a region I'm not familiar with and to keep track of all of her new and old itineraries. I did this before but not for such a long time. Everyone was already on edge on Friday and she hadn't even left yet. The job is going well though. I have started trying to talk to clients more since I've become much more comfortable with our products and can explain what the Sonesta St. George is, what's included in the cruise on the Danube, and what time flights typically get in when you fly to Peru. I spend a lot of time on expedia growling because we aren't supposed to do ticketing.. It's a serious pain. And the tour consultants should just tell people to do it on their own, but because they're too nice I end up shopping for the best flights.. all for $50 profit. Not worth it! Anyways, that's my only complaint for now! Maybe not the ONLY complaint... :)

Today I went to the gym with Regan and the two of us ended up demonstrating for a Turbo round for the whole class. Hilarious. Like the old days on the stage. Poor Moo Moooooooo!!!!!! Anyways, we were semi-teachers for two minutes which was fun and tiring. And we did a little hip hop the other night in one of our classes and had to stop because we were becoming so hysterical at how awkward and uncool we truly looked.

Ken and I are expecting Josh and Laura in a minute and we have Nutella tortellini planned for dessert. I hope it works!!! Yum!

PS - Since posting, I'm up to $470! Thank you everyone!
PPS - Up to $520! I better start stretching out my muscles...

As of today, 12 February, I'm at $620. *Doing jig*

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Fundraising Update

So far I'm at $240! Thanks to everyone who has donated... Please pass on the information to those who might be interested in helping such a fantastic cause!

The end of May will be here before I know it. Thankfully, Jane, a co-worker, is going to tough it out with me. Training begins next month. :)