TGW Home | Podcast | Photos | Travel Tales | Videos | About the Tame | Contact | Japanese |

 


The Daily Mumble has moved!

This is an archive copy only and will no longer be updated.

The new edition can be found at www.tamegoeswild.com/words. Please update your bookmarks.

The feed address has not changed - subscribe here if you're not subscribed already!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Generosity, and packing for Japan

Been a funny old day today. Everything's been out of context. Started with being woken by my mobile. I get an average of one phone call a week, so it startles me even if when I'm already awake. My friend had a puncture, meeting might be delayed. I can sleep in a bit. Tired after last night's coaching call, finished that at 1.30am. It's almost the end of the course, more change there. Good change. Change is good.

But hang on, it didn't start with that phone call. No, it started with what happened the night before. It was about 11pm, and I was unpacking my bag. Earlier in the day a friend of mine (another student) who I'm probably not going to see for a long long time after this week handed me an envelope: "Look after it, and open it when you get home".

When I did open it, I gasped. Inside was a beautiful handmade card with a lovely message, and inside that, a number of bank notes. I was stunned, and tears came to my eyes. This was an act of supreme generosity, utterly unexpected. I was completely thrown by it, and spent some time feeling lost in the kitchen talking to myself.

I contacted them, communicating my feelings. They reassured me. Boy am I grateful. Thank you so much.

This act of generosity made me think a lot about giving and receiving, and reinforced for me the importance of giving in my life.




This afternoon I was on Three Seeds business, Three Seeds being our online publishing company. Met up with our marketing adviser, who, in a nice way, pointed out all of the flaws in our plans. I was very grateful for that - better to hear it from him than someone whose business we are looking for (or the judges at next week's competition final). We need to do some serious thinking about where we want this business to go. It would be a shame to bring it so far (we're now in testing) and not see it to the launch. It's a shame we lost two months to the first company we approached, but no doubt the reason for that will come to light in due course.

Tonight I've been starting to pack for Japan. I move out of here next Tuesday, but will be heading down to London on Friday for a rather special meeting with a high-profile businessman from Japan (I hope I can still speak Japanese!), so basically I need to prepare for the move now. I'm taking a lot of stuff to the charity shops: stationary, kitchen ware, small bits of 'furniture', books, women's clothing.

Whilst I've moved every year since about 1999, this is the most important move yet. I won't be coming back to live in the UK for a long time, so decisions need to be made about stuff that means a lot to me, but has little practical use, or can be bought in Japan for less than the cost of postage to Japan.

I'm down to about ten books. Ten books that have changed my life in various ways. All the rest have gone to Oxfam. I have quite a few things that have been given to me as gifts by friends over the past 15 years, but serve no purpose other than to look pretty and remind me of them. It's tough parting with these things, but I know that my relationships with these people are not ultimately contained within these objects. It's time for someone else to provide a temporary home for them.

I'm so glad that the vast majority of my photos are digitised. If my collection of 20,000+ were in the form of prints and negatives I really don't think I could justify shipping them over. As it is, they just occupy an eighth of my Macbook's (320GB) hard drive. Handy that. Hurrah for technology.

*Twinkle*s getting closer. 15 days. Can't quite come to terms with that. Kind of scary. It means we're getting married soon.

This morning I did a bit more wedding organisation. Booking rent-a-cars, and a hotel for *Twinkle* and I in Windsor, where we'll stay the night before she returns to Japan. It's all going to happen so soon. In a month she'll be back in Japan, and I'll be back here at Sheffield, learning how to teach.

Ho hum.

Well, best be off. I need to sleep - tomorrow is my last day working for CILASS (probably!). A group of people from Hong Kong have come to the UK to tour learning environments - I'm one of the Sheffield Students providing the student p.o.v. on the IC.

Nighty night.

Labels: , , , , ,

Monday, June 30, 2008

Hurray it's Monday :-)

WARNING! THIS IS WHAT YOU MIGHT LOOK LIKE IF YOU HOLD ONTO LOTS OF BALLOONS
Been a bloomin fantabulous week this. The conference, the completion of the website (will give you the link soon), the people, the coaching course, the friendship... just grand. So much to smile about.

I'm really excited that it's Monday again. That means I have a WHOLE 'NOTHER 7 DAYS to play the game of life! What can I do this week I wonder?

Oh, I know, I can see bjork (still no reply to my message to her the other day asking if she'd like me to take her to the Peaks [that's the Peak District by the way, a national park].

I can tie up my CILASS ends (sob).

I can continue to look forward to seeing my baby - only 17 days until she arrives, marking the end of 6.5 months apart. I might not have much time to mumble after that... :-)

I'm going to register our new publishing company name and logo as a trade mark - £200 for 10 years, bargain! (Watch this space for that website launch too). I think I'll become a shareholder this week as well, provided the solicitors get their act together. Quite how they can charge £700 to register a company I don't know... Still, all of these expenses are covered by the generous start-up funds we've received.

The last of the wedding 'issues' are sorted. I had this feeling all along that we would get our band of first choice. They'd had to say 'no' when I phoned them a couple of months back. I've been reluctant to book anyone else, and was curious as to why this was. Finally, yesterday I had the feeling that it was time to give our band of choice another call. I did. they told me that their plans had changed - they said 'yes'.

I delight in this intuition we all have, it's bloomin' amazing! Ok, so we may not be able to detect when earthquakes are going to strike as dogs can, but we can tell when our ceilidh band of choice will finally say yes (bet dogs can't do that).

So caw blimey gov everything is fantastic. Thank you dear world for treating me so good.

RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

TTFN

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A Day of Wedding Planning, and King Cats

Met this Cat King this morning. Never met a Cat King before. He was pretty extraordinary, had these piercing pink ears that pierced.



Having a cat seizure



Very productive day. Got a fair bit of translation homework done first thing. Then it was on to wedding planning: found a beautiful converted barn for myself and *Twinkle*, and then when they arrive *Twinkle's* parents and sister to stay. It'll be nice for the two of us to have a few days in a guest house alone in the week leading up to the wedding. Good location too - one field away from my parent's place (you can see the roof of the barn from mum and dad's bedroom window). And, the price has just been reduced by £75, making it highly affordable. I love staying in guest houses / hotels. It's such a treat, especially when one is with one's loving partner.

Then it was time for a Japanese grammar lesson - mum and dad are learning the basics in preparation for meeting *Twinkle's* family. They'll be using the excellent BBC Talk Japanese book and CDs, the same course I used 8 years ago. They know how to say "Good Morning" now, and understand basic sentence structure. What clever pensioners they are.

Next, it was off to the church where we'll be having our blessing, to check out how many people it can hold. Lovely place.





Following that I paid a visit to the home of the church warden. She was great, very helpful. Interested in international weddings too - my good friend and ex-steiner pupil Lorien and his Russian wife were married there not long ago, "Most beautiful wedding I've ever seen! She was so beautiful, I could hardly believe it!"

I've since booked the bar, confirmed the village hall, and found a good friend to help co-ordinate food. Oh, also visited a fantastic B&B (The Lawns) down the road where other guests can stay. Lovely lady. And, they have a glass-topped well in their house, floodlit inside so you can see the water flowing in 50 foot below - what a bonus! The final stop was a neighbour's house to check out their field which we hope to use for friends / family who'd like to camp.

This evening I attended an informal meditation session at the church. There were quite a few people there that I knew - including my parents. It was lovely. The church was dark except for a couple of candles and a light in the alter bit (that's the technical term). The vicar (who I'll be seeing tomorrow about the wedding) read a little story, and then played some relaxing music. It was not in the slightest bit 'religious' as such, rather, it reminded me of my CD by Andrew Weil (he of the World's Best Beard!

I'm not too well practised when it comes to meditation. Find it difficult to clear my mind. I tried tonight, but after 10 minutes I gave up, the image of *Twinkle* in her wedding dress was just too persistent in its knocking at the door to my mind. So, instead I spent the next twenty minutes reflecting on all that I had to be thankful for. A little risky in a church full of people that is absolutely silent (you could clearly hear when someone swallowed, and should someone have dropped a pin, I'm sure we would all have jumped out of our skins!). Thus, it's dangerous for me to think thoughts of thankfulness, as they tend to make me smile and laugh rather a lot.

Tomorrow will also be a good day. In addition to wedding planning, I'll be going to visit a dear friend who was my boss when I was aged 13 to 19. In a way she was a mother figure to me, and with her husband taught me a lot. He sadly passed away recently, and I was sorry to have not been able to see him to thank him for all that he had given me. I hope tomorrow to be able to express just how much she, and her late husband, mean to me.

oyasumi

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Family of East Asian Studies and the Opinion of Others

About a week ago, my case study "Making Students Matter: The Family of East Asian Studies" was published on a new section of the University web site.



Case Studies Project overview

The Case Studies project aims to create a library of examples of good practice in teaching, highlighting success stories in order that academic staff across all departments can benefit and learn from one another. In such a large organisation several departments might be faced with the same challenge (such as, 'how can we effectively teach statistics?"), with each department struggling on its own to find suitable solution. If one of those departments did then come up with some new whizzbanging wopaloobop technique, the chances are they would not be aware that other departments might also benefit from this, or, they may be hesitant to approach others and say "We've found the answer! You should do what we're doing!".

This is where the Case Studies project comes in. It seeks out examples of excellence, and actively promotes them to the wider community in order that all can benefit from the experience.

Whilst individual case studies may initially seem to be subject-specific, they often have the potential to contain valuable lessons for a wide variety of departments. As is the case, with the SEAS case!

In my study I basically discuss something that I think has played a major part in making my experience at the School of East Asian Studies such a good one. I quote:
Joseph Tame, a final-year student reading for a BA in Japanese Studies at the School of East Asian Studies, found his learning experience greatly enhanced by the department’s familial atmosphere. From first contact with the dedicated, friendly office staff, through to his final semester six years later, he was made to feel that students genuinely mattered thanks to a culture of care and respect promoted on a daily basis through the attitudes and actions of all staff and lecturers.

My article then goes on to describe in detail the little things that staff do to help promote this community atmosphere, which plays a big part in making my learning experience the fantastic thing it is.

Brown-noser

On reading that article, one of my classmates emailed me: "You know, you could be accused of being a complete sycophant". (I looked the word up in the dictionary (!) and found it to mean a yes-man, bootlicker, brown-noser, toady, lickspittle, flatterer, flunky, lackey, spaniel, doormat, stooge, cringer,suck, suck-up).

Well, yes, they are right. I could. In fact, some people already probably think of me as such. But I would say that if giving someone positive feedback for something amazing that they have done requires that one be labelled a sycophant, I would rather be labelled as such than not give that feedback.

I asked my friend, "Can you imagine what it would be like if we never received anything but negative feedback from our tutors when our homework was returned to us? Imagine how demoralising that would be!"

And yet, in a way, that's exactly the situation that many staff are in. I don't know about SEAS itself, but I do know from personal experience that in some departments there is so little positive feedback received by staff that even the slightest compliment regarding their efforts results in astonishing gushes of gratitude, with comments like "That really made my day!" "All we ever get usually is complaints!" "I just can't stop smiling!" "I'll pass it on to all staff in the department!".

So whether it's an individual, a department, or an entire organisation that has been striving to do something good for you, I feel its really important to express your gratitude. Gratitude is a motivating force, leading to a desire to continue to do well (or even better). Whilst criticism may reap short-term results, long term it can have devastating effects. I am sure that if our teachers had decided to just focus on when we got things wrong, there would be far fewer than 17 of us remaining on our course.

Finally, in response to the idea that I may be ridiculed or looked down upon in some way for highlighting the wonderful attitude of SEAS staff, I recalled the quote

"Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of the things that matter least" (Goethe)

...And in this case (as in many cases) what others think of me matters far less than the staff being recognised for their work. 

...And in any case, if someone was to be so cynical as to believe me to be a sycophant (or lickspittle for that matter), I think I would be something of a fool to attach any importance to their opinion.

Righty ho, on with the show.

Labels: , , , , ,