11 things (a blog challenge)

Recently a blog challenge has been making the rounds of the ELT world (or the small part of it which I’m familiar with).  Rachael Roberts from ELT-Resourceful tagged me so I am happily joining in and sharing 11 things about myself and answering her 11 questions.  I also want to thank Sandy Millin and Malu Sciamarelli for also inviting me to join.

The blog challenge consists of:

  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers.
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

11 random facts about myself:

1. I can play the hand ocarina.  This is sort of hard to explain so I made a little video:

2. I am a terrible driver.  I have managed to cause 5 accidents in the limited amount of time I have been behind the wheel.  On one occasion I managed to run over a tree in the private parking lot of a bank.  A police officer just happened to be nearby and watched the whole thing.  He walked up to my car, shook his head and said, “I’m not going to write you a ticket, because I don’t even know how to describe what I just saw.”  He told me to buy a new tree, explain what I did to the bank manager, and replace the now dead (murdered) tree.  Which I did and learned a very valuable lesson.  Digging a hole for a tree is very hard work.

3. I like to snowboard.  A lot.  I also like to go off jumps when I snowboard.  Sometimes I end up landing on my back.  Sometimes on my head.  I enjoy a poor jump almost as much as a good landing.

4. I can cook a mean meatloaf.  It is delicious because I stuff the center with about a pound of cheese which pours out when the meatloaf is cut open.  I find that putting huge amounts of cheese in or on anything I cook makes it tastes pretty good.

5. I once hitched a ride with my friend as he drove from Arizona to Detroit in a barely running red Ford Probe.  To kill time as we drove through Texas (and if you’ve ever driven through Texas, you know that the only thing to do with time on such a journey is kill it) we made up long lists of random words.  I can still remember 62 of the words from one particular list which included: lizard, hat, God, cloud, and whisky.

6. When I was a child I liked to eat paste.  I don’t eat paste now.  But sometimes I remember the starchy tang of it as being pretty delicious.

7. I have never truly gotten over the fact that leg warmers were at the height of fashion when I was 13 years old.  When ’80s style clothing came back into style a few years ago, I was very happy and thought people looked utterly fantastic.

8. I love to dance.  I especially love to dance to Chicago house music.  A friend of mine once said that I danced like Michael Jackson.  This was perhaps the greatest compliment I had ever received.  Unfortunately my wife was there and after a few moments of stunned silence, her laughter rolled through the room loud and long.  She will still occasionally say, “And you dance like Michael Jackson,”  which is her code for, “you are getting a little full of yourself.”

9. I would very much like to learn to be a better listener.  At the age of 42, I still unfortunately feel like being there for a friend or family or student means helping them solve their problems.  So I have a hard time shutting up and just listening.

10. I eat breakfast each and every morning.  I have done so for the past 7 years.  I usually eat a piece of toast, a cup of coffee, and some stir fried vegetables.  But I will happily make and eat risotto, rice balls, and even a re-heat a cold piece of pizza if I have one.

11. I love to go to the 100 yen store, buy this and that, go home and put it all together, and see how it changes a room.  Sometimes it makes things better.  Sometimes not so much.  But since it only costs about 4 or 5 dollars, I don’t really mind the mistakes.

My 11 questions from Rachael:

1. Why did you start blogging and how has it differed from your expectations?

I started blogging because I enjoyed reading blogs.  Not ELT blogs, but economic blogs.  Economists, policy makers, graduate students, and regular old folk shared ideas (and sometimes snark), and hashed out the direction that economics was going to take in the near future.  I wanted to get in on something similar.  I started a blog about my experiences as a language teacher and then started hunting out other ELT blogs.  It turned out that ELT blogs were mostly missing snark, but were long on the sense of a community trying to finger out where it was going.

2. What’s your earliest childhood memory?

I was watching a parade march by.  I remember the Shriners zipping around in their little cars.  It was awesome.

3. Tell us about someone you admire, and say why.

The principle of my school, Dr. Matsu Takasuke.  He is a world renowned chemist who helped discover the quantum tunnelling effect.  But when a student comes and asks him a question, any question, he takes the time to really think about what the student is trying to find out, and then he helps the student go about the process of learning.  Last year one of the students came and said, “I really want to study alchemy.”  About an hour later, the student walked away knowing that alchemy was the foundation of chemistry and how early alchemy experiments led to a greater understanding of the physical world.  It was an amazing thing to watch.

4 .What was the last book you read and what did you think of it?

I just finished Big Deal: One Year as a Professional Poker Player, by Anthony Holden.  If you think playing poker (or gambling in general) is stupid, I cannot recommend this book.  But if you have ever played poker and wondered what it would be like to play much more poker and win (or lose) much more money, I highly recommend this book.

5. Do you prefer walking or running? Why?

Walking over running. I’m a strolling kind of guy, I guess.  But if it’s all downhill, I like to run.  But it’s rarely all downhill.

6. What was your first paid job?

I worked at a potato stand in a food court and my job was to wash the potatoes.  So for a few hours every day, I opened box after box of potatoes.  Then I grabbed a brush, turned on the cold water tap, and started scrubbing.

7. What five famous people would you invite to a dinner party, and why?

I would love to have Stan Lee, the guy who invented Spider Man, the Fantastic Four, and Iron Man.  I would love to have Alice Munro, my favourite writer.  I guess I could go on and make a list of my favourite architect and musician, etc.  But when I really think about it, instead of someone I already know and like, I would rather just have a collection of 5 people who are amazing at what they do, whatever it might be, all sitting around the table.  I would probably really enjoy hearing something entirely knew from a world authority on shark mating or someone who was finding novel ways to boost the world’s fresh water supply.

8. What’s the first website you check/go on each day? Why?

I usually jump on Facebook, to check out what my friends and family are up to.  But sometimes, if there’s something news-y happening, I hit Huffington Post first.

9. What can you remember about the first class you ever taught?

Not much.  I was working at a vocational high school in the countryside of Japan.  Almost none of the students we’re planning to go on to university.  And of the 80% of students who were moving right into the work force, none were planning to use English in their jobs.  So I remember feeling frustrated, trying to keep things fun, and using a lot of comic books and other materials I thought would catch the students’s interest from the get go.

10. Flowers or chocolates?

Flowers, especially broken tulips.

Flowers fill a room with a special kind of warmth.  Plus, everyone in my family are salty snack lovers.  We’ve had chocolate sitting on our kitchen shelf for months without being eaten.

11. How do you feel about reality TV shows?

I don’t.  I guess as a concept, I have no problem with them.  We are all voyeurs at heart.  It’s part of being a social animal and learning how to not only adhere to the norms of a community, but to feel comfortable with the particular ways you might enjoy breaking those norms (strange concept huh, surreptitiously watching people to figure out how to mis-behave).   But I would much rather watch a drama.  I’m amazed by just how good TV has gotten in the past few years.

Many of the bloggers in my immediate circle have already been tagged.  Which gives me a chance to not only learn more about members of my PLN, but also to give a shout out and say thank you to some bloggers who have no idea how much I enjoy what they do (and sorry if you’ve already been tagged):

And here are my 11 questions for them:

  1. What is the strangest thing to inspire one of your lessons?
  2. What is your comfort food?
  3. Ocean or mountains?
  4. Three phrases you think people need to know in any language?
  5.  Where is the one place you’ve been to that you feel like you must get back to again?
  6. What internet site is the best for wasting time, if you have any time to waste?
  7. Happiness = x + y; where x=? and y=?
  8. What game did you like to play as a child?  Why?
  9. What flavours do you associate with at least three languages?
  10. What is something in your home which, while of little practical value, you absolutely wouldn’t want to live without?
  11. All or nothing?

4 thoughts on “11 things (a blog challenge)

  1. Second try at this commenting malarkey ;)Thanks for joining in Kevin! I agree that cheese makes everything better, and I have no idea how people can go without breakfast – I think I've only missed it a handful of times in my life! :)Sandy


  2. Hi Sandy,Thanks for putting up with Blogger's comment malarkey. I am very very appreciative for your perseverance, as well as you tagging me for this blog challenge. And it's fantastic to know that you are also a dedicated breakfast eater. I often wonder how people can so blithely pass over a meal…and the most important meal of the day at that. But what do I know. I can't even drive.Kevin


  3. I'm with you guys on breakfast. Can't do without it. though I keep it simple.I'm also with you, Kevin, on the topic of reality shows.Interesting that you can snowboard but not drive well! Take care!I have a soft spot for tulips as my mother grew them when I was young…Naomi


  4. Hi Naomi,Wondering if you have a traditional Israeli breakfast. My friends always use to eat this fantastic cubed, marinated salad which they swore was what everyone ate for breakfast. I never thought about the fact that I can snowboard but am a lousy driver. Hmmmm…something to explore some day.And I'm off to buy some tulips right now. Hoping to find some yellow and orange broken tulips. But seems like there's only pink floating around now. Have a great year Naomi. See you on Twitter and will be looking forward to your blog posts in 2014.Kevin


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