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February 13, 2012

I’m moving to Seoul, South Korea!

Also, the blog has moved! Click HERE to head over to the new site which has a bunch of information on this move.


Photos of the Week 5

December 4, 2011

Forgive me for mostly doing a lot of photo only posts lately, that’s primarily because there isn’t a whole lot to do around town right now. Only about a third of the mountain is open for skiing and snowboarding so far and because of this business in general around town is slow for the time being. But that’s soon to change with the holidays coming up. In the meantime, here are some more photos from around Mammoth.

Main Street

I’d say that the snow out there is a little worse than mediocre. It hasn’t snowed in a few weeks and it has been terribly cold and windy lately (5 F at night and gusts upwards of 100 mph at the mountain summit), so the conditions have only been getting worse.

The Twin Lakes have frozen over.

I went over to my co-worker Anne's house in June Lake (a town of 600, 30 miles north of Mammoth) for a nice dinner before she moved to Wisconsin for med school. This is her great dog Sasha!

I brought a bunch of great caramel apples from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory. English Toffee, Orea and Cheesecake flavors.



Mrs. Kramer’s Class Has Some Questions

November 26, 2011

(note: Sure it’s been nearly 8 months since I returned from Japan, but this piece just seemed to trickle together very slowly.)

Being that my mother has been an elementary school teacher for over thirty years, my teaching in elementary and middle schools in Japan was ripe for experimental exchange between our students. My mother curated a set of questions from her students for me to ask mine. Some of these questions I was simply able to answer myself, while others are the result of my polling various different students and getting a feel for the best answer. My students really enjoyed knowing they were getting questions from Miami. After I returned to Miami from Fuji City, I came into my mother’s class room and spent time with her students, presenting them with the answers from the Japanese students as well as fielding any new questions they may have had. It was great experience for both the students and myself.

1.  “How do you say Good morning in Japanese?
Ohayou gozaimasu, pronounced phonetically as “Ohio go-zai-mas”
2.  “What are the most important things that Mr. Kramer has taught you?
My students felt that “Hello” and “Thank you” were the most helpful.
3.  “What important celebrations are part of Japanese culture?  How do you celebrate them?
The most important holiday on the Japanese calendar is Shogatsu, which are New Years Day celebrations. New Years Eve is not a big party day as it is in much of the western world. Not long after the clock strikes midnight, the people of Japan go to sleep so they can rise early to go to the Shinto temple the next morning. Some of the more clever students responded with “My birthday!”
4.  How much time do you spend on homework after school, and on weekends?
Japanese school usually runs from 7:30 AM until 3:20 PM, but more often than not, students come to school early and leave late to participate in club activities (sports, academics, competition practices) often not leaving until 6:00 PM. After that, most all students attend juku, which are cram schools tutoring students in various subjects such as English and math. Juku often goes on until 9:00 PM or even later. Some students will usually study or do homework upon returning home. So the answer to the question is “quite a lot.”
5.  How much do you read after school?
Reading is hugely popular in Japan, in my junior high school there were always lines out the library door during recess of kids returning and checking out stacks of books, often 10 or 20 high. Many students will read recreationally between classes, comic books being especially popular, but novels of a wide range of genres are also read. So the answer to the question is, again, “quite a lot.”
6.  What do you like the most about your country?
“Peace!” and “sushi” were  easily the most popular answers.
7.  Do you know enough English that you can flaunt it to other people?
As an indication of the answer, only a select few of my students would even understand what this question means.
8.  If you could go anywhere in Japan, where would you go?  and why?
Hokkaido and Okinawa are by far the most common answers to this question. These locations are much like Alaska and Hawaii of the US. Hokkaido is the northern most island of Japan, with abundant snowfall and distinct cuisine. The Sapporo Winter Festival is by far the most popular festival in Japan. Okinawa is the southernmost island group in Japan, actually being closer to Taiwan than to main land Japan, and is seen as a tropical paradise.
9.  How fast does the bullet train go?
240-300 km/h (149-186 mph)!
10.  What kind of sports do you like to play?
Basketball and soccer are by far the most popular sports in my junior high school, with baseball close behind in third. We actually had the number one boys basketball team, number one softball team and number one boys soccer team in Fuji City for the 2010/2011 school year.
11.  What is the favorite food in Japan?
As far as Japanese food goes, sushi and various types of fish were popular answers, but the winner, by far, was ramen noodles. Ramen is basically Japanese fast food; cheap, delicious and leagues better than the Cup Noodle we associate ramen with in the States. Outside of Japanese food, McDonald’s is also a big favorite. Some of my students have such an affinity for the Golden Arches that they thought it to be Japanese and called me a liar when I told them it was from America.
12.  What is the most popular sport that people like?
Baseball is by far the most popular sport in Japan. Some of my students are under delusions that soccer or basketball are number one, but that’s usually because they play those sports for the school team. Soccer has definitely been gaining popularity in the nation and grows larger with each passing FIFA World Cup.
13.  What is the best part of living in Fuji City?
I exclusively received two answers, “views of Mt. Fuji” and “my house.” A testament of the exciting metropolis that Fuji City is.
14.  Does Mr. Kramer speak Japanese very well?
“Oh yes, very well, very good.” They are liars.

Photos of the Week 4

November 19, 2011

Last week the Mammoth Mountain opened up for skiing. Haven’t really been up to much, so I haven’t been taking many pictures, but enjoy nonetheless!

The Twin Lakes in front of Tamarack have frozen over.

It's quite terrifying to stand on a frozen lake.

One of the best perks of working the nightshift at a hotel with a restaurant are the free meals.

Mammoth Mountain is open for business!

Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge area

On the lift

There isn’t a whole lot of snow on the mountain, as such only 4 chair lifts are open out of 23, so the riding isn’t the best, but it’s nice to be out there able to get a few runs in before laundry has to be done.

Photos of the Week 3

October 29, 2011

I took a drive down Route 395 to areas just south of Mammoth to take a look at areas with spectacular fall colors in the Rock Creek and Convict Lake areas. Look at all this yellow!

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Simply Pictures: Yosemite National Park

October 22, 2011

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Let’s Talk About Where I Work

October 19, 2011
Tamarack Lodge was built in 1924 by the Foy family from Los Angeles, on whom the Bob Hope movie “The Seven Little Foys” was based. The family used the house as a place to entertain guests from Hollywood. In 1927, Lloyd B. Austin bought the property and would subsequently own it for the next twenty years. It was during this time that cabins started being built, fishermen during the summer and skiiers in the winter. At the time there were no roads to Mammoth Lakes, so all transportation in the winter was via dog sled, snowshoe or ski.