Canadian Province Flashcards

2018-10-15

This is a deck of maps of Canada's provinces and territories. Canada only has thirteen provinces and territories in total, so it won't take long to learn. These images are SVG, so they'll scale well to any size screen.

Here's the 13-card package for Anki.

MapName
Canadian Provinces/Alberta.svgAlberta
Canadian Provinces/British Columbia.svgBritish Columbia
Canadian Provinces/Manitoba.svgManitoba
Canadian Provinces/New Brunswick.svgNew Brunswick
Canadian Provinces/Newfoundland and Labrador.svgNewfoundland and Labrador
Canadian Provinces/Northwest Territories.svgNorthwest Territories
Canadian Provinces/Nova Scotia.svgNova Scotia
Canadian Provinces/Nunavut.svgNunavut
Canadian Provinces/Ontario.svgOntario
Canadian Provinces/Prince Edward Island.svgPrince Edward Island
Canadian Provinces/Quebec.svgQuebec
Canadian Provinces/Saskatchewan.svgSaskatchewan
Canadian Provinces/Yukon.svgYukon
MapName

If you're thinking of visiting Canada some day, it might be handy to know the general geography. Also, having some general geographic awareness of a country helps you connect with people who tell stories about the place when they lived or visited there.

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Organizing Files

2018-10-07

As teachers, we have a lot of data, and how we organize our files impacts whether we can easily share them with other teachers in the future. Here are some organizational tips I've learned over the past decade that I think will help you keep your data organized so you can work smoothly with other teachers to develop excellent educational materials. Let's assume you have a shared drive, such as a local network folder, Google Drive, or Dropbox.

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If you think it's useful, and you only have a paper copy, scan it. Some people have physical folders with copies of all the great worksheets they've made or received, but generally speaking, digital is better. Here's why.

  1. You can email it to a friend or coworker.
  2. Your shelf won't fill up.
  3. You can search for it quickly by name.
  4. You can copy/paste good parts and use them in new materials.
  5. You can easily take it with you when changing jobs.

Our school has a photocopier/scanner combo machine with a feeder. It scans stacks of papers and makes PDFs. If you have that kind of device on hand, scanning things is quick, and surely it will benefit you later.

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Let's suppose you have a bunch of documents. You might keep them on your computer in folders like this.

Homework ├ 2016 ├ 2017 ├ 2018 ├ Amazing Plants (2).odt ├ Copy of Amazing Animals.odt New ├ Letter to Parents (New).odt Notes ├ Eighth Grade ├ Ninth Grade ├ Letter to Parents.odt ├ Seventh Grade ├ Grades (2017).ods ├ Grades (2018).ods Oral Communication ├ 2012 ├ 2013 Pictures ├ Summer Slides.ppt ├ Summer Slides PDF.ppt.pdf Tests ├ Seventh Grade Term 1 Test.odt ├ Seventh Grade Term 1 Test (Old).odt Worksheets

When we start creating and organizing data, something like this seems like it'll work. But over time, issues creep up. Here are some tips that help things stay sorted.

  1. Make the year folders top-level. If you have file names like Grades (2017).xls and Grades (2018).xls, you're mixing last year's data with this year's. It makes more sense to have a folder called 2017 and another called 2018. Put grades inside those folders.

  2. Don't use parentheses. In the above example, consider these two files.

    Tests ├ Seventh Grade Term 1 Test.odt ├ Seventh Grade Term 1 Test (Old).odt

    The bottom file is apparently old, but next year, both files will be old. What should your file names be then? I don't know! But if you sort the data by year at top level, you can avoid this whole problem.

  3. Remove pointless words. Here's a directory worth cleaning up.

    Homework ├ 2018 ├ Copy of Amazing Animals.odt ├ Amazing Plants (2).odt

    They probably got those names because the user was copy/pasting files, and the system automatically added Copy of and (2). To make the data easy to read, we should go through and rename files, removing the extra text as appropriate. It would be much prettier if it looked like this.

    Homework ├ 2018 ├ Amazing Animals.odt ├ Amazing Plants.odt

  4. Use numbers instead of words. The example has notes for Seventh Grade, Eighth Grade, and Ninth Grade. If you sort the directory alphabetically, it shows up like this.

    Notes ├ Eighth Grade ├ Ninth Grade ├ Seventh Grade

    That's awkward because seventh grade comes last. If you use numerals instead, it looks much more sensible.

    Notes ├ 7 ├ 8 ├ 9

  5. Don't repeat extension information. In the above example, there's a file, Summer Slides PDF.ppt.pdf. The file type is expressed by the end of the file name, so it should simply be called Summer Slides.pdf. Duplicate information about the format makes things hard to read, and it's not needed.

  6. Preserve the original file. In the above example, there are two related files.

    Pictures ├ Summer Slides.ppt ├ Summer Slides PDF.ppt.pdf

    It looks like the user made a PowerPoint file and then generated a PDF of it. There are good reasons to do that — for example, I often copy data onto my tablet, but my tablet doesn't support PowerPoint. As a temporary measure, it's reasonable to make PDFs, but for archiving, it's unnecessary. When you or another teacher is looking at the data next year, the original file is by far the most useful, because it can easily be modified to fit new situations. The PDF doesn't help, so delete it and be happy.

  7. Use the date if really needed. In the above example, there are two related files.

    New ├ Letter to Parents (New).odt Notes ├ Ninth Grade ├ Letter to Parents.odt

    Most of the time, you don't need both files, so you should just replace the bottom file with the top one. However, sometimes you really want a record of something. Perhaps you sent a letter, realized there was a typo, fixed it, and sent a new version. In that case, you could put the date in the file names, like this.

    Notes ├ Ninth Grade ├ 2018-09-01 Letter to Parents.odt ├ 2018-09-05 Letter to Parents.odt

    This works well because the two files are in the same folder, and the file names tell us which was sent when. Always use the format YYYY-MM-DD or YYYYMMDD. This is unambiguous — you don't wonder whether 9/3 means September 3rd or March 9th — and it automatically sorts in chronological order.

  8. Don't assume course names will stay the same. The example has a top-level folder, Oral Communication. That class used to be offered in Japanese high schools, but several years ago the national curriculum was revised, and it no longer exists. Instead, there are two related classes, English Communication and English Expression. If I want to organize everything by course name, what do I do? Should I leave Oral Communication there, knowing that new teachers will never look at it? Should I rename it to English Communication, because the two courses are similar? It's unclear what to do, but if the data were sorted by year at top level, we wouldn't even be asking the question.

  9. Don't assume event names will stay the same. This is similar to the previous point. My school has an event called "International Day", but it used to be called "MECC", and from time to time it's called "Board Game Day". If file organization depends on the name staying the same from year to year, it's going fail.

  10. Video files might need special treatment. If you have lots of very large video files, perhaps you can't just copy them to a new folder each year, because it might fill up your hard drive. You might need a separate top-level folder just for videos. In my experience, only video files are large enough where this is a concern.

    If I'm using large videos that are on YouTube, I like to keep the URLs in a notes file, and I can download the videos again in the future.

    I always take videos of students' presentations. This lets me grade the presentations at a leisurely speed, and when students have questions about why they got a particular grade, we can watch the video together. A month or two after the term ends, I delete most of those files, saving a few of my favorite ones to be used as examples in future years.

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If we apply the above rules to the initial example, we get a directory structure that's much easier to navigate. It would look something like this.

2012 ├ Oral Communication 2013 ├ Oral Communication 2016 ├ 7 ├ Homework ├ 8 ├ 9 2017 ├ 7 ├ Homework ├ Worksheets Grades.ods Term 1 Test.odt ├ 8 ├ 9 2018 ├ 7 ├ Homework ├ Amazing Animals.odt ├ Amazing Plants.odt Grades.ods Term 1 Test.odt ├ 8 Summer Slides.ppt ├ 9 ├ 2018-09-01 Letter to Parents.odt ├ 2018-09-05 Letter to Parents.odt

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I like to create materials for classroom use, and I enjoy sharing those materials with others. This is particularly important for a school like mine, where we have several native teachers on staff. Every few years, some teachers go, others come, and there's a decent chance that we teach different grades or courses than what we taught previously.

When you're planning for a class you haven't taught before, or haven't taught for several years, the first step is to ask last year's teacher for their data. If that data is organized well, you'll definitely appreciate the work they did to get it that way.

Some teachers are self-conscious about sharing their materials. They might refuse to upload files, or they might upload them but leave everything in a horrible mess where we can't really tell how things were meant to be used. Perhaps they lack confidence, and they are worried that if other teachers see the low-quality materials, their poor teaching practices will be revealed. This type of concern is understandable, but if you're feeling it, here are some things to keep in mind. First, we all make mediocre materials from time to time, and yours won't be the worst. Even if some of your materials are mediocre, there are probably some gems that will excite your coworkers. Second, materials are only one aspect of teaching, and looking at them doesn't give other people enough information to judge your general effectiveness as a teacher. Third, if you're going to continue teaching in the future, then sharing your materials with others is a great way to get their feedback. If they find typos, they'll tell you, and if they make an updated version, just ask them to send you a copy.

Be positive, share your data with other teachers, get their feedback and their data, and work together to create cool stuff.


The Tatsudomari Line

2018-09-16

For the long weekend, I took the shinkansen to Akita City, rented a motorcycle and went riding. One goal was to ride the Tatsudomari Line (竜泊ライン), a famous motorcycle road in the Tsugaru Peninsula of NW Aomori. So I rode up coastal Route 101 from Noshiro, spent the night in Hirosaki, and rode the Tatsudomari Line the following day.

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Later in the day I headed south, first on Route 101 back to Noshiro, and then down the expressway to Honjo. Todd put me up for the night, and we went drinking at Castaways. The next morning we went to visit Michan and Eva.

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Tohoku in the fall is a magical place. For the week or two before the rice harvest, the plants turn yellow and gold and sparkle in the sun. If the weather is good, any activity that gets you into the countryside is a great experience. When I lived in Akita, I was driving and jogging every day in that environment, and since it's awesome, this weekend I went for the shinkansen plus bike rental option. Highly recommended.

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I owned a Honda CBR250 for several years and sold it last fall when I moved apartments. I sold it for several reasons, but one reason is that getting out of Tokyo on a motorcycle is tiring. The hour plus ride on city streets in city traffic is one I'd rather avoid. By taking the train and then renting, I can save my riding energy for the good roads, and it gives me more range. Get to the good places, ride the motorcycle in a leisurely fashion, visit friends, have a good time.

Plans are deliberately indefinite, more to travel than to arrive anywhere. We are just vacationing. Secondary roads are preferred. Paved county roads are the best, state highways are next. Freeways are the worst. We want to make good time, but for us now this is measured with emphasis on “good” rather than “time” and when you make that shift in emphasis the whole approach changes. Twisting hilly roads are long interms of seconds but are much more enjoyable on a cycle where you bank into turns and don’t get swung from side to side in any compartment. Roads with little traffic are more enjoyable, as well as safer. Roads free of drive-ins and billboards are better, roads where groves and meadows and orchards and lawns come almost to the shoulder, where kids wave to you when you ride by, where people look from their porches to see who it is, where when you stop to ask directions or information the answer tends to be longer than you want rather than short, where people ask where you’re from and how long you’ve been riding.

— Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Police Harassment

2018-08-26

Here's a history of times in Japan that the police stopped me on the street and demanded to see my Residence Card.

I've written about this in the past, but the short story is... The cops come up to me and demand to see my passport or Residence Card. But only foreigners have those, and the only reason they think I'm a foreigner is my skin color. It's pretty obviously racist. However, the law is ambiguous, and getting arrested would be horrible, so there's very little I can do except document the badness and share it with others.

WhenWhereDetails
2010-07-28Narita AirportWalking to the check-in counter to see Toby off.
2010-07-28Narita AirportTwo hours later while sitting on a bench.
2014-05-29Musashino (Musashisakai)Walking to dance class after work.
2014-06-18Tokyo Metro (Kayabacho)Escorting students on a school trip to Tsukiji.
2014-07-07Musashino (Musashisakai)Walking to the coffee shop.
2014-09-05Musashino (Midori-cho)Walking to dance class after work.
2018-08-24Musashino (Midori-cho)Walking home from work. YouTube.

Each time it happens it's scary, and it doesn't get any better over time. Each time they come up to me, there's a chance I could have forgotten or lost my Residence Card, and then I'd be arrested and thrown in jail. Also, once you realize that you're the target, because they'll harass you when you're simply walking down the street, your perspective on the police changes. They see me as the likely criminal. In their eyes, I'm a danger to society. And all because I did ... nothing at all.

I live here and go about my life normally. I work a job and pay my taxes, just like anyone would. If I'm not doing anything suspicious or breaking any laws, I just want the cops to leave me the fuck alone. They don't, and it sucks, and it's sad.

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Newfoundland

2018-08-14

For summer vacation I went to Newfoundland to visit David and Amanda.

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The scenery is beautiful. Lots of pine trees, some exposed rock. It's kind of like Maine or northern Vermont. The food has been pretty tasty but rather greasy. Fine for vacation, though. Lots of fries, fried cod, fried sea food, and other assorted brown and tan foods. Mostly sun, some clouds, some light rain. Nothing too hot, which is a nice contrast from the ridiculous temperatures we've had this summer in Tokyo.

Newfoundland is really far from most anywhere. I listened to Great Big Sea a lot back in college and thought it'd be neat to see the places they're singing about, but it's hard to get up here. Finally, with David and Amanda living here, I found the chance! There are fewer people here than I had somehow expected — the population of St. John's, the largest city, is 108,000 people. When parking or shopping or sightseeing, there's a lot more elbow space than I'm used to. It's quite relaxing.


Tops and Bottoms

2018-08-07

My dance group was invited to perform in a new musical called Tops & Bottoms. We performed at the Akasaka Blitz venue on August seventh. The musical itself was composed of professional musical theater performers. Four dance groups appeared in dance-only events and as back dancers in musical songs. My group was organized by Kraus, Ryota, and Ayano. We had three songs: a standalone dance number to the song Boogie Wonderland, a masquerade ball dance to the song Keep My Cool, and a back dance segment for a fight scene and song from the musical.

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I only have a short video clip from Boogie Wonderland. Usually dance events aren't strict about photography, but this is a new musical, and I suppose the production team has some idea of how they want to market it. That's OK, but unfortunately it means I don't have video of the whole thing.