Hello again everybody. It's wonderful to virtually see you all today. I've missed you for the past few months. But anyway, as you can tell by the name, this update is just a quick heads up on what's going on for sakura season here in my little city of Aizu. Most of the places nearby are pretty colorful, but since Aizu is in the middle of a valley and is significantly colder than other places in Fukushima prefecture, the season arrives a bit later. I have seen one or two blossoms opening on a few trees, though, and I'm thinking within a week or two it's going to be a pink-a-palooza all over this place. I'm really looking forward to going to a hanami (or two) with some friends when the time comes, but for now, I can wait patiently.
    "So, what else has been happening the past few months?" I hear you ask. At least that's what I'm imagining everyone saying, so let's address that. April in Japan means the beginning of the new school year for the children, as well as the fiscal new year, so it's been a little taxing on a lot of people. My kids classes are very different now, which includes many moving to the next preschool, elementary school, and junior high school classes. I have to admit, it's a great feeling to see students that I've been teaching for nearly the past two years improving and growing up. It's kind of bitter-sweet, though, since I know I'm not going to live in Aizu for the rest of my life, and at some point I'm going to have to say goodbye to all of them. And then those mixed feelings are mixed with more mixed feelings since I've missed seeing some of my own cousins getting older and growing up. I've still got time, though, so I'll just enjoy the way things are until I inevitably return to the USA in the future.
    I hope to write again before the end of the month and include heaps of sakura pictures and wonderful goodness for the whole family to enjoy! Until then, please comment and let me know if there's a topic you want me to write or talk about in the future. I'll try to honor as many requests as I can, including video requests, which I'll be sure to post on YouTube. It's been way too long since I made one, and my channel is puny with only two videos on it. ToT Have a good one everybody!

    I had written an entry about my "before-sakura adventures" yesterday, and it was a pretty light-hearted, fun little post. By the time I had finished, however, I had learned of the attacks at yesterday's Boston Marathon. For those who know me, I'm from a small town in New Hampshire, just about an hour from Boston. When I think about going to the city, Boston is the place I imagine, and though I pronounce my r's and almost never say "wicked," I've always regarded myself proudly as a New Englander.
    I've been to Boston countless times and walked the freedom trail, visited the museums and aquariums on multiple occasions, explored around the North End and Chinatown, been on a few cruises out in the harbor, and I have known a few people who ran in the Boston Marathon at some point.I didn't live there, and I didn't realize it until just recently, but I consider Boston to be "my" city. Nobody in Japan knows what New Hampshire is, so my answer to the question "Where are you from?" is always "near Boston."
    I had a lot to say about this, but who would've guessed that someone else would beat me to it and say it a lot better than I probably would have. Patton Oswalt, a comedian, pretty much put to words what I was going to write and posted it on facebook. He wrote,
Boston. Fucking horrible.

I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, "Well, I've had it with humanity."

But I was wrong. I don't know what's going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

But here's what I DO know. If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, "The good outnumber you, and we always will."
    I'm not sure what I else I can really add to that, so I'll just offer my condolences to the victims and families, and those affected by yesterday's tragedy. We're all here to support you.
    On another note, I'm including the post I had written yesterday, unedited and unchanged. Just click on "read more" to see the whole thing. Enjoy.





    I couldn't, with all that's gone on, write an entry like I usually do today. It's been ten years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and just walking across campus today, I can feel something different than what I've ever really felt on this campus. Just walking across the UP, the sight of the flag flying at half mast, the cadet marching vigils, and the hundreds of small flags arranged on the grass, it's hard not to feel moved and sympathetic for the people who have been living a decade without a loved one who they thought were just going to another day of work.
    Ten years ago, I was in seventh grade. I remember that day that we were all called to our advisor's rooms with the rest of our classmates and that I was a little confused, but not nervous or anxious. I remember being shown the video of what had happened on a small TV in a little room, and watching everyone react. I had no family anywhere near NYC at that point, and I don't think I had really left NH except to visit Boston and some parts of Maine, so in all honesty, I don't feel like I can relate to many other people who can recall their exact thoughts and feelings at the moment they found out.
    Now, ten years later, I'm in my final year of college, getting ready to graduate, and I've been many different places. Vermont, New Orleans, Washington DC, Florida, Maryland, and NYC close to a dozen times. I went through my freshmen year and met lots of new people, some of which I know are from NYC, and my girlfriend's family even lives in Queens. I think I can honestly say that now, after all the people I've met and things I've done, I feel it more now, ten years after the fact, than I did on that day in 7th grade.
    It might not be much, but I want to offer my sincerest condolences to those most affected by the attacks. I want to thank all the people who were serving or chose to serve after September 11, 2001 in the United States Military. I want to thank Police, Fire, and Medical personnel who gave themselves to doing everything they could after the attacks. And I also want to thank the everyday civilians who volunteered themselves to help out in anyway they could, reminding everyone why we love living in America. Never Forget.

    I’ve been a lazy person lately. No updates, no video of the week. Did I forget? No, but I’ve been very busy. Two camps and a job use take up a lot of time.  But I’ve still been listening to Japanese music and watching Japanese movies! I can understand more words and phrases now. And I’ve met a lot of new friends. They’re helping me learn Japanese, and I’m grateful. What’s the topic of this post? A few of my own ideas about life.
    I’m a fairly easygoing person. It seems like everyone else is so uptight, so I always seem happy. Why is that? I don’t worry about the small things. Really. That’s all. Somebody giving you a look is no big deal. That guy’s tone of voice doesn’t really matter. Wake up every day and think optimistically. Dance. Trust people. Find some things that you enjoy doing. You’re life will start to become happier.
    But I understand. Nobody can be happy all the time. I guess it’s just my personality. Actually, the Tao Teh Ching is pretty helpful. I disagree with a few of the concepts, but most of it is very wise. I definitely recommend reading it.
    And that’s all I have to say. You don’t want to listen to me talk all day, so goodbye for now. Thanks for reading!