The blog of jumex - A Dubiously Digital Diglot


the Trev Report 2007-07-03

Hello all and welcome once again to the Trev Report. Wherein you shall find many a tidbit about the life and goings on of Trevor R. Lalish-Menagh, your humble author. As of late my wife, Signe Rose Lalish-Menagh, and I have been preparing for our grand departure from the land of the rising sun after a four-year stint as English teachers. In little more than a month we will be on a plane heading back to our country of birth and a new future. It has been a long three years since my last visit to the continental United States, and I have to admit I am both nervous and thrilled about my impending homecoming.
But now, without further adieu, on with the report.

Trev's Love Life
Signe and I move forward in our fifth year of wedlock unabated by relational strife. Our daily routines drive us along and the thoughts of being close to my beloved compels my drive throughout the long and tiresome days. I am glad she is at my side, a hearty companion and a caring friend. I would be lost without her.

Trev's ALT Work
My last month at my two elementary schools and two junior high schools here in rural Japan looms close. As I while away my time at my desk, I cannot help but remember all the pleasant times I have had out here. My students are my pride and joy, it is them whom I shall miss the dearest of all. I think back to my teachers as a child and remember how they had the power to change my life, and hope that I have been a positive force for some here as well. I imagine that is the hope of any teacher.
There is one last large event coming up soon at work. The first week of July there are a slew of international day events at elementary and junior high schools around the Miyoshi area, where I work. I will be attending many of them, and one is at a school I teach at. As I mentioned in last month's Trev Report, there will be many ALTs (assistant language teachers) from various parts of the world in attendance. I am nervous about the event, but excited at the same time. Much like planning a large convention, there is a certain rush that accompanies the planning of one of these events. It is a good feeling and I am glad to have the opportunity to leave this job having undertook something so noteworthy before I depart.

Trev's Computer Work
My subsequent employer is busying himself with the details of incorporation, legal issues, and the like as I patiently wait in the sidelines, like a football player waiting for the coach to call him into the game. There is precious little for me to do at the present. I spend my time with a borrowed computer from my employer's intended partner familiarizing myself with the ins and outs of the operating system and various applications our potential clients will have trouble with, but without a client to request our services, my study lacks critical focus. Many a time I have tread down a path of study to find later down the road it will have little to no value to us and our clients. With time, I know, my path will become clear, yet my desire to know now what lies ahead kneads at my very being, and my anxiety sometimes comes out in frustration.
What will be needed of me is as of yet undefined, and with that uncertainty comes my fear that I will not be needed at all, a relic of forgotten computer knowledge plunged into a field I have scant experience in. The faith my employer has in me is heartening, and well beyond the faith I have in myself. With a far bit of luck and a great show of aptitude, I might just make it in the city of brotherly love, where I will be moving with my wife Signe in about 2 months. The support of friends and family will be important, especially in those first few months, I believe. It is a blessing that my employer is a man that I can call a friend and to whom I trust. It puts my mind at ease, but still I will need that support.

Trev and Signe's Diet
Our diet and exercise routine is coming along swimmingly. We have altered our regimen slightly to afford us more time on the evenings. Perviously we had been exercising after work around six or seven in the evening, but that left us to eat dinner at a rather late hour. Not liking this arrangement, Signe suggested that we do our exercising in the mornings, having experimented with the idea last fall at a week-long seminar in the city. So we undertook the task of waking at a bit before five each morning to walk and lift weights everyday. On days with foul weather we stay indoors and use our dance pads and a computer program to exercise with.
Following this pattern I recently achieved my ideal weight of 173 pounds. Although I still have a fair amount of flab around my stomach area waiting to be turned into muscle, I feel good at my current weight. Now I must focus my efforts on not slipping up and reverting to my old eating habits; therein lies my greatest difficulties. I still have a problem controlling what I eat. If it were not for Signe's excellent meals I would never had been able to achieve my goals. Here is to hoping that with my new line of work I will be able to maintain my current diet and exercise situation. I am really worried that having coworkers that work late and eat large quantities of take out and junk food, that I will not have the willpower to resist. I do not deal with peer pressure well. I pray that I can endure.

Trev's Studies
My mind has been ill-focused on studies as of late. I ordered the new Foreign Service Officer Test (FSOT) Study Guide and intend to return to my studies for that. The test will now be offered four times a year, so I will have many more opportunities to take it. I am sure that I will be able to pass the test given time and study. I just need to apply myself more rigorously to the task. It will be trying for the first few years in Philadelphia, I imagine. I will be preoccupied with not getting laid off from a new and stressful profession while I acclimate myself to the eastern seaboard and its ways. I will make it though. I have resolve, and that is what you need for these things. I think that through the foreign service that I will be able to make a difference in the US and the world; that is what I truly crave. Yet, only time will tell my story in full.
In the times between I envision finding it a necessity to busy myself with the particulars of my new career in the information technology sector. There is much I must learn, and even more that I have forgotten, about the ins and outs of computers. As for the Macintosh computer in particular, which I will be focusing the greater part of my energies becoming a master in, I am not but an educated novice. There is much work ahead of me, but I am up for the task. I am devoted to the success of this business, and I owe it to my friend and soon-to-be padrone to get to a worthy level of competence in the utmost urgency. For his, and my own, livelihood, I will do my best.

Trev's Books
During my daily commute and my morning walks I listen to audiobooks I get from Here are some of my thought on the books I have listened to recently.
_Voyagers_ by Ben Bova is a science fiction novel written in the crux of the cold war and involves the discovering of an alien spacecraft orbiting around Jupiter and the efforts of the US and Russia to make first contact. I honestly did not like many of the characters in the book, many were quite one-dimensional. For example, the head researcher whose jealousy is so great it usurps all logic, or the woman that uses her body to move up in the ranks. Even though the characters were irritating, though, the premise of the story was gripping: first contact. Many science fiction novels have been tackled the subject, but Ben Bova really brings it to life in his detailed telling. The rendezvous does not feel contrived or unreal and the climax is powerful, even thought the background of the story, the Cold War, is long since been made history. This is the first in a trilogy of books, but I doubt I will venture to read the others. I selected _Voyagers_ because of it's nomination as Science Fiction Audiobook of the Year at this year's Audies awards, the audiobook equivalent of the Oscars. It is read well, but I cannot say I would recommend it to the general audience.
_The Kite Runner_ by Khaled Hosseini is a novel detailing the life of an Afghani boy whose family flees the country as the Red Army invaded in 1979 and it follows his life as he moves to the US and eventually returns to Afghanistan to rescue someone he had long tried to forget. It is a deeply moving story about the relationship between a Shia Hazara and a Pashtun Sunni in Afghanistan and the difference in rank that implies, Hazara being of much lower rank than Pashtuns. The first half of the book details the young man's life in pre-war Afghanistan and his dealings with his neighbors and friends, and a prejudgment against the Hazara, and all Shiites, that is imbued in the society. The second half details his return to Afghan soil after the birth and come to power of the Sunni Taliban. Khaled Hosseini paints a vivid picture of the Afghan landscape amidst his travels and the book is an educating about the region as it is engrossing in it's story of adventure and personal discovery. I can recommend this book to any interested in good fiction as well as those wanting to understand a bit more about the conflicts currently occurring in the desert land.
_The Stolen Child_ by Keith Donohue is another book on the Audies Science Fiction Audiobook of the Year list. It is a fantasy novel about a fairy, a changeling, that swaps places with a little boy and lives his life, while, in turn, the stolen child is transformed into a fairy and is forced to live his lie among the forest hobgoblins, forever a child waiting for his chance to one day steal another life. The format of the book is similar to that of _Water for Elephants_ that I reviewed previously, insomuch that the chapters are staggered so that the odd chapters are told from the perspective of the changeling, and the even ones from that of the stolen boy. The book follows their parallel existences for some thirty years and their chance encounters and complex lives. It is an enjoyable listen and the story is moving and well thought out. Donohue creates an intricate fiction that draws the reader in and makes them believe. It was a joy to encounter.
_Hubris_ by Michael Isikoff and David Corn is a detailed after-the-fact telling of the campaign to bring the current Iraq War to life in the White House, and especially in the Vice President's office. The book goes into great detail about the now unclassified documents that were used to convince both Congress and the American people that warring with the Iraqis would be the right thing to do. It describes well the Weapons of Mass Destruction debacle and the Plame affair, as well as the constant blame-shifting after the excreta hit the ventilator. I have to admit, I did not follow the story all that well as it was going on, so this was an interesting retelling of the facts and it was very enlightening. Of course, like all books involving politics, one must take opinions within with a grain of salt. The book certainly leans to the left in its judgments of the events, but it does make sure all the facts are spread out in gross detail so the reader can judge for themselves. It is thick in points and it is the events more than the writing style that makes the tale riveting, but all in all a worthwhile read for anyone that is interested in the goings-on of the White House and the CIA in the days between 9/11 and the start of the war.

That is about it for this installment of the Trev Report. I hope you have enjoyed reading it. I have left out some sections, and I hope that interested parties will, if sections are missed, email me personally and request them added. I will be happy to oblige.
Until next time, I hope you are well, and if you have some free time I would love to hear from you through email, phone, or whatever forms of communication you luxuriate in employing.

Trevor Lalish-Menagh | The mediocre teacher tells. | The good teacher explains. | The superior teacher demonstrates.
+81 (80) 1929-5216 | The great teacher inspires. ~William Arthur Ward

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