Alaska English JET Middle School Murakami

License Plate English

I did a hastily prepared worksheet today with four classes, from first grade to third grade (junior high 7th through 9th). I got the idea from a feature on the Anchorage Daily News website showcasing reader submitted vanity plates. The goal was for the students to figure out the meaning of real Alaska license plates. For example, “SNOMAN,” “IXLR8,” and “LVWNTR.” They then had to create six-letter plates from “Murakami” and “I love English,” then create their own personalized plate. If they wrote it on the board, they could get a sticker. It was an amazing success. I was astonished at how quickly they understood the concept, and how creative their own vanity plates were. Click the image below to see a whole gallery of my third graders’ creations.

Study Hard


Snow Jumping

Chris coaches me on a 15-foot castle jump.


Barack Obama

I’ve been watching the elections back in the states more fervently than I would like to admit. It’s ridiculous while at the same time very exciting. In 2000, I would have been extremely excited by a McCain nomination. Now, with the incredible promise of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, I find myself being far more critical than I really think I deserve to be. After eight years during which many people like me would have voted for almost anyone should it mean Bush leave the White House, it’s sort of bewildering to have two intriguing, historical options.

As a young person who remembers watching Bill Clinton’s 1992 victory on television, remembers the paltry, cynical divisiveness of those years, I cannot envision a Clinton presidency as healthy. Barack Obama is right in characterizing it as more of the same. Mrs. Clinton is razor-sharp, dedicated, and she would make an excellent president. But she would perpetuate the rule of our country by two families into a third decade. 2008 is an opportunity to start fresh. A Clinton-McCain race would only offer a choice between which side of the argument you want to continue. Barack Obama represents new energy, and at 46, would be a pretty sharp contrast to McCain at 72.

JET Middle School Murakami


Sick with a cold.  The fault of munchkins.  Fluids.  Doctor’s waiting room.  Indifferent supervisor.  Motherly, doting, caring supervisor.  Pills.  Throat throes.  Voyager episodes.  Hoarse Skype calls.  Lack of antibodies.  Lack of active verbs.



There are a lot of words to describe the past 38 days. School mishaps, successful performances as a very late rabbit, ski trips, contracting decisions, snowstorms. For the sake of brevity, I will focus, briefly, on the important.

I went to Vladivostok last weekend. I flew Vladivostok Air from Toyama on a Jakovlev JAK-40 jet. I had a great weekend. I saw Katya, met her family, became ludicrously drunk with vodka, and experienced a tiny bit of Russia. I’ll probably go back this summer to help dig potatoes.