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Browsing Posts published in March, 2006


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I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, but I got really….busy (OK fine, just lazy). Anyway, IUSTV has been working on finding the successors to the exec board for the past few weeks. It’s actually been a bit longer than that, but we just recently got to the application/interview/selection stage. It’s been an interesting part of the whole year. We did my successor first, this was the week before break. Just Thursday and Friday we did for the other 3 open positions. Interviewing people for something like this is really weird. Giving an interview is a lot different than actually being interviewed. I feel like this whole process has been pretty formal, and rightfully so; I can’t just hand off IUSTV to anybody. It has to be a very detailed, complicated process. After deciding on my replacement first, of course I had to let the candidates know the results. I’m a very straight to the point guy, especially with these IUSTV business situations. Nothing usually bothers me, and I don’t really have any problems doing any of this. However, actually figuring out how to tell someone they’ve been not selected or selected for something that you can tell really means a lot to them is harder than I would have thought. It didn’t seem like this last year, when we were picking new execs. I think maybe I realized that I won’t be around next year at all, and this really is a huge decision. Either way, I suppose I actually felt nervous having to make these announcements. It’s hard to describe the feeling.

Making up questions and my now world-famous “what would you do” scenarios is also harder than I would have thought. I tried to think of the situations that I’ve been in over the past three years that have really been a pain in the ass, and relate that to a quick question. I need to see how these possible execs will react, how they think, and what their style is. Some of them sound really stupid, but I didn’t write a single scenario that didn’t have at least 2 or 3 key points that the applicants needed to grasp. Some interviewees did a really good job, and gave good answers. Some didn’t.

It’s also very difficult to interview people for these positions, since the whole situation is very different from what any of us are used to. Nearly every single person who we interviewed, I’ve known for at least most of this year, and having a panel of 5 or more interviewers (myself included) shooting questions to applicants one at a time in a huge fancy board room in the Union is quite formal when compared to just hanging around the office getting TV made. Very intimidating, I’m sure that’s what a lot of the interviewees thought. We were in suits, the room was huge and fancy, and a lot was on the line. It would have been a lot easier if we were interviewing people we had never met before, because at least it wouldn’t seem so odd to be in such a formal situation. Someone you know very well as a friend/co-worker can automatically freak out when put into this situation. It’s even intimidating for the interviewers, and we’re the ones who are supposed to be in charge.

By tomorrow sometime, we will decide and announce the other 3 execs, and thus we will have a complete board for next year. Training has already sort of started for my apprentice/successor, but I think the real learning and training will start once the entire board is there. They will be working as a team. We have to pass on everything we know, because there’s not going to be as much of a chance next year for us to help or give advice. I might not even be in the country. This post is pretty irrelevant to everyone (except the 10 people or so who have been involved in this with me), but it’s pretty major to me nonetheless. This is the first step in sending IUSTV down a path of awesomeness for the next few years. I really think that this year has been a huge transitional year; next year will finally be a time to get growing and expanding without having to worry about getting basic things (like a working office or studio) in place. The “next generation” has everything in place for them, they just have to run with it. I’m a little jealous. Possibly more important than all the work I’ve done this year (including getting our new office figured out, and getting our broadcast off-campus on CATS, which starts Friday March 31), is getting these new execs trained. It really is one of my final contributions to the organization.

Super Mullet


To make up for the length of my last post, here is a picture from an expedition tonight to Wal-Mart. Here you see Nick with a wild specimen of the WORST MULLET IN HISTORY. Why would anyone, redneck or not, ever even consider doing this to their child?

Mullets this bad = child abuse

AEON Interview


Time to summarize the AEON interview experience. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if someone (aside from friends/people who usually read this) finds this sometime in the future via Google or some search engine, in hopes of preparing or learning more for their own upcoming AEON interview. I actually did this myself before my interview, stumbling upon this blog, which gave me some pretty good insight into what to expect at the interview. So here you go, future AEON interviewee: you also get a look at what to expect. Everyone else: this is a really long post, so don’t feel like you have to read it (of course, every other post, you are REQUIRED to read 4 times over in its entirety).

I actually applied online back in October or November for AEON, just knowing that it was one of the big English school in Japan. Within a week (it might have actually been even sooner than that), I got a call from their Chicago office asking if I’d like to come up for an interview. Knowing that I wouldn’t be graduating until May, I postponed it. They called me back again in January, and I finally scheduled an interview for March 16. I drove up to Chicago the night before, and checked into a hotel. I had most of my application materials they requested printed and ready to go, with the exception of my demo lesson plan: you’re supposed to have a 15 minute lesson plan written up, with the understanding that you’ll actually demonstrate 5 minutes of it. Now, until I actually did some research (by reading other peoples blogs), I had assumed this would have been something fairly basic. I read, however, that some people did things much more elaborate, and felt that I should do the same. I mean, if more people were doing things like that, I should probably do the same to “stay competitive.” After putting it off until the morning of, I wrote out a 3 page lesson plan on “What is there to do in Tokyo,” complete with vocab words, a handout diagram, and 3 conversational phrase structures for the students to practice. It actually looked pretty good I think.

I arrive at the interview place about 15 or 20 minutes before the 1PM interview time. Actually, I realized later that the time was supposed to be 1:30; good thing my mistake got me there early rather than later. They were located on the 21st floor of this huge building in downtown Chicago, sharing a large office suite space with a law firm or something. Since I was there so freaking early, I was sitting in the waiting area for almost an hour. Great. Of course I was the first one there. The second person to arrive was a guy wearing khakhis and a tie; let’s call him Muttonchops. I found out later that this guy with the huge sideburns was from Oklahoma and he worked in a Japanese restaurant. That seemed to be his main motivation for applying. Third person to come was a tall guy who looked really nervous, wearing a suit and a big bookbag, and he had a really skinny neck. Let’s call him Neck. Last to arrive was a girl who seemed to be escorted to the office by her dad (or a really old boyfriend maybe?); we’ll call her The Chick. We now have our cast of characters set up so I can keep telling my story. And yes, it was just 4 of us interviewing; I really thought there would have been more.

The interviewers/presenters from AEON were 3: a Japanese lady and two American guys. We entered the conference room and they start off by talking about the program, the company, and all that stuff. We then watched some videos, showing the “making of” and then the actual finished products for 2 of the AEON commercials airing on Japanese TV. One is starring Ai Kato, the other was a famous Japanese dude who I’ve seen on posters and stuff (including the AEON ones) in trains, and maybe TV also. These were kind of cool and interesting to watch. Huge sets, camera set ups, tons of extras, and even a crane and tracks were all used for these commercials. After that video, we got to watch another longer video about a Day in the Life of an AEON teacher. It was mainly focused on this freaky looking old white lady, who taught at the AEON branch school right near MotoYawata Station (本八幡), where I actually have been several times (it was only about 3 stops away from Nishi). Freaky, obviously staged video, but it was interesting to watch anyway. After that video, Neck stands up and goes to talk to one of the AEON guys outside the room. Since the conference room wall was big and all glass, it was only good for blocking the sound. After they talked for a few seconds, Neck comes back in to grab his bag and he leaves. I guess it was too much for him; I have no idea. Maybe he didn’t like to idea of living in a small Japanese apartment (the one in the video was almost exactly like mine over the summer).

So all that’s left now is me, The Chick, and Muttonchops. The recruiters talked some more, then we had a break. I got to talk to the other 2 candidates a little bit during that time, which was good because we needed a little more familiarity for the next part of the session: the demo lessons. We each had to stand up and introduce ourselves, give some info on why we applied, and then give our 5 minutes of fame. Actually I don’t think any of us actually used up all 5 minutes, but that’s cool. The Chick apparently is studying education for kids with speech impediments or something like that, so her lesson was geared towards little kids (complete with an old McDonald’s Farm book and cards). Muttonchops’ wasn’t bad, but it seemed very short and basic. My lesson wasn’t bad, but since the other 2 interviewees weren’t actually Japanese and thus didn’t know anything about Tokyo, it wasn’t as smooth as I had written out. Either way, it went well. After that, we talked again about AEON, and had to fill out a form. One part was a survey/short answer thing about AEON and living in Japan, including “what if” ones like “what would you do to help your school manager attract more students.” The other side of the paper was 5 English grammar questions (circle the part of each sentence that is incorrect), which was harder than you would think. I haven’t taken a class on English grammar since maybe sophomore year of high school, and actually had to think hard about 1 or 2 of the questions. After that was taken care of, we gave them our papers and waited for about 10 or 15 minutes (watching the end of the Tennessee game).

After waiting what seemed like a really long time, the AEON people came back to greet us goodbye for the day and to tell us whether or not we got a second interview. Rather than just telling us straight up, they gave each one of us a sealed letter. Secret Agent style, they told us not to open them until we were alone and outside of the building. A very interesting way of doing it, I’d say. As I headed out to the elevators with the other 2, I was wondering if they would open up their letters once we were out of sight of the AEON staff. I was definitely ready to open mine, and curious about how we all did. Muttonchops made a joke about doing it, but it seemed like The Chick was really apprehensive about it. We didn’t open them on the elevator, but I opened mine up in the lobby near the train entrance. It was really short, but I did get an interview for the next day at 2PM. Awesome.

Second day: I met up with Bryan for lunch (Giordanno’s Pizza), which was really awesome, then I headed back to the AEON building. I was wearing the same suit, a different colored shirt; I hope they didn’t care. This time, it was a personal interview (just me), and it ended up being only one of the AEON guys interviewing me (Rob). When he came to pick me up from the waiting area, we went back to a small room. There was a whiteboard and 2 copies of a page from an English book. I was given 10 minutes to prepare a 10 minute lesson about verbs. It’s really hard to think about how to explain basic English grammar when you’ve just been using it like it’s nothing for the past 20 or so years. Thank god the lesson was something basic like this, rather than something more complicated like interrogatives or gerunds. I figured out a basic lesson, wrote stuff on both sides of the whiteboard, and got ready mentally for what I was going to say. After time was apparently up, Rob comes back roleplaying as a Japanese college student. He actually did a pretty good job getting the mannerisms and stuff down on what a Japanese student would sound like, so I was pretty impressed.

Lesson went pretty well, but Rob really did get me pretty good on some “real life situations,” like when the student didn’t understand the meaning of “seriously” or “annoying.” I was very impressed with that; I think they must have had that prepared from the get-go. Anyway, after that I ended up being interviewed (just 1-on-1, I have no idea what happened to the other 2 recruiters from the previous day) for over an hour. By the end, of course, my throat was dry and I started coughing from talking for so damn long. Stuff during the interview was a lot like any regular interview: talking about why I applied, stuff about my work at IUSTV, and a lot about my previous experiences in Japan. He asked right off the bat why I got involved with Japanese in the first place, which I never really have a good answer for (how DID I get started on this?). Anyway, things went very well I think. I told him I’m interviewing with Nova next month, and I have an offer from Sears. I’ll know from AEON sometime before April 7 via phone (if I get an offer) or via postal mail (if I get a rejection).

One of the nice things about AEON is that if/when they give you an offer for a job, it comes along with the exact school that you would be placed at. No risk of going to Japan blind and getting stuck in Podunktown, Nippon. I talked during the second interview a bit about my placement preference, and of course I strongly pushed for Tokyo or Chiba. Rob was trying to push for “greater Kanto area” but I really don’t know how happy I would be in some smaller part of Kanagawa or something. We’ll see. Who knows if I even get an offer. Well, that’s enough for now; I’ve written way too much. If anyone out there is interviewing with AEON and finds this little mini-guide to my experiences helpful, I’m glad. Please comment or something so I know you’re reading. Wow this is way too long; sorry about that.



I’m going to postpone writing anything about the AEON interview, Chicago pizza, traffic jams, or anything, because there is something much more important and relevant to discuss. Right now I am in pain. My stomach hurts, I feel like I can’t move, and there is a burn blister inside of my mouth. And I could not be any happier. You may recall (or have even been to) a nice little place in Japan called “Top Run Yakiniku Viking,” a sweet Korean BBQ all-you-can-eat restaurant that was like 1500 yen (around $15 bucks). The A-Team became regulars there, among the busloads of Chinese tourists. It truly was one of the hot spots to eat a ridiculous amount of food for a relatively cheap price. It was so good that in my farewell speech on the Spring/Summer IES Sayonara Party video, I made reference to it. Yes, it was that good, and you could eat a lot of meat.

Flash forward to modern day. That is, around 8PM this evening after Mitsuwa closed up here in Chicago (well, a suburb of it). Me and Bryan were shopping there at Mitsuwa, looking around, cursing the many prominent images of Pe Yonjun, making up stories to go along with the Boss Coffee cans, missing boots and skirts, and making fun of the cloudy liquor labeled “Jizake.” Afterwards, we decided to drive down the nearby Gulf Road because Bryan knew of some Japanese and Korean restaurants. About 70% of these Korean places actually ended up being either hair salons or acupuncturists, but we finally drove into one plaza and spotted a restaurant called Shin Jung. Boring sounding name, right? However, there was a large yet subtle sign on the window that immediately drew our attention, so much that it was able to actually get us to stop and enter the facilities. It was those golden words that we had dreamed of, but did not actually expect to see. Those simple words that can draw true carnivore to a screeching halt. That’s right… BBQ BUFFET. And only 19.95!?!?!?! Oh my god I didn’t know such treasures were available here in Chicago.

There was also more explanation inside, as illustrated here:

So me and Bryan walk in, and it’s like heaven. The tables all have the fancy grill in the middle (an actual Korean one, not just the grate that most places in Japan had), and of course the giant hood above the tables to suck up the exhaust from the delicious cooking meat. And the actual buffet? Yes, like Top Run, it had a buffet of raw meat (and side dishes like potato salad). However, since we ARE in America, the slices of meat were actually a lot bigger. Yes, it was amazing.
Heaven on Earth

I could probably write for hours about the intricacies of Yakiniku, and of Shin Jung. However, for time’s sake (and because I’m in a hotel for the night with horrible wireless), I will not elaborate completely on the adventures. Awesome story, however, was when Bryan and I were up at the buffet getting more raw meat to grill, we were looking over at the sushi area (only Cali rolls, but they were really good), and I think the owner of the restaurant, this old Korean lady, thought we were confused. She came up and asked if we needed anything, and then if this was our first time here. It was, so we told her that, and she completely shifted into Professor Bulgogi and gave us a tutorial on how to cook and eat the perfect Yakiniku (Korean BBQ/Bulgogi, in English and Korean, respectively). Apparently we’ve been doing it wrong (or just the Japanese way) by cooking each piece individually on the grill. The way the owner lady showed us was much more similar to Derek’s “mountain of meat” technique. You throw a huge pile of meat onto the grill, and keep moving it around with the metal tongs. This gives you piles of meat (kind of like on top of gyuudon) rather than just individual slices. Then you take your cooked BBQ meat, and place it inside a piece of lettuce. Inside this lettuce you can also put your own mix and match variety of chili paste, green onions, grilled garlic, and sesame oil. The owner lady actually showed us how to do this at our table, and even cooked out meat for us, wrapped a lettuce piece full of meat for each of us, and made sure that we got the gist of it. We officially got the doctorate tutorial on Bulgogi, and it was awesome. And delicious. The owner lady also got one of the other workers to come over with tongs and a pair of scissors to slice up some calbi ribs (prime rib), which ended up being some of the best meat in the whole place.

<img src="/blog/shinjung3.jpg" alt="
Bryan + Yakiniku = a happy man” align=”right”>Comparing Shin Jung to Top Run, I really would have to say that Shin Jung takes the cake. It was only $20 (not including tip or beers, which were ridiculously expensive), had bigger pieces, of meat, better grills, and the service was a lot better. I mean, COME ON! The owner of the lady came over and cooked at our table for us! The only area that Top Run wins in I think is desserts, since we searched high and low at Shin Jung and found no ice cream or waffle maker. Oh god I love waffles.

Brian and I each had 2 huge plates of food, not even including the ridiculous amounts of lettuce and assorted side dishes we also ate. I think this might prove a theorem: whenever 2 or more A-Team members get together, greatness will occur. Everyone, next time you’re in Chicago, go to Shin Jung and experience this for yourself. You will not be disappointed, unless you don’t eat meat, in which was what is wrong with you? This was awesome. I’ll bet it could convert some vegetarians even.

I’m going to check out Mitsuwa in the morning and head back to Indiana in the afternoon. Yay for another boring ride through Indiana countryside. I’ll write more tomorrow or in a few days about what else I did in Chicago. The AEON interview went well; I should find out within 3 weeks. I think I did really well, but of course I don’t like to count my chickens before they hatch and terrorize the village.



The drive from Bloomington to Chicago must be one of the most boring and least-scenic of roadways I have ever seen. Driving up to Indy is pretty much the same as usual, but once you pass Indy, there is absolutely nothing. NOTHING. Not really even anything interesting on the sides of the roads. No major towns until you get up to Gary/Chicago area. I passed Lafayette and Purdue I think, but saw nothing of note from the highway except for some salt mines. But, about 5 hours later (including a pitstop in Morocco), I made it to Chicago. I’m staying in a pretty nice hotel downtown, preparing for my interview with AEON tomorrow. AEON, for those wondering, is an English school in Japan. Sounds fancy; I think I have a decent chance at getting in. However, Bryan Reynolds also applied last year and didn’t get in, which leaves me worried. Maybe the A-Team is too super qualified for this kind of job. I’m considering playing down my experience, which is really tough since half of my resume is Japan or Japanese-related stuff. We’ll see. Also sometime between now and the interview tomorrow at 1PM, I have to make up a 15-minute lesson plan for the group interview. I guess I’ll just try to pull something out of the memories of my stint of teaching English at Takanawadai High School.

I’d never driven to Chicago before. I’ve been here quite a few times, but it was always either my parents driving, flying, or taking a bus. Anyway, the drive wasn’t too bad (except for the excruciatingly boring aspects); I do like the drive to St. Louis better. Also, before you get into Chicago proper, you pass through this industrial zone where every building spits smoke of varying levels of pollution (including neon blue!). Maybe that was Gary? Yes, that part of the world looked pretty bad from what I saw. The legends are true!

Toll roads. I get to the first toll gate, and was preparing for the worst. 15 cents. Sweet; I can deal with that. Then the next one: 50 cents. A big increase, but still, not too bad. Then a little bit more down the road and I hit the last of my toll gates of the night. This one, however, is a whopping $2.50. What. The. Heck. Chicago.???! They lure you into thinking “oh wow, these toll roads ain’t so bad.” But once you’re on the road and there’s already no way out, they slam you at the end with a huge price increase. 15 cents should be the maximum or something. The roads weren’t even THAT much better than a standard highway. Bah.

Up to now, spring break has been just working on IUSTV stuff everyday at the office, usually until about 8 or 9 at night. I’m kind of glad that I got to come up to Chicago for a few days, just to get away from everything. Sure, tomorrow afternoon after my interview I’ll probably come back to the hotel to work on IUSTV stuff (e-mail, scheduling stuff, etc), but it’s still like a vacation for me. I want to check out the Field Museum, Chinatown, and Mitsuwa. All of which I think I’ll be able to pull off, since I’m staying here until Saturday afternoon. If anyone else is around Chicago, call me and we can hang out. Otherwise I’ll just be museum-ing it up myself. God I’m such a dork. But they have an exhibit on evolution!

Driving for 5 hours by yourself with nothing to do but listen to CDs gives you a lot of time to think to yourself. I can’t really remember if there was anything important (there certainly wasn’t anything deep), but I do remember the revelation about sleep. Recently, I’ve been getting more sleep than I ever have since I was very very young (probably before I entered elementary school), save for weekends, breaks, etc. Nowadays, with my demanding College Senior class schedule, I sleep pretty much 8 hours every day. I wake up feeling fine, never need to nap, don’t feel tired, and life, in summary, is good. This is coming off a long stretch (middle school to junior year of college) where I would instead get about 5 or 6 hours of sleep, I would wake up tired all the time, fall asleep in class, take naps, etc. Getting 8 hours sleep is definitely a good thing. I actually think I’ve written about this before on the blog (well, probably just bragging about my awesome schedule), but I just wanted to throw it out there again.

Now, I’m watching Champloo on Adult Swim in my hotel room, thinking about what I should make my lesson plan about, and I have already planned out my morning schedule for tomorrow. I’m going to wake up around 9AM to get everything organized, printed, and to make sure I show up at the interview place ON TIME (yeah, we all know I have a bad habit about being late for everything). Once that’s over, time to explore downtown Chicago. SPRING BREAK 2K6!!!! WOOOOOOO!


1 comment

Ah, spring break has finally arrived. What am I doing, you ask? Traveling to some exotic locale? Going on an exciting vacation to a foreign land? Battling a giant crab monster with an electric guitar? No, none of the above. I’m in GhostTown Bloomington, doing the same thing I do pretty much all the time. It’s not that bad; at least I have a week off from classes (which means only 2 days off, since I don’t actually have class that often anyway). Nonetheless, I think this week “off” will give me time to relax, get caught up on stuff, and just be even lazier than usual (if that is even possible).

Sunday through Tuesday, I will likely be waking up very late, and then working at the office for a few hours a day. Me and AP are going to rebuild the VT3 machine, straighten out some studio stuff, and just do general maintainence. I also have some more footwork to do for this supposedly upcoming “Real to Reel” film competition, which seems like it might be a bigger pain in the butt than I had ever imagined. However, if we pull it off, it will be awesome. And no, Red Bull’s marketing strategy still doesn’t make sense to me. But oh well. Sometime around Wednesday to Friday, I’ll be going up to Chicago for an interview with AEON, one of the English schools in Japan. The more I think about it, working in Japan is more and more tempting. We’ll see how that goes. Nova interview is in Indy at the beginning of April as well.

If I have time, I also wanted to go back home to St. Louis for a day or two. Don’t know if I’ll actually have time to do that actually, but we’ll see. Other than that, I don’t have many other goals to accomplish over spring break. I’m almost already done with News Radio season 3 (yes, I actually purchased ANOTHER real DVD box set, I can’t believe it myself). Considering how much I watched the first News Radio box set though, I figured it would be worth it. This show is amazing, one of the funniest ever. And season 3 has the Rocket Fuel Malt Liquor episode, which was a very very pleasant surprise. Gazizza, my dilznoofuses. I also plan on finally finishing Kingdom Hearts II, playing a bunch of SNES puzzle games, and if I miraculously have even more video game time than I expected, I want to play FF8 or Super Mario RPG again. I also borrowed the first season of Lost from Kyle, which everyone keeps telling me I will love and get addicted to. We shall see.

I’ll be posting a few times over break, I’m sure. Maybe I’ll try to think like Nick and write a really deep entry about something. Likely it will just be boring crap from my daily routine like this one. Either way, you will all read it when you get back from Florida, California, or wherever else you bastards went for spring break.

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