ETA: this entry keeps getting search engine hits for the definition of maido ari, so I though I should expand on such. "Maido" means every time, and "ari" is short for arigato. So it means "thank you every time," something a super-casual shop-keeper might say, mostly in the Kansai area. Notably used by the swindler Kurosagi (in manga and TV drama, played by Yamashita Tomohisa) at the completion of each one of his gambits. 毎度あり！
Ten Ways You Know You Work at a Japanese Junior High:
1. You double-take when you see a boy and a girl actually speaking to each other.
2. You don't, however, look twice at a boy undoing his belt and letting his pants fall to his knees, or a girl with her skirt up around her head, because they invariably have a full sweatsuit on underneath.
3. When you're done drinking something from a carton or juice-box, you tear it open along the seam, flatten it out, peel out the plasticky inner layer, and put it in a stack to be tied together and put out to recycle.
4. You develop mad taking-off-and-putting-on-of-multiple-pairs-of-shoes skills.
5. You say, "Bye-bye!" more than you have since you were three.
6. It seems like a third of your body water content has become tea.
7. You eat everything that is set before you. EVERYTHING.
8. You realize that twelve-year-olds who have been writing the Roman alphabet for five weeks have better penmanship than you.
9. You never want to respond to "How are you?" with "I'm fine, thank you, and you?" Ever Again.
10. The more you teach your native language the less it makes sense even to you.
Normal friendly people also say "ohisashiburi desu ne" - actually the o-and the -desu make it polite, so sometimes you'll hear it abbreviated to "sashiburi!"
There's an awesome "novel" - well, written-word-piece - here about hikikomori. It's such a strangely Japanese thing - I'm sure it happens other places occasionally but I think the pressure of the school system here exacerbates it.
Very glad to hear Obama is doing well, and also about the California decision. I do follow the news on TV here and online, but I can only take so much, what with Burma and Sichuan.
I'd like everyone's input on something: for the English board in the hallway I'd like to put up some phrases that aren't necessarily for survival but are fun to know. The sort of thing they'll hear if they come to America but that definitely aren't in their textbook. Right now we have things like, "I can't take you anywhere", "Well, that does it", "this isn't my lucky day" etc. Those were compiled by my predecessor, so I'm looking for things more positive in tone (since part of my job description is teaching "moral awareness".) Things that are easy to say but don't have the same meaning as the literal definitions, things that teenagers would find amusing without being inappropriate for school. All suggestions welcome.