RichardRichard's Weblog Diary!

Doing is a strange life, from one night being put up in luxury hotels to the next sleeping on a park bench, from giving presentations to hundreds of people in Tokyo to visiting the smallest schools in Northern Japan, from working into the dawn hours in the freezing Genki House to songwriting by the beach in Thailand and even filming in Hollywood!

There was a lot going on last year so I decided to start my diary on the website. If you want to find out what's it's like behind the scenes or how & why I do what I do or even if you're just nosey or a bit bored, have a read! This is a bit of an experiment so please get in touch let me know what you think!

I'll update the diary as often as I can, so keep coming back!


For the most recent diary, please click here!

Jan - Jun 2004

June 30th 2004 - Wednesday - Go with the flow

Over the past few weeks I've been trying to remix the software section of CD3. So it was on/off as to whether I go with another run on the current version of the CD, or work flat out to get the remix done. And today I realised I'm not going to be able to make it before the current stocks run out! So I had another look at the current software and it is actually really good, and certainly has all the features teachers need! So once I'd made my mind up it was a phonecall to the factory and a huge, huge weight off my mind!! Doing both production and training work isn't the best lifestyle to lead!!

So I'll take a half day off, then put my full effort into all the workshops I've got coming up over the next month!

June 29th 2004 - Tuesday - An Average Day, only taught 600 kids

Today was a production day doing the new CD remix, but in the morning I just popped out to a school in Fukuoka to do a demonstration class for 600+ kids!!

They were actually really good and although it took the 6th graders a while to get it, they eventually got really genki by the final What's your name song!

Then in the afternoon and evening it was production work.

June 28th 2004 - Monday - Gotta keep going

Today I was soooo tired! But I have a load of production work to do and a very, very full schedule for the next 2 months!

June 27th 2004 - Sunday - Kids' Shows in Osaka

A long time ago the business model of Genki English was that in order to keep the Elementary School visits free, I'd also do private shows where the kids pay to attend. These did work well, but the amount of work for the people who organise the events is just way too much! So three weeks ago today's gig was looking well dodgy!

But the organisers and I all started putting a lot of extra effort in and things actually worked out OK. There was also the idea ( not mine by the way!) of doing a "mini genki" show for little kids and their parents. Now that idea didn't particularly grab me, but people wanted to try it so I had a go! And it worked, but you have to give up any semblance of trying to act like an adult and just go mad like a kid!!! I can't think of anyone who'd want my job, from Friday having tough negotiations with hard-nosed Osaka businessmen, to today jumping around like a madman in front of a hall of kindergarten kids and their Mums!!

But it worked, just by going over the top, a nice mix of Genki English songs and Kids English songs plus a couple of phonics songs and it was great. Actually at the beginning I was really surprised at how fast the kids were picking up the phonics songs, they were really good. Then I came to do the "g" song and they could sing it even before I'd taught the melody, so then it twigged that they must have the CD at home!!! But it was pretty cool as the CDs only been out 3 weeks! Parents aren't half into phonics, all the phonics CDs had sold out even before the show started, and the superpacks all went just after the show!

People were also asking how come I can jump so high, I think it comes from carrying around 15 kilos of baggage on my shoulders all week!

Then a 45 minutes Q&A session with the parents, and then a show for elementary school kids. It's always difficult in these private shows as the teachers often ask for "high level" stuff, but the problem is that the kids may have studied the lower level stuff, they can't actually use it straight away!! So that's why in the beginning I always do test stuff and then see how far they can go. Although actually it's the "dekiru, dekiru, dekiru" way of thinking that's the most important indicator of how well they can do. So anyway due to popular request I did What are you doing? ( very chilled out song) and the Harry Potter game, which the kids and teachers all loved even though the kids were determined to just run and save themselves rather than helping the other Harry Potters! Then "Where are you going?" ( always a big hit), a few other songs and even the phonics "l" song. So everyone seemed quite happy!!

So yesterday the teachers all seemed to get a lot out of it, the kids and parents today were all happy and then at the end the finances also worked out, so eventhough there was a huge amount of prep work to do, everything worked out OK. So thanks to the organisers for all your amazing hard work!! The trick now is to find a more sustainable way of doing this!

But for now I'm shattered and I'm off to sleep on the shinkansen back to Hakata.

June 26th 2004 - Saturday - Fantastic Full Day in Osaka

Today was just so good. It was up early, a meeting at 8:30 and then from 9:30 till 7:30 in the evening a full 8 and a half hours of Genki English! I wasn't sure how many teachers would come, but in the end there were 15 from all sorts of teaching backgrounds ( even shogakkou teachers and even three guys) and it was really, really cool. We did a load of games and songs ( the Harry Potter game was just fantastic!) and lots of other sessions on goal setting and stuff, which was great. I think most people were surprised at how deeply the educational aspects of GE are planned, but everyone had a great time and I myself thought it was just a fantastic day!! Check out this page for a run down of all the stuff we did!

So pretty long but well worth all the effort - thank you everyone!

June 25th 2004 - Friday - Off to Osaka

The only place in Japan my wireless internet doesn't work is the mountains of Hiroshima! And it took my computer over night just to download the 2 days worth of email ( mostly spam of course!). And this morning I had loads of deadlines to get things sorted, so didn't leave Hiroshima till lunchtime!!

I also put up a page about Craig Desorcy's "Super Teaching in Japan Handbook" - it's a great collection of all the hints, tips and advice that all the successful teachers here use. I'm so glad that someone actually took the time to put them in a book, it saves me having to write the same sort of info down in reply to all the emails I get!

Now I'm on the Shinkansen to Osaka where I have a few meetings today and then a full day workshop tomorrow! That will be so good, just being able to present everything, not just the very simple stuff!! I had a run through the materials on the train and the GE website is just so useful, even I'm impressed and I wrote it! Best of all most of the ideas don't need any preparation, just the picture cards and CDs. I'm also looking forward to trying lots of the Readers' Games for the first time, Cowboy and Harry Potter look really great!

June 24th 2004 - Thursday - Back in school - great!

Today was up very early then an hour's drive into the mountains of Hiroshima. In the morning after chatting to the teachers I got lots of computer work done so was in a good mood! Then in the afternoon was the kids show. Usually for elementary schools I just do a show but today as a special favour at the teachers request we changed things a bit, doing one song then a "Kids' Questions" time, another song and another set of questions. Usually kids wouldn't have the stamina or energy to do this for 90 minutes but this school was great!! They did great on the songs, got all the motivation stuff and asked loads of cool questions! It was also great that I could theme the songs to the questions they were wanting to ask - brilliant! It was really fun to teach!

Then a ten minute break and a teaching seminar. Usually in the teachers seminars I do a mixture of practice and theory, plus a bit of warming up. But straight after the show the teachers were certainly warmed up, had seen everything work in practise so it was just a case of going through the whys and why nots of how to teach English. And they were great. It was another great situation really, as they have 35 hours a year of English, but only ten of these with the ALT. So as usual my recommendation was to use the software and curriculum ( again it was great to see their eyes light up when they saw how easy it was!) to teach the English, then when the ALT does come the kids will be able to use the English they've learnt. I also went through the "Dos and Don'ts of teaching with an ALT" and as usual they didn't believe the "kanchou" problem actually happens!! But they were great, and hopefully I cleared a lot of things up for them and the kids, who are great already, will go on to be even better!!

So then I took the train back to Hiroshima and by 10PM I was just shattered!!

June 23rd 2004 - Wednesday - Far too busy and off to Hiroshima

I knew if I took one whole day to do work on CD3 then this morning all my other work would be too much! I have so many things to sort out! Arggh! Plus I haven't even done all the stuff for the weekend, hopefully everything will run cool but it's all the admin, sending stuff up there and sorting out things like travel that I just don't have time for!

So at 3 I rushed off to get the Shinkansen and just had time for a very large Starbucks - I'm going to need to caffeine to work through my backlog!

Eventually I arrived in Miyoshi to stay at the Headteacher's house ( actually the head teacher of tomorrow's school is the husband of the head teacher of the school in Hiroshima I went to in April!) had a nice tea and even got chance to play a $5,000 shakuhachi!!

June 22nd 2004 - Tuesday - CD3 Remix

I'm working on the remix of CD3 to bring the software up to the level of CD2 & 4. The only thing is that I'm under a ton of pressure because I don't think I'm going to be able to make it before the current stocks run out! With all the schools that have become interested in Genki English over the last couple of weeks there is the very real possibility that we may run out of CD3 before the new one is ready. Which is very tricky for me as I have lots of events & things coming up and of course I want people to use the CDs, but we have so few left!!!

June 21st 2004 - Monday Half Day with Typhoon

It's always bad weather on my day off! But that's not too bad as this morning I still had a ton of work to do. But then in the afternoon I just had to take some time off as I was so tired.

June 20th 2004 - Sunday - Mail etc.

With my schedule filling up so much I now get schools ringing me on a Sunday morning following up mails they sent on Friday! And this morning was just spent going through all my email replies, there was a lot!

Then after a quick half hour sleep ( I'm still not 100% genki, it could be the effects of Tokyo, or maybe the tortoise that someone ordered for dinner last night!!), I got a load more work done. I also tried to buy the new version of Macromedia's Flash but their website wouldn't let me! That's not very nice!

But anyway, it's now 11PM, I'm helping out teachers via Yahoo Messenger and pretty soon I'm going to have to get some more sleep!

June 19th 2004 - Saturday - School Distribution

Got into Kyushu at 6 this morning. Then I found out that this afternoon I not only have a meeting with a school distributor, I have to give a presentation to their sales staff!

Actually that went quite well, and they were glad to have something that's so fun to use, they were saying how most of the stuff they sell to schools is just so boring!
But it was interesting chatting about the Superpacks. It seems the biggest problem will be price, in that compared with other suppliers, the Superpacks are so cheap and there is so much for free on the website it's going to be difficult to get schools that don't know Genki English to take it seriously. This is interesting because until now I've been mostly thinking of the ALT frame of mind where they want just about everything for free. But materials sold for schools do cost a heck of a lot of money ( ALTs themselves cost 300,000 yen a month!!), so they have to explain how come GE is better than the other stuff even though it's a lot cheaper. But hey, that's a job for their sales people! In the future it may mean that everything in Japan will be paid for, and I'll make the free website stuff just available for non-developed countries. It seems strange, but if that leads to more schools in Japan teaching English in a fun way then it's gotta be done!

Then in the evening it was a working dinner with a load of stuff to sort out - my schedule is just crazy now! And eventually I got to sleep at midnight.

June 18th 2004 - Back to Ehime for a day!

Yeah I'm back in Ehime for a day! It's a bit silly, Ehime is still the place I officially live but it's the first time I've been here since March!!! It's great hearing the frogs in the paddy fields and the general "countrysideness" of everywhere!

And as I only had one day I was mega busy. The printers brought around the new proofs for the printed version of the card game. And they are looking a lot better, so hopefully in a couple of weeks those will be ready. I also got to check out the official company seals, which look well doody to say the least!

Then the rest of the day was spent transferring all the old multitrack tapes onto hard disk for remixing and editing later. GE generates so much data and if I lose any of it I'm in big trouble!! But things seemed to go well, so I picked up a fresh set of clothes and took the overnight ferry to Kyushu.

June 17th 2004 - Thursday - Yokohama and Atom English

After I had to pay to stay in the Keio plaza I was determined to enjoy it! And this morning was really nice hanging out in a posh hotel room ( usually I'm always too busy!). I did have a breakfast coupon for the really nice restaurant downstairs, but I still wasn't feeling too genki.

Then off to Yokohama to see the guys from Atom English. They have a great programme and I'm sure there are loads of ways to help them out. Cool!

Then off to the airport and for the first time since March I'm going back to Ehime!

June 16th 2004 - Wednesday - Tokyo Presentation - oh dear!!!

I figured last night it'd be quite safe to go out on the town with the CLAIR people, they're organising the conference after all, just stick in Shinjuku and get back around midnight. So that's what I did. But this morning, oh did I feel bad!!!!

I went down to do the first presentation and the room was packed. I was still feeling very, very ill. But just before I started, this guy came up to me and said "We used to go to the same school, and when I was in my first year, you saved me from some bullies. So I just wanted to say thanks". Wow. How you can you not do a good presentation when you get told something like that.

So as soon as I got the word, bang, it was "think genki - be genki" and I did it!! The crowd were really, really great and totally into things. And I was so glad that I made it!!

But then I realised I had to do it again! Oh no! I did make it to the end, but it wasn't my best ever presentation!

So after the presentation I checked into my room for another night and just slept for the rest of the day.

June 15th 2004 - Tuesday - Tokyo Day 2, meetings & kebabs!

I was wide awake this morning, so popped in to the JET conference to say hello and also check out the "Phonics" workshop, which like last week was pretty popular!

Then to have a meeting with the publisher of the Kids English series to work out this years plans and schedules. I also found it funny that the intro at the top of this page was written exactly 2 years ago, when in the space of 3 days I did indeed sleep on a park bench, get put up in a posh hotel and then flown off to Hollywood! How times have changed!

But back to today and I went out with the CLAIR people, had a good night, left at 12 o'clock and had even had a kebab on the way home! Wow, kebabs in Japan! Lovely!!!

June 14th 2004 - Monday - Tokyo Conference Day 1 + Pic Books

Up early and off to Tokyo today. I had a read of a great new "Super Teaching in Japan" ebook, I'll have to get a link to it from the site as it's great!

Then the JET conference Information Fair. The thing is that out of the 1,000 plus ALTs who come here, there's not that many who actually come to the fair. This is fine for me as most people already know Genki English ( there were even a few smiley faced High School JETs around today!), but the other companies were probably looking for a bigger turn out. But hopefully things should be cool for Wednesday. I also met up with Tonester from the discussion board, which was cool.

It is quite strange though that many people now seem to thing that Genki English is this massive great thing, whereas it's still just as it was 5 years ago, all done by me on one computer!! I even got asked if I lived in California, now that would be nice...

In the afternoon I met up with John Moore from RIC publications to have a chat about his great new picture books. And I also sorted out some new prices for the books on the website, check these out, and try showing them to your Japanese teachers or friends, they'll go mad as these are the books they grew up with as kids, but are now in English!!

Then a quick nap and in the evening I thought about joining everyone for a night out, but I'm well tired, have a ton of email to catch up on and have an early meeting in the morning, so I guess the partying can wait till tomorrow!!

June 13th 2004 Sunday - Yeah!

Plan today was to head out to a restaurant and spend a few hours preparing music stuff to record later. But unlike yesterday after just two coffees and 20 minutes everything just clicked and I got a great production going on my music computer! Fantastic! So it was quickly back home to get things recorded. Great!

So then a bit of preparation for Tokyo and then out to see "Day after Tomorrow" ( great film) at the pictures!

June 12th 2004 - Hard Rock

Tried to do some music work today. But recently I think I've been looking too much at hip hop production, which is fine for Junior High stuff, but not really for elementary school songs. So after a day of not getting much done, I went off to the Hard Rock cafe for some inspiration and had a great night out!

June 11th 2004 - It's in the details

It's amazing how changing just tiny little details on the website can make such a huge difference. Last week I updated the order form to accommodate the Phonics CD, and vwoom, internet sales dropped like a stone! I did some tests and figured there were too many products and it was confusing people. So this week I went back to the old order form and vwoom, sales are back to normal!! Wow, it's amazing just what difference little things can make! But it also makes me think "What could I do to make the same difference again to get more orders!!"

It also worked again today with the discussion board, I moved the position of the discussion board link in the menu, and hits on the board are up 200% - crazy!!

I didn't get much else done today as I was well tired and not very up for recording work ( I could do with a Starbucks nearer by!!), so I did my accounts for May and realised I'd spent a bit too much!! OK, that just means I have to work harder this month!!! Actually I'd like to work hard enough to be able to set up proper music studio. But then I'd never get time to use it!

June 10th 2004 - School Day

For some strange reason I was up early and working by 8 this morning! Very strange! But funnily enough at 8:30 I got a call to say that one of the cities I did a workshop for last year, and who had bought CD sets for all the schools, had recently "gappeid" ( several towns joining together) and wanted to order sets for all the new schools in the city! Cool! Can't ask for better news than that - not only is it a big order, but it means the schools are really finding them useful!

Then at lunchtime I went to get ready for today's school visit. Apparently the kouchou sensei was a bit scared about inviting a "real foreigner" to the school to insisted on someone from the education center also attending!! But it was cool and she was talking about how one of her teachers had seen my workshop last week and came straight into her office to invite me to present to all the teachers. She seemed very excited about it all, but then they seemed to think I was a student at uni here! All very strange!

But the seminar was cool. Actually it was probably a bit too easy, basically once I'd showed them how to use the website and then use the software to get around the fact they can't speak English they were very happy! It's all a case of taking the weight off the teachers shoulders and showing them how easy it is to get started!

Then afterwards they had a meeting about the ALT visit next week. I didn't actually know about this otherwise I would have done the "working with an ALT" workshop, but the education center are wanting them to come up with lesson plans on their own. For any ALTs that complain about what their JTEs do, it's so easy to see how it comes about, because they really have no idea and just clutch at anything they can see, and really want as much help as they can. From my presentation they got the hand of lesson planning for years 1-5, but as usual the 6th graders are the tricky ones! But the education center will actually send 2 ALTs out just to train the teachers in lesson planning, which is quite cool.

Then I had a meeting with a distributor about getting the CDs out to more places. He was well keen and it should make the CDs a lot easier to get hold of for everyone!

Then to Starbucks for a much needed Cappuccino and I did all my urgent emails. Then I was thinking "OK, time to start producing work", and then looked at my watch, 8 PM! I'd been on the go for 12 hours and still had stuff to do! But I was well tired, so watched a bit of Coronation Street and went to bed!

June 9th 2004 - Wednesday - All sorts

The delivery guy woke me up this morning with the printed masters of the card game. Ergghhh! They look absolutely horrible!! When I design stuff for the web the colours always look really cool, but when they get converted for a professional printing press they naturally have to be converted. But this time the colours were just horrible, no Japanese kid in a million years would find them fun to play with, they were way off!! So it was off back to printers. It looks like I may have to pay a small fortune to have the colours mastered separately, or the same price to buy the software and do it myself. Oh I wish things were simple!

Due to popular request I also redid the worksheets in the owners section so that all of them are now in perfect printable quality!

Spent the afternoon and evening doing the CD remix, I can't believe how much work goes into making the software for one CD! The problem I'm finding now is that as because each theme is different, there isn't really a pre-set pattern that I can just copy and replace. Every one of them has to be done differently by hand, which takes ages, and with the amount of content, the checking for mistakes is going to take forever! I'm sure there must be a better way of doing this, but no doubt it'll arrive just as I finish the project! But now I can see why I spent 2 years without a holiday and working through most nights to get the first 4 CDs out!!

June 8th 2004 - Tuesday - Not too genki

I wasn't too genki today so couldn't do too much creative stuff ( the genkiness always shows through!!). But I had a ton of work/admin stuff to do and lots and lots of phonecalls. I need a staff!!

June 7th 2004 - Monday - 10 hours to catch up!

It took me 10 hours today just to catch up on last week's email and running around after orders etc! And I've got a CD remix to do before the weekend! I could do with some help!

But it's 9 o'clock now so I'm having my dinner!

June 6th 2004 - Sunday - Rain, rain, rain!

Did some work this morning, just general sort of stuff then went out to Aso San for a game of golf!! And it was fantastic weather, absolutely brilliant! We ( my girlfriend and I ) went up to the top of the volcano, which was also great. But about ten minutes after we arrived, a massive huge rain cloud just swarmed across us. I have never actually been inside a rain cloud!!! Oh my goodness it was just chucking it down!!!!! We had to drive back down the volcano, unable to see hardly anything as it had suddenly become pitch black. And after an hour of trying to drive on the motorway, I gave up, the rain was just so heavy you couldn't see a thing! Made it seem like "The Day After Tomorrow!".

But things calmed down after a while, and back in Fukuoka it had hardly rained a drop!

June 5th 2004 Saturday - Day off

I needed it.

June 4th 2004 Friday - Kobe Day Three + my presentations!

Oh I felt well ill this morning! But actually when I look back all my best presentations have been when I've been in the same frame of mind as most of the participants! I also had to get up at 6 o'clock to prepare some PR sheets for a company in Fukuoka!

So actually by 9:15 I was quite looking forward to things! This year CLAIR gave me a carte blanche to do whatever so I did a mixture of games ( elementary and junior high ), teaching hints and tips and then the genki speech. And things went great! As it was optional there were non of the "we're too cool for this" type thing and everyone joined in. I was especially impressed with the High School JETs who joined in everything, even the stuff they couldn't use. At the beginning though there were a few people going "oh no, we have to move", but rather than say "move" I just did the same techniques I would with an ungenki class, and before you knew it everyone was smiling! Excellent stuff!

And if there are any High School JETs who were there, I'd love to help out making materials for your lessons as well, just let me know what you want. And if any of you would like a similar presentation for your mid-year, or even better at the orientation for the newbies in August, I'd love to help out, just get in touch!

Apart from the few weirdos out there, most JETs are just the most amazing people who everyday are doing amazing things, and anything I can do to help, just let me know!

June 3rd 2004 - Kobe Day Two!

Despite getting to sleep at 3 AM, I was quite genki this morning. I went to check out some of the seminars, which were quite good. The first was on kindergarten teaching, done by a qualified teacher who did some really cool stuff. Then I went to check the phonics one, that was so popular!! Again done by a teacher back home and the audience were coming up with some cool stuff. It's also funny to see my ideas being borrowed by other JETs!

In the afternoon I went to the Elementary School seminar. Every year they seem to be so different, always with teachers with very strong opinions! There really could be a whole conference just for elementary school! But this time there was a big emphasis on the goals and aims of JETs at elementary schools, which was good. Mind you the presenter was encouraging people to just say "No!" if Japanese teachers asked them to do lesson plans. This maybe the aim in the long term, but on the whole JETs are the ones who come up with the best plans, and the Japanese teachers really, really want the help. But certainly working with the town to prepare a several year length curriculum is something that's really helpful, and a lot more productive than just taking one lesson at a time.

In the past years one of the aims of me attending the conferences was to get the word out about the Genki English website. And I think I've succeeded, all three workshops recorded the site today, with one reprinting about half the materials in the handout and another having the web links page as "Sites other than Genki English"!!

So I guess Genki English has come of age, and now it's a case of listening to what else JETs need to make their most of their time here!

And now it's time for the AJET Charity Pub Crawl..... will I make my presentation at 9:15 tomorrow...

June 2nd 2004 - Kobe Day One!

It's Kobe Re-contracting conference again, a time to speak to a ton of people, do a couple of workshops and have a great time!

First up was the information fair. There weren't actually that many people this year, but personally it is so nice when people come up to me and say "I just want to say thanks". That makes all the hard work worthwhile!

June 1st 2004 - Tuesday - What a fantastic day

Today was one of those rare days when everything just seemed to go right. First up were a couple of meetings at Starbucks, great stuff. It's always nice talking to people who have big plans and intend to carry them out! Cool.

Then in the afternoon it was off to a school in Fukuoka to do a seminar. The great thing about this school was that unlike most of the places I visit where they either hand over the reigns to the ALT or are "thinking about" introducing English, here the Japanese teachers already have to teach it once a month!! Needless to say they are finding it difficult, so they called me in to help.

As usual the confidence activities were the key, but they did great at the first assignment so they really got a boost. Then I went through how to use the Pronunciation Guides and Animated Mini-Lessons on CD2 and CD4 - their faces looked like all their prayers had been answered!! With teachers who actually do have to teach every week, they are over the moon when they see that all they have to do is to press a button to hear the words, and then another to hear me teach the lesson to the kids. Even the older, ungenki teachers were really happy! And for me that was great. Obviously the songs are great, but it's the software that makes everything possible for the Japanese teachers. I guess I just have to make that a little more obvious!!

The brief I got from the Kouchou sensei ( a female kouchou sensei - makes sense as the teachers were so good!), was that she wanted ALL the teachers to feel they could teach English, and I think I did that.

Today was also the launch day of the Phonics CD and I've already got people asking when the next one will be out!!! Wow! But I think the answer will be "not for quite a while yet!!"

So after a good day's work it was back to getting ready for Kobe tomorrow!

May 31st - Monday - day off and it rained!

Typical I guess. So I slept most of the day. In the evening I sorted out the master of the Genki English Card Game, it looks like we might be able to make it into a printed product, which should hopefully save a lot of people a lot of time!

May 30th Sunday - Genki Day and the Phonics CD has arrived!!!!

I wonder how much email other people get? I seem to have several lots for each of my different hats, both running the business, and doing consulting, plus several thousand spams!

Anyway I got up this morning and wasn't feeling at all genki!! It was supposed to be a recording day today, so I took myself out for a big lunch and over lots of coffee replied to all my email ( so I had a clear conscience) and got all psyched up to start recording. Then my girlfriend rang to say she's finished work early and we should go out! But she fell asleep!

So I couldn't do any recording, but as it happens I got a call to say that the Phonics CDs have just arrived in Ehime! Yeah!!!!! So whilst Mrs Abe is hard at work sending off all the pre-orders ( there is still one day left if you want free post and packing!!), I spent the evening getting the site all ready for full on phonics orders ( including international orders) and sent out all the confirmation emails. Cool!

And tomorrow I'll take my girlfriend out!

May 29th Saturday - I'm a little bit behind...

After this week's presentation at the Education Center, I've had quite a few schools asking me to go and do workshops for all their staff. That's really cool, but it also means June is now a very busy month! Plus I have tons of production work, as well as normal business work to do! So I'm a little bit behind!

But I got most stuff done so popped out in the evening for dinner and wine at a friends house.

May 28th Friday - New printer & Legal MP3s

To print the picture cards we have a load of printers in Ehime, but I don't actually have one with me in Fukuoka. So instead of paying a fortune to Kinkos every week I got a printer. It took ages to choose though, staff training in shops needs a bit of improving!

Legal MP3 downloads are also becoming more accessible in Japan, now you can just pop along to your nearest convenience store and download your favourite songs onto your phone or MP3 player. The good thing for Genki English viewers is the pricing, the going rate is 300 yen per song. Now that might mean that having the Genki English songs as paid for downloads might be a possibility in the future. I'd have to check out the technical and security stuff, but it also gets round the problem of people wanting to just buy the songs without the "Be Genki" software. Mind you I downloaded a 300 yen song onto my phone and it wouldn't play! Oh well, the idea is still full of potential!

May 27th 2004 - Thursday - Fukuoka Education Center

Along with a lot of help from the ALT, it took four years to set up this gig - a three hour presentation to over one hundred teachers from just about all the Elementary Schools in Fukuoka city!! They were very keen and asked great questions and it's always nice to have three hours because I don't have to rush anything. It did take them a while to get the "dekiru, dekiru, dekiru" point, but once they heard the "International Understanding" speech they were all on board. Great! And afterwards I got invited to a load of schools to do follow up presentations!

So thanks to everyone at the Education Center for sorting things out, it was great!

So I came home very tired, but very happy and watched Coronation Street for an hour or so!

May 26th 2004 - Fukuoka Entrepreneurs

Now today was a cool today! I attended a "power lunch" organised by the Foreign Entrepreneur Promotion Committee. It was really great to mix with such positive people. Entrepreneurs are always so full of energy and motivation, basically because if they're not, they don't eat! It's amazing all the things that foreign businesses are doing in Fukuoka, there are all sorts of fantastic projects! And all that enthusiasm is certainly infectious! Great!! So I met a load of great people, had a great time and got lots of free champagne! Can't be bad!

May 25th 2004 - Tuesday - Picture cards into the Owners Club

Today I moved the picture cards into the owners club area of the site. The reason being greedy teachers who keep asking for more free stuff, but refuse to support the site by buying anything! I originally put the stuff free on the site so that teachers in countries who can't afford materials have access to them. This has worked very well and I will support this in the future ( please get in touch!). The problem is teachers in places like Japan who make money (i.e. their wage) by using the materials on the site, but still expect to get everything without paying. For example sometimes schools say "oh, we have no money", to which I pull up a picture of school in Thailand and say "Look, this school has no glass in the windows, they have no money and will get the stuff for free!", I then point out the fully equipped computer room and video projectors etc. that all Japanese schools have!

I wish I could get all the tools that I need for my job for free ( the going rate is about $1,000 for software licenses these days!).

But luckily enough there many, many good and honest teachers who have supported Genki English in the past, and putting the picture cards in the owners club will hopefully give your CDs more value and let me add more cool new stuff to the owners club in the future! It's all give and take, and helping each other out!

May 24th 2004 - Monday - Big monitor, Half a gig keitai

Today was a shopping day! First up was a new memory card for my phone. It is just crazy that you can now get half a gig storage on a phone!! And as the card was a lot cheaper than an ipod, it's great for listening to music - cool!

Then the next step was to buy a monitor. All my work is done on a tiny laptop PC, which is fine for most things, but these days I have a lot more print work to do and it really does my eyes in staring at a tiny screen all day! So I bought a very nice Samsung monitor - along with the memory card, a rare treat to myself!

The only thing is it doesn't work!!

May 23rd 2004 - Sunday - recording

I did a load of recording today, then when I came to mix it it just didn't sound right... hmmm... then I twigged that I'd recorded them on the wrong settings! Oh well, never mind.

May 22nd 2004 - Saturday - Down by the beach...

I needed a day off today!! And it is just gorgeous weather, so went down to the beach in momochi. That's just fantastic, I wish it could be like this all year round!

Then out in the evening to watch "Troy" which was pretty good.

May 21st 2004 - Friday - discussion boards & keikaiwa

I'm in two minds about discussion boards. You have things like the where every single post is just somebody complaining about something!! It's always been the case with the net that people who have time to complain do, whereas most people who are getting on with things don't have time to post so much. On the GE board luckily things seem to be different with a good bunch of people coming up with ideas and discussing lots of stuff. Recently there have been quite a few people using the site to vent, which is fair enough, and the people who do vent off are also usually courteous enough to write balanced comments. But it seems the negativity just breeds more negativity from the people who aren't so courteous! I had to delete a load of posts today ( not something I like to do), and even the teachers on the Japanese board were coming out with profanities ( glad they didn't write them on the English board!).

Where's the positive outlooks? It's sunshining outside for goodness sake!!!

The funny thing is that whatever board you read, if it's people living in a different country the complaints always tend to come up as "them and us". For example, take any of the boards for teachers in say China, and simple substitute the word "China" for "France", "Korea", "America" or "Japan" and they're all interchangeable!

Anyway, back to making a difference, I updated the site with some new features. I did that as I saw an article on the ELTnews the other day about how lots of Japanese people were wanting to learn English on their mobile phone. Then did some music work, playing drums really loud always works!

May 20th 2004 - Thursday - Music stuff

Actually I got quite a lot done yesterday. After going through the computer stuff I started doing some music stuff and got some pretty funky stuff going! And I pretty much continued that today. There were lots of phonics orders today, which was cool.

May 19th 2004 - Boring Work

Got the Japanese newsletter sent off this morning and then started editing work on a whole new series of files. On each Genki English CDs there are hundreds of voice files, which all have to be edited, trimmed, chopped and labelled by hand. It's mind numbing work, but someone has to do it!

May 18th 2004 - Tuesday - Mastering

I produce all the the CDs here, but for the final level checks, EQ, compression etc. I send them off to a professional mastering house. This saves me a lot of stress! And today I got the final master to check before the factory starts producing the Phonics CD. It's just like a final layer of polish has been put over the CD, and it sounds so nice!! This is a fantastic work!!

Then the afternoon was spent catching up on my emails and writing this month's newsletters.

May 17th 2004 - Monday - Phonics Orders + FREE P&P!

Spent the morning updating the website to be able to take pre-orders of the Genki Phonics CD. If you already have the other CDs and pre-order the new one, you'll get post and packing for free! Then in the afternoon it was my weekly day off, so went down to eat some Unagi by the sea!

May 16th 2004 - Sunday - Caught up with Joel!

Today was quite cool as I caught up with my very good friend and long time Genki English contributor, Joel Bacha. Joel and I actually did the first Genki English shows together, and he's also written the brilliant "Teachers & Kids" book. It was cool to catch up on stuff, and his plans next week to go to Bolivia with a development programme for "Save the Children". Can't be bad!

So after a long chat about all sorts of stuff it was time for me to fly back to Fukuoka.

May 15 th Saturday - Nellies Bookstore

Had a great presentation at Nellies Bookstore today. The teachers were cool, a good mix of newbies and fans, and everyone was very genki. I introduced a new section about goals, and talked about the winner of the UK's Japanese Speech contest - a kid who had been learning Japanese for one year and 7 months and won with a speech comparing Noh with Shakespeare's theatre!!! Set your goals high!

The Phonics CD went down brilliantly. The whole genkiness of the songs just knocks the socks of any other phonics materials! This could be good!

May 14th - Tokyo, Lots of meetings and beer

Flew up to Tokyo this morning, the first time this year. One new thing was that the trains were running late! This never used to happen in Japan, but now with all the terrorist warnings it's making things seem more like back home. So my first meeting was a bit late but a good chat about future Genki English products and people asking me to look at learning materials for adults - could be good! It's was also great to get a free lunch!

Then I went to Sophia university to chat with Yoshida Sensei about Elementary School English. He's one of the big names in the field, and although we had met very briefly before, it was the first time I had to chat with him. That was really good, especially how the word amongst the "powers that be" is not as much concerned with the idea of elementary school English ( e.g. a few years back people were dead against the whole thing!), now it's more practical problems of how to teach, what to teach and how to improve the Junior High system later. Which is all pretty good news as the practical aspects can be pretty much solved with Genki English!

Then another meeting with one of the bookstore people. That was great, getting feedback on lots of stuff. We also ordered a few too many beers, but that was cool as we got talking about loads of things, like music producing and motivation stuff. Motivation things are something I really want to move in to, and the music production side of things could fit in very well with making materials for the adult market. The cool thing was that this guy was talking about how he'd been at recording sessions at Abbey Road and stuff, all from his life before the bookstores!

May11th - 13th - Workbooks, DVD Player, videos etc.

I did another of the workbooks ( this time volume III ) and spent quite a bit messing around with new ideas for the new songs and stuff. This is the fun bit, just messing around with music ideas, getting together a set of funky things that work together! One strange thing is that when I finished the Phonics CD last week, I tidied up the room I'd been working in. But when I came to record the quizzes for the Workbook, the room is far too echoey!! I guess tidying up is not the way to go.

I also bought a DVD player so I could copy the Genki English DVD onto VHS to demo in the bookstores. Isn't DVD so cool!! Just the whole remote control navigating thing is fantastic, it's like having a massive high quality internet at your fingertips!

May 10th Monday - Fukuoka Education Centre, Katakana Quizzes + Korg

One disadvantage of travelling around all the time is that I only get to see my snail mail once or twice a year. Today I got a load and one of them was for the big workshop I'm doing for Fukuoka Prefectural Education Centre (with over 100 teachers!). They wanted my seal on some documents and also an outline of the workshop, and I looked at the date..... today!! Argh!

But it was cool as I rang them up and popped it in myself. It was also good to have a chat with the people there, it seems that Fukuoka is a pretty cool place to be!

Then the rest of the day was spent doing all sorts of stuff, including putting Katakana Quizzes on the site. If you know anyone who wants to learn to read katakana, these quizzes will make it so easy by just playing around on the computer!! Plus they'll hopefully show native English speaking teachers how effective the phonics quizzes on the site can be! Enjoy!

Oh, and it was a bad idea working in Starbucks today. Right next door there is a music store and they had the brand new Korg Electribe sampler, which sounded so cool I bought it! Mind you I wish I could afford a Korg Triton, now that would be even cooler!

May 9th Sunday - Phonics Worksheets

The new Phonics CD has audio games for each of the ten phonemes on there, and for each one there needs to be a worksheet. The three that have been on the site have proven really popular, so I did the other seven today. I also figured it'd be useful to have A4 sheets with just the letter on. There are plenty of these about on the net, but they all seem a bit boring or a bit small, so something Genki had to be done! I intended doing just the 10 for the CD, but figured I might as well do the whole alphabet! Choosing the fonts was a real nightmare, as there are so many educational standards out there and it's impossible to meet them all. So what I did was to choose a standard, but funky and fun font and really make it bright and colourful for the kids! And as I've done them in flash they look great! Check them out on the Phonics Worksheet page! Cool, and another day finished at 3 AM!

May 8th 2004 - Saturday - The day I hate

This is the day I really, really dislike!!! It's the day of sending off the Phonics CD master to the factory. Which means that everything has to be 100% totally and utterly perfect, any mistakes here and it will cost a fortune to fix. So everything has to be minutely checked, and checked and checked again and it is the most tiring work you could imagine! That's the good thing with the website, I can get an idea done and out there straight away, without having to spend the same amount of time again checking to see if it's OK, on the site if there's a mistake someone will tell me and I can easily change it! But at 8PM I posted off the phonics CD master, and that was a great weight off my shoulders!

May 7th 2004 - Friday - Speading Up the Japanese + New Layout

After seeing the difference the new coding on the site made to the English version, I had to update the Japanese version as well. That took all day, in fact till 3 in the morning!! But the pages are miles faster, easier to print out and hopefully easier to maintain. The last major coding on the site lasted 4 years, so I hope this one lasts as long!!

May 6th 2004 - Thursday - back to work

It was back to work full time today, and it's finally time to send off the Genki Phonics CD. So a lot of the time was spent on the phone organising things. Then in the evening I cracked on with updated the rest of the site to the new, faster format!

Golden Week 2004

My girlfriend had a week off, so in the mornings I'd do a bit of work, then in the afternoons we'd pop out for a drive round Kyushu. It is a cool place to be, with lots of great to stuff to see and do, plus being well away from Tokyo it wasn't too bad crowds wise, even in the middle of Golden Week holidays.

Thursday 29th April - Holiday ?

It's the beginning of the so-called "Golden Week" holidays in Japan, one of only 3 times in the year that Japanese people actually take a day off, and go and spend it in a traffic jam. I was planning on taking the day off as well, but I had a listen to the phonics CD and realised that the "n" song I recorded on Tuesday sounds horrible!! It needs redoing. So I wasn't too happy. But never mind. So I went out fishing to put me in a better mood.

Wednesday 28th April - putting the website on steroids, and shell fish

For a while now I've noticed that the website keeps getting slower! It's basically because of the way the site was designed, for machines of 3 years ago. So I have been planning to update the structure, but with over 500 pages of content it's a big, big job. But there is also a more serious problem with some newer browsers, where the menu takes up the top half of the screen and leaves all the content at the bottom. This is something I couldn't leave, so started on the mammoth task of recoding all the pages. So that took all day just to do half the site! But hopefully it will mean things are a lot faster in future!

Then at 6 o'clock I got a call from one of my publishers in Tokyo, who had popped down to Fukuoka for the day. That was cool because there are tons of new ideas I wanted to chat about. So it was out for the dinner at the fantastic live seafood place I went to last year. It's so much fun having to keep your dinner from running off the table!

Tuesday 27th April - Recording "J" and "N"

Recorded the "j" and "n" songs for the phonics CD.

Monday 26th - April - Beppu Aquarium

Monday's my day off, so today went off to Beppu. There are some fantastic things there, like red hot spring pools and mud geysers - pretty cool stuff! Then off to the new Aquarium in Oita, there were some pretty funky things there as well, including a "Wani Kame", which looks for all the world like a meter long dinosaur! Mind you to say this place was supposed to be educational, the English on the signs and stuff was just terrible, and more often than not just wrong!

But it is true, Japanese people do wonder round aquariums saying "Oh, I bet that tastes lovely!!".

Then back home in the pouring rain!

Sunday 25th April - Back in Fukuoka

Being on the road is a completely different feeling to working all the time in one place, very strange!

Today I had lunch with one of the top Elementary School English teachers in Kyushu, which was great just to have a normal chat, and to also chat about all the developments and things that are going on at the moment.

Then it was back to work on the Phonics CDs. After the response yesterday, I'm really looking forward to getting the CD released!

Saturday 24th April - Nellie's Bookstore in Osaka - mad for phonics

Usually the bookstore gigs are all about getting up early, lots of running around and fretting about time slots. Today I walked into the Osaka Nellies' office at 11 o'clock and they were like "Hello, yeah we've got loads of time" and were totally relaxed! Which was just as well because everything went fine. Oxford University Press had a presentation first, which was pretty good, mind you their kids videos cost 10,000 yen each!! The GE DVD at 4,000 is well cheap in comparison!

My presentation was cool. There were lots of kids there, which I figured would be really difficult as usually that means I can't do any explanations. But as it turned out they already knew the songs and were great, listening when I talked to the teachers, then singing very loudly and saying "Tanoshii!!!" at all the right points! (Always good for impressing other teachers of how good the songs are!)

The teachers also went mad over the new phonics songs. "Want some stuff to get your kids good at speaking?" , hmmm maybe, "Want some songs for learning letters?" OH, YES PLEASE!!! Very strange the priorities some teachers have! But they really did into the songs, even better than the study groups last year. Could be a big hit!

Then a quick meeting about the Genki English show and seminars in Osaka in June, I'll put lots of details on the website to make this into a massive event!

Then on the shinkansen back to Fukuoka.

Friday 23rd April - Off to Osaka

Up early and on the bus and shinkansen to Osaka. Now I know why I didn't get any new materials done last year, travelling takes a lot of time!!

I popped into Nellies and everything seems cool for tomorrow. Then I had the crazy idea to sit in Starbucks for 4 hours and write the other 3 workbooks. I got tired after an hour and gave up! After all anything I write when I'm tired needs to be redone, so I watched a bit of TV and went to bed.

Thursday 22nd April - Genki Show in Hiroshima

Getting up at 6 and having a shower in a Japanese house brought back all the memories of all the freezing cold houses I've homestayed in in the past! Luckily these days it's quite warm!

Went off to the school and checked out the sound system and everything was cool. I was going to sit down and do some computer work, but the Kouchou sensei insisted I go and check out the art lesson. That was OK though cause I got to have a chat with the kids. ( Remember that's how I make the GE curriculum, by listening to what the kids like to ask me!). Then it was break time, and it was great to hear the first graders being able to actually speak English, tying their best to explain the rules of dodgeball!

Then the show. I haven't actually done a kids show since November, and I guess it might have showed a little! The kids started a little late, so I had to chop some stuff, but I think I should have kept the "What's your name?" song, as the whole making pairs thing just looks good for teachers who haven't seen GE before! The kids were good, nicely balanced by the fantastic kindergarten kids (who have English once a week) and the quiet 6th graders (who have English once a blue moon).

Then a couple of hours off and I was shattered!!! I think I've become addicted to caffeine in these last few weeks, I was just so tired! And my arms hurt, GE shows aren't just a work out for your legs, it's your arms where it gets you! But with the ALT we went out for a very nice walk around the park in the next town. It's nice being in the country.

Then back to school for the seminar. I hadn't done one of these in a while either. At first I was just saying things to the teachers, which they just ignored or said "nah" to, then I remembered that I have to use all the tricks of the trade, and then got them to go "Ah, I see!". One of these was, after doing 40 minutes of stuff, "Right, so are you going to become a great English teacher?" "Nah, can't be bothered". Hmmm, so I gave my "War Speech" and then they all said "Oh, now I get it, right, tell me more!". I think I need to write the GE book, so that I don't forget all these little tricks and ways of putting things so that people understand, they really are gold dust. But that's another set of teachers genkified, now it's up to the kouchou sensei to give them a little more time every week!

Then out in the evening for a steak, paid for by the school (!) with the Soryo ALT and an ALT from the next town, who was a Taco Bell addict... quite a fun evening.

Wednesday 21st April - On the road to Hiroshima & Samurai Armour

Now I know where all the money went last year, on Shinkansen fares!! It doesn't half cost a fortune to move around Japan. But I made it up to Soryo Town in the wilds of Hiroshima safely and met up with the ALT and her Kouchou Sensei. The Kouchou sensei took us to her house for dinner, which was nice. But she had no idea who I was! If she didn't know about Genki English then that's fine, but she just thought that I was an ALT who had volunteered to go up to her town for the day. I don't know which is crazier, the fact that she thought an ALT would do that, or the fact that she gave her permission! Anyway, we had a chat about lots of things and she quickly decided that a teaching seminar would be good after all!

So an early night in a room with a Samurai suit of armour! Wow, you can't get more Japanese than that.

Tuesday 20th April - Photos, Printing and Running Around

I seemed to be well busy today. It took till lunchtime to sort out all the email enquiries about the CDs ( the need to eat necessitates these taking priority!), then out to get my hair cut and the photo shoot for the Genki Phonics CD sorted out. That took a while and in the end I didn't actually get them done, but I think I know a good place.

From tomorrow I'm travelling round again, so I needed to have a load of materials. So I popped into Kinkos and just downloaded a load of stuff from the website. I was well impressed, with the Workbook, Card Game, Picture Cards, I didn't realise just how much stuff I have to download on here. Plus printing it out on a colour laser printer just looks so good, great!

Then I had to pop the workbook and a demo of the Phonics CD into the bookstores to get some feedback. Then now I'm sat in Seattle's Best with my fourth coffee of the day going through my emails. I hope I get finished before midnight!

Monday 19th April - Day off - long nose

It's my day off again today, they seem to come round very often now that I have one per week! Mind you I spent the morning doing mail and stuff. Then went out to the new Outlet Village in Tosu. There wasn't too much there ( apart from the really cool Lego shop - I love Lego!!), but it was nice to have a drive out in the country.

On the way back I popped into a bookstore and bought a load of new books and stuff. One was really good, for adults it had loads of cool English and the first word on the CD was "Dude!". Can't be bad! Mind you although the book was good, the CD made me fall asleep - where's the genkiness? There was also one really fantastic book telling Japanese people the mistakes that are often made. One great chapter was saying "You might want to say to a foreigner "You have a high nose", but this is Japanese English, and most foreigners would understand "You have a long nose" better. But this may come across as a little rude, so it's probably best to say "I like the different shape of your nose. I wish I had a nose like that"...... Makes no wonder most Japanese people are totally confused about English with weird stuff like that around!

But I also picked up the Pokemon English book. The CD was quite good ( not too genki but OK), and apart from the "Fine thank you, and you?" phrase it has some really good stuff in it. If you teach kids it's maybe worthwhile picking a copy up!

Sunday 18th April - Lots of coffee

I wasn't too genki in the morning, so went off to work in the local Royal Host restaurant. The best thing is that they have an "all you can drink" drink bar. So after a dozen or so coffees I was going head on with a load of new stuff! Great!

Saturday 17th April - Larry King and CDs

I managed to catch the Larry King show this morning. That is such a great show. The people on there are such an inspiration, with all the stuff they've done and the people they've met. Everyone looks about 30, but most of them are over 70! And they all say the same thing, whatever you do it's all in your mind, eat well, exercise and just keep going at what you believe in.

So I am, here's to getting the new CD done ASAP!

Friday 16th April - DVD's no good!

Got bit of a surprise phonecall this morning from one of the big bookstores saying that the quality of the DVD isn't good enough! Bit of a shock that. It's never nice to be told something's not good, but as a businessman I have to listen to what people say, and as Seth Godin ( author of "Purple Cow") says, if you want to be remarkable you've got to be prepared for criticism. So I sent off a few emails to ask for all the details!

The rest of the day went quite well and I got a load of recording done. Then at tea time I popped down to the Seattle's Best in Nakasu to get some work done on the Phonics CD games. It was looking pretty tricky as to how to do those, but just as they were closing at 11:30 I figured it out - phew! Then it was such nice weather I sat and did my emails down by the river, it's great is Japan, Friday night at midnight and I can just sit outside with my laptop and be quite happy that no-one would even think of stealing it from me!

Thursday 15th April - Deleted it all

Did quite a bit of recording and stuff today. Then trashed it all as it wasn't genki enough! I can't put the name "Genki English" on something that isn't 100% perfect. Oh well, there's always tomorrow!

Wednesday 14th April 2004 - Just do it!

Right, after yesterday not getting anything done, today I just said "Get some work done!!". So after 3 or 4 hours of emails and admin stuff I was on a bit of a roll and pushed on to producing the mini lessons for the phonics CD. I've got so many ideas floating in my head that I'm so excited about, but I've got to just sit down and get them produced!!! Just do it!!!

It's also great having the computer to do mixing on! In the "old days" I used to have to wire up all the synths, set up all the mixing channels and play around with the faders and settings whilst doing the mix. If it was wrong and I'd already moved onto another song, well there was basically nothing to do but start again! But now with the computers it's just a case of recalling a file. So however much I may complain about how difficult they are for songwriting, for recording they're great!

I also got the new Disney English DVD today. As you probably know I'm a bit fan of Walt Disney and am really looking forward to the company putting his magic and vision on to educational aims. So I sat down, put on the DVD and wow... Disney music and magic!! But then the English started..... oh dear...... They took a famous scene from a movie (good idea), and then stripped off the original English soundtrack (errrr?), then over the top they dubbed Junior High School style English (erghh!!). Man I was so disappointed! It was things like "What is the cook doing?" "The cook is cooking dinner", obviously made to appeal to parents who could connect it with their own high school experience of English. But in one way it made me even more determined to get my Genki English stuff done!

Tuesday 13th April 2004 - Getting rid of..

If there was one thing to get rid of that would make this World a better place it would be procrastination!

I spent all day doing stuff today, but got absolutely nothing to show for it! Hmmm... gotta get some genkiness back!

Monday 12th April 2004 - Chugakkou gets funky

Today's was my day off, so me and my girlfriend drove up to Yamaguchi. That was pretty cool. One of the best things about driving around is that I get to listen to lots of music, and being me I spend all my time pulling it apart, seeing how it ticks and learning new stuff. And it was doing this that I stumbled across a fantastic idea for Junior High English. This could be just the thing to get chugakusei funky! Brilliant.

I also put on the phonics CD and that also sounded really good. Putting the mini lessons on there is great, everybody just starts singing along without noticing, and then the music kicks in and everyone already knows the song. Fantastic. I'm really excited now about all these new ideas!! Just got to get time to get them all done!!

Sunday 11th April 2004 - Fukuoka ACET and Lots and Lots of internet work

Today was the meeting of one of the best groups of teachers in the country, ACET in Fukuoka. They are just such a great bunch of people, and I figured I'd just pop along to see a teaching workshop from the teachers' side of things! And it was really great, I got a ton of new ideas, and it was cool chatting to people. Yeah, at the end of the day what people want is not fancy theory or opinions, what they want are good solid techniques and ideas THAT WORK! Which gave me a great big boost for the new Genki English stuff! And if you're genki and friendly and teaching in Fukuoka, check out their next meeting in May!

In the afternoon I popped into Maruzen. And apart from being embarrassed for the second time today by seeing my poster on the wall (the first was when the song used in the ACET meeting was my weather song!), I found some good new stuff, including a great new Apricot picture book by Nakamoto sensei. She really does have some great ideas!

Because this took up most of the day I had to get up at 3AM to get my computer work done. And I finished at 1AM. But it was a pretty good day all the same!

Saturday 10th April 2004 - Costco

Things have certainly changed in 7 years. When I first arrived people went mad over an English bar of chocolate. Now in Fukuoka they have a Costco, and it's identical to the one in Leeds!!! It was fantastic. And of course the best thing about Costco is the cookies (yep, even in England we call them cookies if they are the ones like they sell here!). The only problem is they sell them in bulk, not too good for someone who has only been doing computer stuff and no shows for the last 4 months!!

Friday 9th April 2004 - Down by the river

For the first time in a while I didn't need all my music gear today. I was doing the inlay card for the Phonics CD, so took my computer to the Seattle's Best down by the river in Nakasu. That is so nice, and it's so much easier to work there! And in my break time I even managed to write a new song, fantastic!

Thursday 8th April - How to get fluent in Japanese

Went through the phonics songs this morning, they are sounding good! Then I checked the sites stats and noticed there was a massive jump in people using the site yesterday (like really massive!). It turns out it was mainly people interested in the site, which ranks really high in google - without me doing anything!

So I took some time to clean up the site, and also added in my hints and tips for getting fluent in Japanese, which also has some links to products I used to learn Japanese. Hopefully these links will help pay for the extra bandwidth!

I also put up details of the bulk order schemes for the Genki English CDs, these are proving really popular with teachers who want to set the songs as homework for their students. So now the discount is upto 20% off for orders over 20 copies, plus of course there is free P&P!

Right, it's now 8PM so I'm going to get a bite to eat and check out Friends at 9PM on Fox!

Wednesday 7th April 2004- Hip Hop

After Yahoo not living up to expectations, I spent a lot of time today making sure the site is all nice and search engine friendly. This does take time, but I see it like a playstation game. I could either be trying to build an alien empire, or I could be trying to build a website that does well and the judge of success is in the sales and visitor numbers!

I also had a few people ringing about buying the books we have. It was good to hear problems with finding their way round the site. So I put on some larger panels on the main screen that should make it easier to see what's available.

Then in the evening I eventually got round to some production work and did a great hip hop track - right, that's gotta be the phonics "f" song!

Tuesday 6th April 2004 - Yahoo ?

Got listed in the Japanese Yahoo today!! Yehey, the key to lots and lots of visitors to the site! Or not as it may seem. They listed the site as a"children's' language school". Wonderful!! You pay a fortune, they ask you to jump through hoops to get the site to fit their regulations, then they can't even figure out what the site is about! I wouldn't really be that fussed as the site still ranks well for other keywords, but the problem is whenever it now appears in Yahoo it has the words "language school" written next to it! This is bound to turn teachers off and also to lead to a ton more emails from people thinking that's what we are (there is no Genki English school - if there was I'd be a millionaire!).

The problem is that Yahoo, strangely, doesn't seem to have a category for a web based business. There are rankings for teaching guides, but I can't appear there as I sell stuff on the site (eventhough there are sites there that you actually have to pay to access!), and the only business type of listing for English is for schools. Oh dear, well let's see how it goes, but it is a big opportunity missed.

Monday 5th April 2004 - Off to Aso San

Got up early because it's my day off!! Yeah!! Did a few bits of email work, including re-submitting the site to Yahoo, and got some great messages.

Then off on a glorious sunny day to the Aso San volcano in the middle of Kyushu island. It's so nice travelling round Japan in the nice weather. Had some really great food and also popped in to see one of the biggest Cherry Blossom trees in Japan. When I first came here I could never understand why people loved "Sakura" so much, but the reason is simple, when the cherry trees blossom it means Winter has ended and we can enjoy the warm weather to come!

Sunday 4th April 2004 - China

I don't know what it is about Sundays but I always end up getting lots of teachers from China getting in touch via messenger! It is actually quite good hearing about what teachers need in other countries, and of course the very favourable response of Chinese students to Genki English! Then after all the IMs from China, I had a chat with a very nice teacher in Egypt! What with CD orders from Germany and Korea as well, it was a very international day!

And if anyone is reading is from any country, please feel free to get in touch with requests for ideas etc, that you need for your students!

Saturday 3rd April 2004 - More recording and stuff

Spent the day recording the phonics CD and working on things on the website, including a learning English guide for Japanese adults.

Friday 2nd April 2004 - No Yahoo, recording routine

Right, I'm going to make a new new rule and only do emails and web work in the morning! Then the afternoon I can do production work, otherwise I'll never get anything done!

This morning was a bit of a hassle as Yahoo refused to allow the site in their directory (eventhough I paid!), there are a million and one regulations that need seeing to before they'll index it. Which at first seems a bit strange considering that the vast majority of sites in there don't have anything like all the info they're requesting! But, it doesn't help wondering about other people, it's up to me to get it fixed!

Then in the afternoon I recorded the "m" and "n" songs. They are really, really good with super catchy melodies. It almost seems a shame to use them for a phonics CD! But I can't get them out of my head now!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday 1st April 2004 - Genki Pills on sale!

At 1 AM this morning I sent off a press release talking about the amazing new product I'd just released - "Genki Pills". "Take just one and you'll be Genki all week!" was the slogan.

The thing is that people believed me!! It was put up on news sites and I even had some (very respectable) editors asking for free samples to try before they reviewed them!!!! Apparently people didn't twig that the only info requested on the order form was the date: April 1st! I laughed all morning!

Then I got down to real work (still in a good mood though!) doing more submissions to Yahoo (it costs 5 man!), and also putting "please contact me" messenger facility for the Japanese site. So you can now see if I'm online and send me a message in either Japanese or English. Check out the English one at the left of this page!

Wednesday 31st March - Updates and lots of mail

Again I take one day off and the next day it takes me till after lunchtime to catch up with my emails! Mind you I'm not complaining, I got some really interesting emails today from all over the place.

On the last day of the month I also do my spring cleaning of the site and do little bits of updating. So I cleaned up the main pages, added in the Shop page in Japanese and also updated the "page for parents". I also checked out everything was OK on the site as far as the search engines are concerned ( that's always a tough job, but necessary otherwise people would never find the site), and also updated the internal search engine on the site - check it out at the top of the page!

Lots of people have also been asking about Easter stuff, I don't have anything myself ( it always falls on the Spring holidays!) but Jeremy at ESLKidStuff has put a great page up. There was also a great article on the ELTnews today about how 90% of JHS and SHS English Teachers failed their English tests!

OK, it's now 6:30 PM, so I'm going to make some tea and then get cracking with the phonics CDs!

2004 March 30th - Tuesday - a day off

Yesterday didn't quite work out as planned as I spent most of the day doing admin stuff. Mrs Abe ( the lady who deals with our orders) took a ( very rare ) day of so I was in charge of the phones. That is actually quite good as the schools that ring are nearly always wanting help and are so grateful when I take time to have a chat to them. It's also nice to hear schools who've previously ordered CDs wanting to buy some more. In fact one school had bought a set way back in 2000 on the tour, and was now ringing to order 9 more sets! Very nice!

So in the evening I did eventually get some music work done and had lots of inspiration to come up with one new song and a whole set of production for another one - yeah cool!

Oh, yeah, and Tuesday was my day off.

2004 March 29th - Monday - a better day?

Ok, I'm actually writing this this morning, so this is how I want the day to turn out....

First I drink lots of coffee and whilst listening to MTV do all my mail and admin work ( already done this!). Hopefully it will be warm enough to work in a T-shirt and enjoy the nice weather ( OK on this one as well).

So then I'll sit down at the keyboards and just play some funky tunes!!!!! Let's see how it goes....

2004 March 28th - Sunday - I wish it were Friday...

Today was back to doing the Phonics songs. But.... I couldn't get anything done!! It was back to sitting down, playing the keys, pressing the buttons but nothing came out!! What a contrast to Friday!!! Wow, it's amazing the difference. I wonder if the cloudy weather had anything to do with it?

So back to a few old techniques for getting ideas, by looking at other people's songs. And it's all in the hook. Just one note moved here or there makes the magic! For example the Black Eyed Peas song, all it is is four chords, F / C / Dm / Bb - the trick is that the C chord is a C/E to give a descending bassline. It is magic isn't it! I also had a listen to the Kids English CD, wow, there are some really good songs on there, I wish they'd release it as an album!

2004 March 27th - Recording

Today I popped into the set to produce a recording session for another CD project I have, this time to help junior high school kids. It's not quite genki, but it is something that really, really helped me learning languages so it could be really good!

2004 March 26th - Friday - If everyday could be like today!

Today was great, I got two songs written and recording, first time, first take. Fantastic!!! Great, oh just imagine if everyday went as well as today! So for the first time in ages I could relax in the evening knowing I'd done a great day's work!

2004 March 25th - Thursday - Inspiration!

Now this is more like it!!! For the last 3 months I've been really struggling trying to come up with some cool productions for the new phonics CD, it's gotta be genki, but credible, and it's very difficult.

But yesterday I got a new music computer and wow!!! This is so great, just playing around and song ideas are just flowing like crazy!! In about an hour I'd written 3 or 4 really good tracks, excellent, excellent, excellent!! This is how I wrote the first few CDs, and it's just so much fun.

So although software is supposed to be the new in thing, it doesn't half compete to writing on great hardware made especially for the job! This new phonics CD is going to be an absolute killer!!!!!!! I can't wait. Yeah.

2004 March 24th - Wednesday - Music Computer!

Tried to do some music work in the morning, but it didn't really work. The new software synths I have sound fantastic, but less like Genki English and more like Terminator 3! Not very useful. When I did get something going the computer crashed. Hmmm.

In the afternoon I had a meeting with a teacher to get some feedback on the CDs. It mostly consisted of "That song is really good", that's always nice to hear. Then "that song is just rubbish", which is also important to hear so I can fix any problems, "You know the one that goes, la la , la la" ...... The only thing was that wasn't a Genki English song!! So mostly good, with the exception of "What's the weather like?" being too fast for 3 year olds ( the trick is to teach the acapella faster than the CD!). It was also interesting to hear that the owner of her school thought that the CDs were graded, CD 1 for the youngest, CD2 for the next year up etc. I think I'll have to make it clearer on the site that that's not the case, any of the songs are cool right from the beginning, they're only grouped on the CDs by topic, not by age or level! Phonics songs were also requested......

I also mentioned I was needing to get a new computer "Well, as long as it's not a Mac, anything's OK". Aha, the first bad word I'd heard about a mac! "Everyone says they're so easy to use, but there are so many small things that are just so much easier to do on the PC but take for ever on the Mac". Looks like I won't be spending that 70 man then. I also popped into Best Denki, and the guy there said that even with a brand new computer there isn't that much difference between that and my two year old one. So I decided to forget getting a computer and to make do with mine for the time being.

So I decided to buy a new music computer (a fraction of the price), and it is just amazing!!!

2004 March 23rd - Tuesday - writing

It's amazing how much email builds up after only a couple of days. I also wrote the Japanese newsletter and my newspaper column, the final one of the year!

There's also a problem with the autoresponders for the orders. The latest thing is viruses hitting them with fake return addresses, which then triggers an order confirmation email to someone who has probably never been anywhere near the site! Not very good, and as most people don't know how viruses work, it's not very good PR for the company. This is something I have to fix, but it looks like it maybe another expensive route all down to the spam mail explosion!

2004 March 22nd - Monday - Computers - Argh!

After yesterday having my computer crash twice just as I was about to finish a recording project I went out today to buy a new computer. I figured it would be quite easy "Hello, what's the best computer you have?", "Here you go sir, how about this?". But oh no!

It is just so strange that compared with 6 months ago computer prices have actually gone up, whilst performance and features have actually gone down!! My notebook is ultra slim line with 512Meg of memory and a 1Ghz Mobile Pentium chip, but you can't even buy one like this anymore! You either have to have a bulkier machine or one with only a touch more power for a lot more money.

So I started looking at desktops. They aren't that much cheaper, but after trying a couple of machines at Applied and having them crash - great - they let me try a machine with a top of the range graphics card. Now that makes a huge difference! Oh, fantastic! But there were basically 4 different ranges of machine all with the same specs but vastly different prices, so I asked the guy "What's the difference?", "Err, well, hmmm, not sure really" was the answer! After 3 hours of research I ended up having a headache so left! But if I can't buy a new computer having a degree in physics and the experience of buying a new machine ever year, then I feel sorry for the average person who walks in off the street! When I used to work for NEC, it was always a case of "make the customer happy", here it's a case of "leave the customer with a big headache and let them walk out of the shop". How do they ever sell anything?

So anyway, I went to Yodabashi camera. Here I asked "Right, I want a top of the range machine and I want to ask lots of technical questions". "No problem" was the answer (all of this is in Japanese of course). But they were hopeless as well! After explaining I wanted a machine for multitrack music recording and video editing with fast graphics capabilities, she showed me a machine "because it has a pretty screen!"!!!! Arghh!!! Anyway I eventually found a new Sony, with a 3.4Ghz chip and a nice graphics card. Now I wasn't going to buy a Sony anyway as I bought 2 of them 3 years ago and ended up giving them away because they crashed too much. But for the price, 40man, I figured that's the same price as the Mac G5.

So I went to have a look at that and the guy was actually quite helpful ( I guess having less choice makes it easy!). But without software and without a monitor it came out at 41 man. Now that is quite a bit of money! If it did really work, all seamlessly and reliably then it maybe worth the investment i.e. if it let's me work twice as fast I can get twice as much work done. But it always seems like the Mac is a bit "airy fairy" with lots of pretty pictures and nice words, but not much substance. It did feel fast, but not as "instant" as I feel a brand new computer should!

So then I passed by the Dell shop. They had a very nice new machine, which easily felt as fast as the Mac. Hmm, nice! If I got that it would also mean I wouldn't have to replace all my software and it's half the price at only 25 man! Yeah! But... it takes "around" 2 weeks for delivery. Which according to the guy could mean two weeks, but for a top spec machine could mean months!!!

So I gave up!! Ideally I'd love a nice portable NEC or Sharp as I've had those in the past and they were fantastic. Even if I could just buy the same notebook as I have now I'd be happy, but you can't get them and the one I have now is just tired from overuse....... The Dell's the best bet, but I can't trust the delivery time. And the Macs they have in stock, but 50 man plus is a lotta, lotta money!

Hmmm......not a very productive day! Any ideas?

2004 March 21st - Sunday - Furniture building day

It's not half as exciting as last year, is it, this diary? The highlight of today was my new desk and posh chair arriving! Cool! It is so much nicer to work in a proper chair, rather than on the sofa. Right, now all my gear is set out properly, let's get cracking on this phonics CD.

2004 March 20th - Saturday - Day off

It's quite good this getting into a routine business, it means I work most of the week then actually manage to get a day off once a week as well! Cool. I had a look at computers today, but again nothing too special, for that amount of money I want something that will be a massive jump from the machine I use now! Mind you I did nearly buy an LCD monitor, they're really cheap now. But decided against it at the last minute!

2004 March 19th - Friday - Have I got news for you?

Normal work stuff during the day, PR and working on the site. Then in the evening I checked out some of the TV I'd recorded whilst I was back in the UK. "Have I got news for you?" is just the most hilarious thing ever! Well worth buying a DVD recorder for!

2004 March 18th - Thursday - Sleep and website

I slept till lunchtime, I think I needed it! Then the afternoon was spent sorting out a big show and seminar in Osaka and general maintenance of the site. Nothing spectacular really!

2004 March 17th - Cold and more Phonics!

I woke up this morning, got all ready to do some recording and..... I've got a sore throat!! Typical, 3 months in the UK being perfectly healthy and I've only been back in Japan 2 weeks and already I have a cold! Not very nice!

But anyway I was still feeling quite genki so I went out to a restaurant and got lots of work done. I updated the phonics worksheets section of the site, and also put the phonics quizzes on the Kids Page of the site. I do know have to think about what to do with the rest of the phonics worksheets. I can't put them all on here for free, but I'm not sure whether to make then a downloadable product, or to make them into a printed book.

It's actually a lot easier these days doing Japanese versions of the site as I don't have to worry about bandwidth as just about everyone has broadband. Which got me thinking about a whole load of other ideas!

In the evening I was supposed to go out, but wasn't feeling too well so had an early night.

2004 March 16th - Tuesday - Fukuoka & Phonics

Woke up in Tokyo and it was freezing. Flew back down to Fukuoka and it was really nice!

So straight back to work and after a few emails I got a call saying I needed to buy a bigger laser printer ASAP, it seems the picture cards are proving very popular at the moment and we've nearly run out of stock! I also checked the orders and we sold a lot of superpacks yesterday, I should go to DisneyLand more often!

In town I happened to bump into a friend and big Genki English fan. I mentioned that I was thinking of moving to Fukuoka, and just like everyone else the answer was "please do". Well, it is a nice place!

Then after more work down by the river I uploaded 3 more phonics quizzes. That means there is basically all kids need to read English free on the site! To be honest I should have made the phonics page into a paid for product. But teachers have been giving me such good feedback about the results their kids have been having by using the page at home, that I figured "OK, let me just give it away!". You never know, if enough kids start using it, it could be the page that lets Japan learn to read!!

That took till about 10-ish, so whilst finishing off today's emails I'm checking out "Boku to Kanojyo" on Fuji TV to see which Genki English materials they'll use this week!!

2004 March 15th - Monday - DisneyLand

After being in England for so long I had been in an English mindset, so what better way to get into the Japanese one than to visit DisneyLand!!

It was, as usual, really cool! Disney really knows how to motivate kids, the staff, the production and everything are first class. It's also cool what they do with their staff, everyone is a "cast member" - if you're not genki, you have to play the part of someone who is! Now if they could only put all that into the education market it'd be fantastic. But of course the problem at the moment is that the you'd never recoup the production costs...

Speaking of which I don't know who said that Japan is in bad economic shape, but they obviously haven't told the Japanese public! They were just buying things like crazy!! You couldn't believe how much omiyage was being sold!! Wow.

2004 March 13th - Sat / Sun - Nice weather

It was nice weather this weekend, and I didn't really do too much work, just spent a lot of time around town. I did notice that there is a new "Elementary School" English programme out, but it's not really suitable at all for elem school. And I wish people would stop using katakana, and also to ask native speakers to chose the target English!!

But anyway, it was a very nice weekend, I also bought a very nice chair to work from, ate lots of nice food and even caught a movie. Cool.

2004 March 12th - Friday - Samplers

Last week as I was cleaning all of my stuff out of the Genki House and sold all my music gear, I also sold my big Yamaha sampler. To be honest it was pretty rubbish ( an A4000, way too slow and way to pricey at 120,000 yen!!), but it now means I'm without a sampler - one of the most important pieces of music gear. But this is 2004, so now you can get them in software form! And wow, flippin 'eck, this is amazing!! To be honest I've never been into samplers much, I usually just play synths, but having an easy to use, very powerful sampler at my finger tips is pretty cool to say the least. So hopefully next week when I get back down to doing music work, things should be a whole lot more funky!

2004 March 11th - Thursday - On TV again

Just did normal computer work today, working on new projects and things. I also heard that this time the worksheets had been featured on Tuesday nights TV series. That's quite cool.

I went into town to have a look to see if there had been any new computers been released since I was last here, but there haven't. Bit of a shame, but nevermind.

2004 March 10th - Wednesday - Lots of stuff

I think I've got more work done in these past 3 days than I have in the last 3 weeks! I spent the morning doing some more stuff on the website and catching up with my emails. Then started work on a new audio CD project I've got going! This should be good.

Then in the afternoon I went out to a restaurant and started compiling your feedback forms into a report for the Ministry of Education. The thing is that they've asked for it translating to Japanese, but at over 50 pages that could take a while! Mind you other people could probably get a Master Degree for doing this!

Then in the evening I met up with a friend in Fukuoka to chat about business and stuff. That was cool, then out for a few beers before my girlfriend arrived back at midnight.

2004 March 9th - Tuesday - Kids Workbook & Audio Quizzes

Over the past few weeks I've been going through my plans for Genki English for the coming year. One of the themes that keeps coming up from the bookstores and private teachers, is the need for a kids workbook. Personally I believe the songs and games are the main thing, but giving the parents something to follow is also very important.

So I finished off the new Kids Workbook Vol. I and put it on the site on the new Members Page. Hopefully people will be able to give me some feedback before I produce the printed version, and it's yet another thank you present for people who have been so kind as to support me by buying the CDs.

I also took the chance with the book to include some audio games. These could be quite useful, especially for non-native speaking teachers or for evaluation purposes. They have actually turned out really well, maybe making these into a full CD maybe an idea?

Anyway, I finished work at 10PM, a good days work!

2004 March 8th - Monday - Down to work and

Right, I'm completely on my own for the next 3 days so I can just blast on with a load of work and get tons of stuff done with no interruptions! With my jet lag I'm also in the strange position of waking up at 8AM and feeling sleepy at midnight, very strange!

So after seeing all the reports about Maths Education not being fun in the UK, I built the new (or for our American cousins) website. Basically this is the Genki English games that can adapted and used for teaching maths. Hopefully it should help out a load of teachers in the UK bring a bit of genkiness to their classes. It's also the first step in bringing the Genki English ideas and way of teaching to other subjects, which is something I really want to work at.

Mind you when you start doing maths resources, it really does emphasise how easy teaching English is compared with other subjects!!

2004 March 7th - To Fukuoka and it's freezing!!

One of the reasons I leave Japan in the Winter is because it is soooo cold. So last week I asked everyone, "What's the weather like in Japan?" the answer was "It's quite warm, you don't need a coat". Yeah, right!!!! It is flippin' freezing!!!!!!!!!!! I cannot believe how cold it is in Kyushu!!! All those palm trees they plant to lull you into a false sense of being in paradise!!!

Well, I think next Winter moving to Spain maybe an idea, or even back to KL!!

2004 March 3rd - 7th - Ehime - Moving Stuff

Spent the last couple of days moving all my stuff from the Matsuyama Genki House, where I haven't stayed in a year because of my asthma, and moved everything to the office in Imabari. Most of my own personal stuff I just threw out, for the last 3 years I've only worn the clothes in my bag as I've been moving so much! I also sold most of my studio gear, nowadays I can do it all in my laptop!

The company also has acquired a ton of stuff over the last couple of years, and it all had to be moved to Imabari.

2004 March 2nd - Back to Japan - via KL and hot sunshine

I was supposed to fly back from the UK to Japan via Thailand, to help out with the NGO I work with there. But I postponed it to try and get the phonics CD done, it's not a problem as I'll be able to pop over in the Summer. Mind you it's just as well with the bird flu scandal!

But it did mean I had an 11 hour flight from the UK to KL and then a 16 hour stop over! The good thing was the timing, from 8AM till Midnight!! So after doing today's email (there is a great lounge at KL airport) I went for a wonder round the city. And after 3 months of cold weather it was absolutely fantastic to be in the hot sunshine!! Yeah!!!! Fantastic! This year I'm planning on cutting back on live events ( I think teaching 2,000 teachers and 10,000 kids was enough last year) and spending more time on making new resources, so somewhere hot would be the best place!

And the shopping in KL is great - wow!

Then at midnight onto the plane to Japan.

2004 February - Phonics CD and the need for GenkiMaths

The plan this month was to get the new Genki Phonics CD ready for the big launch at the Maruzen Bookstore in Tokyo on the 23rd. The thing is that nobody has anything like the phonics CD I'm planning. But after trying to record it for the last couple of weeks I think I know why - I don't think it's physically possible to record it!!

Hmmm... this is a bit of challenge! But as I've passed the deadline then I think I'll leave it till I get back to Japan next month.

It's been good this month just hanging out in the UK, being able to get up, watch a bit of telly, popping out and getting some work done when I want. There was also a big thing on the news about Maths education in England not working because it's not fun enough... sounds like a job for Genki Maths!!

It's also strange being back in England as I just hang out at home, just being a big kid. The thing is that a lot of people in Japan think I lead the same hectic business life over here as I do in Japan. So I have lots of people saying "Can you help with this?", "Do you know these people?", when in reality I haven't a clue about anything in the UK really!! I half expect people to think I dine with the Queen every night! Watching Coronation Street is more like it!

2004 Jan - It's hard...

I'm supposed to be back in solid work mode now. No fun presentations or travels, just getting down to the nitty gritty and actually producing new materials. And it is flippin' hard work! Having a load of problems to sort out doesn't help. Actual teaching or meeting people is really easy, and easy to be genki at, but sitting day in day out trying to get genkiness down on paper, on manuscript, or into a computer takes a lot of effort. All the inspiration bits are done, it's just the slog to make them reality. Sometimes I think I must be mad doing this, the nice emails I keep getting keep me going, but if there's ever been a test of genkiness so far, it's now!

But I got a nice quote today "Some people dream of success ... while others wake up and work hard at it."

Gambarimasyou as we say in Japan!

2004 Jan 1st- 7th - "Last Samurai" star & Genki English in new TV Drama

Wow, the start to 2004 has been exciting to say the least!

"Last Samurai" star Koyuki is playing the part of an English teacher in the major new Fuji TV Drama series. So guess what materials the producers chose for her character to teach with? Genki English of course!! So after appearing with Tom Cruise on the big screen, on Tuesday night she was singing one of my songs ( "How are you?") on TV to over a million viewers!! Flippin' eck!!!

This week is also really exciting as is now an official company ("kabushiki gaisha" in Japanese). Up until now we've been working as a "sole trader" business, but hopefully the new designation will help me to branch out and make Genki English available to even more people.

I'm also working really hard on some cool new stuff for the site, so keep tuned in and I wish you all a very, very Genki 2004!

Click here for my Diary June - December 2003

Click here for Richard's Diary Jan-May 2003

Click here for Richard's Diary 2002!

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