Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Hello February and Flu Season

I changed the calendar on my desk this morning and took a picture to mark this change to a new month. This kind of picture happens when you are taking a picture a day.

My desk.

Hand sanitizer from home sits at the right hand of God my calendar. Japan just hit 1.11 million cases of the flu. Some schools in town have canceled classes for certain grades with a high number of kids out with the flu. My thoughts on the flu in Japan vs the flu at home could take pages and pages to write. I'll summarize. You're welcome.
  • Defining/Diagnosing the Flu. Back home, most of us call it "the flu" when we feel generally crappy, worse than a cold, likely with a fever and possibly with bad things coming from our stomachs. In Japan, a swab of the throat is usually done, up and then back down through the nose instead of just, um, directly (no idea why, and ouch!), to determine if it is really and truly and technically "influenza" or something that merely looks and feels identical. Thanks to a national health plan, most people in Japan can afford to go to the doctor when they are sick and are usually surprised the first time they hear that most of us back home wouldn't dream of it for just a cold or flu considering how much that would likely cost us.
  • Prevention. Japan is big on wearing face masks (which cracked me up at first with everyone looking like surgeons) and gargling with plain water (possibly near the coffee, if that's where the sink is). There is mention of hand washing, but public places with both hot water and soap are somewhat of a rarity. Hand sanitizer is becoming easier to find, but it's usually not as cheap as back home, and definitely not nearly as popular. I'm a germaphobe, so I carry hand sanitizer and avoid people who are wearing masks (roughly 50% of everyone right now).
  • I could go on. I promised I wouldn't.
I have other stuff on my desk, like a bottle of green tea to the left that came out of the vending machine instead of the bottle of water I needed for a fun class activity, our current textbooks in the middle and even a postcard of Chicago to the right in front of a couple of the binders of lessons I've created. Then there are the windows and the hallway with more windows and across the courtyard to the classrooms with still more glass sliding doors and windows. An abundance of glass at my school.

And with that, Let's February!

17/366 - My Desk on Feb 1st
(taken on my iPhone, toyed with in Photobucket)


  1. There's a lot of stuff on that desk of yours. This made me look around here too. Mine really needs tidying up. I would not dare publish a picture of mine right now. Maybe I'll do this this afternoon!

  2. Wow. I thought MY desk was covered! You win.

    What grade do you teach? I teach 4th in NYC.
    I'm sure being in a foreign country must be crazy around the time of cold/flu season. We have a lot of Asian families where I work and they LOVE the masks. Its probably not a bad idea. :)

    I'll have to post a desk picture too..

  3. Makes me want to get a flu shot now. I have to go wash my hands.


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