Sunday, December 28, 2008

California Baby!

I've spent my day visiting a friend, picking up another from the airport, hanging out in Seaport Village drinking rootbeer and feeling the sun against me, listening to sea lions grumble and rumble, eat nice Mexican food, and finally chill next to a bon fire on a secluded beach. I'm content.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Some random thoughts about today on Christmas:

  • I bought Christmas gifts for my family at 3:30 am this morning.
  • Call of Duty is incredibly addicting and thank goodness I don't own a TV and a Playstation in Canada.
  • I slept in until 11:00
  • My cat Chloe was waiting outside my door today. Something she hasn't done in years...well, I haven't been around in years but that's beside the point.
  • Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I am American

Wednesday I became an American citizen. I've been waiting my whole life for this entitlement. It's a crazy thing living your whole life in a country that you cannot claim as your own; yet I've felt deeply devoted to America and her ideals. Coming back to the States, especially on a plane always leaves me feeling so secure that I'm home. Really home, even though I'm just visiting.

This whole thing has been quite ironic. I apply for citizenship back in June. I move to Canada in August. I fly in for an interview for citizenship in November, worried sick that I may not qualify being a resident of Canada. I have a miracle take place with my miracle worker interviewer. She understood my situation and said everything short of "You're a shoo-in."

Then in December I fly in to become a citizen of the United States of America:

Emotional and all, this is what I had to say to the 206 new Americans, guests and officials:

My parents who made America possible for me

My friends who came out who are my example

The miracle worker who interviewed me

I'm beyond grateful that I'm now truly a part of America. I know there's irony with me living in Canada now that I'm a citizen of the States, but mark my words, in due time I'll be back to serve the States.

Monday, December 8, 2008


My friend Kai is a meterologist in San Francisco. He sent me this today. You see that dark blue with the -40 in it? I live by there, but I don't even remember it being that cold. I guess I'm getting used to it. Oh well.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Sometime around February this year, my friend Austin Craig called me over to his computer and showed me this:

I was blown away. My brain was in visual and auditory overload; it was a flood of dozens of 10 second childhood TV memories infused with color and sound in a nostalgic 80's orgy of audio-visual candy. I ran home, went onto iTunes and downloaded the whole album Cross by Justice. My very first iTunes purchase by the way. The album was on repeat in my iPod for months. My latest play count for DVNO on iTunes is 147. Obsessed? Definitely.

But being introduced to DVNO was only the start. It kindled a fire for dance music. Ultimately I hosted a Porchapalooza where Kid Theodore played on my balcony and a dance party ensued in my room and on my porch this past summer, with DVNO as the final song.
It continues on. As I've moved up here to Canada, the dancing opportunities are few and far between. But I do what I can. There are cool people up here in Canada that can dance to a beat and have the same fun. Heather is one of them, and she keeps things cool and has memorialized this song for me with a wicked Christmas gift.
Thanks Austin, Heather and everyone else in between.

The Great 2008; Summer of Sam

I've been thinking a lot about this past year and all the adventures I've had. I'm going to be reminiscing a lot on here to wrap up this year of years.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Is anyone else suffering from this? Or is it just me?

You make me touch your hands for stupid reasons

One of the things I can celebrate on the 25th is my one year mark. I think it would've been satisfying if it ended like this.

Thanks Kenji

Monday, December 1, 2008

Another commentary on being a teacher...

Some people have mixed reactions when I tell them I'm a teacher. Take today for example:

Girl: He's a teacher at a high school.
Other girl: He's a teacher???
Me: Yeah, I teach kids....can you believe that??? They entrust ME with kids! (as I'm putting on nail polish and taking in the fumes. No wonder why girls polish their nails.)

Girl: I can tell you teach grade school. When you hang around them all day you act certain ways.
Me: What??? How?
Girl: I dunno, just in the way you talk.
Me: Huh??? (as I have a facial mask on while cleaning up after the cookies someone made)

This is it for me

I walked in my office from lunch today and found a note sitting on my computer. It was a heart-felt thank you note from a student. They say that teaching is a thankless job, that the rewards are imbedded deep within the profession and don't come from without. Whatever they say, I have found it for me. I love being a teacher.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Week of Weeks

This has been one of the most exhausting weeks in recent memory. I'm glad it's come; I'm relieved it's passed. I feel like I can finally rest for just a little bit now. Here's my boring play by play...this is more for me than anything.


As usual I wake up at 6 am to get ready for early morning rehearsal with the marching band. A typical Monday as usual. After school I have to head out to pick up my suit from the cleaner, I got there just as the owner was pulling out, go to Family Home Evening then finally I get home at 9 pm only to start my sub plans, prepare for my review from the assistant superintendent the next day, and pack for my overnight trip to Salt Lake. I finally get to bed at 3 am.
I wake up bright and early at 6 am with the help of my great friend, Kara in Michigan, who I call on to help me wake up whenever I'm scared that I'll sleep through three alarms. It's never happened yet, but she has saved my hide many times. I head to work to prep for that day. My mentor teacher told me to have a file prepared for the evaluation so I can be ready and to impress. I felt prepared by the time school started.

School is the same as usual, except Mr Sommerfeldt is there for a couple of hours to observe me. It went a lot easier than I thought it would. He sent me an e-mail of his notes and they were really positive. I guess that's a good thing. I was hoping for more criticism. His biggest comment, "You expect a lot from your kids...!" My reply, "Ummmmmmm.....yeah....yes I do." I didn't know if he was saying it as a bad thing or a good thing. It turns out it was a little of both. What can I say, I'm never satisfied with the status quo. Well, immediately after I finished my classes, I put together my materials for my finance class, gave them to my sub for my last class of the day and headed out to Calgary to catch a flight to Salt Lake at 4:45 pm. It takes 2 and a half hours to drive there; I had some driving to do.

I get to Calgary and ultimately to Salt Lake without a hitch. Flying in, I have never felt so happy to be home. It was quite emotional for me flying in because of what was at stake and the purpose of my trip. I was glad to be home. Well, David Eff picks me up from the airport and we're finally able to chill and talk. I get to Provo for dinner with friends at the Spark Lounge. I'm sorry, it was nice but I guess I still lean toward quantity over quality. The portions were killing me and I went to Denny's with Kenji later that night.

It was great to see my friends! It always is. Of the many things I miss, one of them is the ability to have any sort of engaging conversation. Maybe it's because I just hang out with high school kids all day and we don't really talk about much...yep, not much to talk about. We ate dinner then headed out across the street to the Pennyroyal Cafe where Nathan Robbins showed us around. Then it was off to the Sego Art Gallery where Kaneischa Johnson and Jason Metcalf showed us their current art show. I say my goodbyes for this round then head home to Sandy with Kenji and eventually to bed after playing Peggle Nights until 2 am. Always great to be with friends.
The day I've been anticipating for months, even years. I had a bunch of errands to do before my interview: get a copy of my criminal record to prove I have none, record all the trips I've made outside the US in the past 6 months, and get some passport photos for my hopeful certificate. I arrive at the offices early and wait for 35 minutes trying not to brood over my dilemma. I get called in by an immigration agent. She was very warm and welcoming. She mentioned my file and laughed at my greencard ID. I was not a happy camper being 17 months old in that photo. It was a good laugh, and her attempt to break the ice. I was still nervous and she readily picked up on it. She said I should have no problem with the interview. And so I anxiously brought up my plight: how I am currently living in Canada but am applying for US citizenship. We discussed everything about it in detail and then she said, "Well, that shouldn't be a problem." WHAT?!?! I couldn't believe it; I have been stressing over this for months and she eased my anxiety away in an instant. It was sooo relieving. The rest of the interview was a piece of cake. She asked 10 civics questions about US government, asked my to read a basic sentence in English, write down, "I want to be an American citizen." on paper and sign a few documents. Oh there was another question that she asked that I thought I would have problems with. "Have you ever broken the law in which you were not arrested for?" I answered yes because I've been a rampage tipping over port-o-potties and wreaking havoc around the neighborhood when I was younger. She said nonchalantly, "Oh, so just juvenile stuff?" I was amazed. I thought it was a bigger deal than she did. She actually thought it was funny.

It was such a relief. I graciously thanked her for being so understanding. It gave me an even greater appreciation for this great country. Months of anticipation, stress, tears, and heart ache came to an end.

After a relaxing afternoon at home and lunch with my parents, Amanda and Kaitlin, I headed back to the airport and back home to Lethbridge where I finally was in my bed by 1:30 am.
The big event for today was my induction into the Alberta Teachers Association. Its the unifying organization for all Alberta public school teachers. I pay hefty monthly dues to them every month, but they are incredibly powerful in Alberta and they keep the standard and respect high for teachers here as well as offer just about any resource to teachers.

The ceremony was simple with other new teachers, seasoned teachers and administrators there to see us inducted. We had free dinner too. This was the meal I was looking forward to.
School as usual except tonight I hosted a musician I met in my LDS ward. His name is Kibwe from Congo, Africa. We met a couple months ago and I had the idea of having him perform at my high school for the community. It finally came to pass tonight. It was great, the students loved it, Kibwe loved it; we all had a great time.
We had marching band rehearsal at school from 10 am to 2 pm. I was soooo tired for it, but it had to get done. They march next week for three Christmas parades in the area. My alma mater won against my alma mater! I was happy about that. Later that night I was ready to go out and then a friend calls me needing some assistance at the hospital. One of our friends fell and hit her head on a curb, got a concussion, cracked her ribs and was on too much medication. So we were with her until late and I gave them a ride home at 2:30 am and was ready for meetings this morning by 8:30.

So I'm a little sleep deprived, but I feel great. This has been a memorable week. I saw my best friends in Utah, got approved for US citizenship, received good reviews by the assistant superintendent, put on a African hip-hop show for my town, and helped a friend in need. I feel great.

I cannot forget one last thing though. I had the audacity to ask my closest friends and associates to pray for me and my interview. I thank all of you who remembered me in your prayers. I felt protected, I felt secure because of you and your faith. I have the greatest friends in the world.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Going solo

The joys of living alone: Ice cream, whenever I want.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I can't sleep at night. Whenever I get really stressed out, I procrastinate going to bed because I just hate lying there at night worrying. So I just stay up until I'm exhausted and my physiological will to sleep overcomes my emotional will to stay up. This upcoming Tuesday I fly into Salt Lake City to interview for my US citizenship. I'm extremely excited at the prospect of becoming a US citizen. Even the thought about it gets me quite emotional because of how much this country has done for me and how I long to be a part of it because everything I love is in the States. The interview consists of a civics test, an English test, questions about my background and an overall judgement of my moral character. The civics test will be a breeze; they ask basic questions about US government, history and Constitution. The English test is just a dictation test, I hope my 25 years of English language speaking will serve me well. The questions about my background won't be a problem as well because I consider myself to be of high moral character. However, there's one question that is keeping me up: "When was the last time you left the United States?" "Yesterday." I know this will begin a discussion about why and where and for how long I've been out of the country. I talked to an immigration lawyer who just counseled to be as honest as possible and hope for the best. I was hoping he'd give me a silver bullet.

My friends and family in the States have been so supportive. It means so much to me to have them part of my life. I've even gone as far as to asking some to pray for me, the interviewer and the interview. My co-workers in Canada are hoping I don't pass so I stay in Canada and it's really upsetting. I am hopeful I do well, but the realist in me instills a degree or fear and worry. How do I get rid of that? How do I become so confident that I believe or even know I will pass? And if that's possible, how do I then make it so I don't come across haughty and pious. This is the interview of my life. More important to me than my interview in February that gave me a jump start my career and brought me up here in the first place. I hope for the best on Wednesday.

I hope that the result will be similar to Apu's:

Hopefully it won't turn out like Groundskeeper Willy did:
The Simpsons

Monday, November 10, 2008

Remembrance Day

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day in Canada. It's a pretty big deal here and yet, I feel bad because I know almost nothing about it. I've even been to Flanders Field in Belgium and all the memorials there. I do feel a deep sense of respect and appreciation for what has come and gone before, but not an understanding, not even a conviction. I feel sadly empty about it. But if there's anything I'm able to do, it's to serve my community well. Today the concert band played in our school's yearly Remembrance Day assembly. Adults were touched when the band played O Canada and graciously thanked me for it. Maybe they cry every year, but whatever the case, I'm honored to be part of it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


One of the things I hate most about being grown-up is other grown-ups.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Elder Matthew Keith Barton

I drove 522 miles yesterday to spend one day with Matt. It was exciting! A friend in Kelowna, Ashley, helped coordinate the meeting with a breakfast rendezvous at 8 am. We had breakfast, helped some members move, went to a baptism, went tracting and I took him and his companion out to some dindin. It was awesome. It was good seeing Matt and hanging out all day doing missionary stuff. I miss him and I miss being a missionary, I really do. He had my tag that I gave him after my mission that he wears periodically here so I wore it. It was a good laugh.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A sad realization?

I just discovered a lot of long lost high school friends' blogs. And I realized while they're blogging about their family and kids, I'm blogging about peggle.

Whatever...I love peggle!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I voted!

Today is the Federal elections for Canada where we vote for our next Prime Minister. Kind of like what's going to happen on November 4, 2008 when McCain will lose. No one knows about today because's Canada. Anyway, a student asked, "Mr. Yamamoto, who are you going to vote for?" It made me think and pause for a moment, then I replied, "I'll give you my honest answer: I don't know. But even if I did know, I wouldn't tell you." Gotta save my job ya know.

So of course at lunch in the staff room we were talking about politics and I mentioned how I can't even vote because I'm new to Canada plus the fact that I don't know who to vote for. My gracious vice-principal went to the polls in the gym and asked them if I could vote. They looked it over and said I could if I had ID or a witness to vouch for me! I CAN VOTE! So after all my classes I looked up the platforms and quickly got caught up as best I could as to where each party stood.

It was interesting. I shun labels, and I don't affiliate myself with any particular party. But if you pin me down on it, I'm closest to being a libertarian. Often people see me as liberal, which I'm not, neither do I consider myself conservative. It still raises hairs on the back of my neck though when people call me liberal or conservative. I'm neither. I'm a freethinker. I've learned correct principles and now I govern myself. Blah blah blah. Anyway, as I was reading through the platforms, I was thinking, "I'm totally siding with the conservative party." Not the Marijuana Party? Or the Bloc Quebecois??? Whatever, it's all semantics. So I voted today. I may be the first Yamamoto to do so. It's a good feeling. It really is. And now that I've expressed a little of my views that I prefer to keep to myself, I hope we can still be friends.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Peggle Peggle Peggle

I have a new peggle high score: 25,527,620

But just as incredible are the amazing things that happen just from blogging. It all started with my previous peggle shout-out. Then I get this comment on my blog from Xuyen Nguyen from, the makers of Peggle. He commented:
Although, it is unfortunate that you did not pass Statistics the first time, I am extremely glad to hear that you passed it the second time around and became a Grand Peggle Master at the same time! Your scores certainly merit that honor and we'd definitely like to thank you for blogging about us! I'd love to send you a copy of Peggle Nights and try to become a Grand Master in the sequel! Let me know what you think!

Thanks again,
Xuyen Nguyen
I was stunned that someone from Peggle-land gave me a kudos about Peggle. It was like an angel visitation thanking me for paying my ten percent and giving me manna as a kind gesture.

So of course I reply back and this was our conversation:
Xuyen Nguyen,

I am delighted to hear from your comment on my peggle blog. How did you find it? If your offer for Peggle Nights still stands, I would love to take you up on it! Thank you!

And his response:

Someone on our customer service team actually discovered it and brought it to my attention (I do a of outreach to bloggers). Your story is fantastic! And I’m glad you ended up passing the class in the end ;)

Yes, we would love to send you a copy of Peggle Nights, and I would also love for you to join our exclusive invite-only blogger group! The group is intended to thank bloggers for blogging about us! It is extremely small and I would communicate with you periodically asking your input on new products and/or anything related to Peggle! Please let me know if you’re interested!
Of course I'm interested. So not only do I get a copy of Peggle Nights, but I'm now a member of this exclusive invite-only blogger extravaganza party-like-it's-1999 group! The moral of the story: Failing your stats class because of peggle pays off in the short and long run.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I want world peace through dancing.

Touched to tears.

Class Questionnaire v. 2.0

I sent out another survey to my Concert Band class today. They're a great group of kids who have played their way to MusicFest in Ottowa, Canada. It's like Nationals. Just think of your high school basketball team going to the National Championship. Yeah, it's a big deal. I want to go, they want to go, but we've got some things working against us. First, grad week is the same week as Nationals. Almost exactly half the class is not willing to miss out on grad week. Second, we have to raise a lot of money. That's even bigger than the first hurtle, and it will take a lot of work. The last question was this:

Do you support the Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good and Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too?
Here are the results (my stats class paid off, can you tell?):
78% or 46 students responded Yes
15% or 9 students responded No
2% or 1 student responded Maybe
5% or 3 students did not vote

I wonder why the nine students responded no. And why was that one student iffy. And three didn't even care??? What gives?
Here are some comments:
  • them center would have to be 3 times bigger!
  • I highly support derek Zoolander's center, but it's way to small! what is this, a center for ants?
  • your a chimp
  • I have no idea what that is!
  • Thursday, October 9, 2008


    I love people who are passionate about the things they do. There is something about them that just exudes life. It's easy to see passionate people as they really are because you are actually seeing their true selves, not just a facade. And their connections are much deeper. Just a few people that I know that exemplify this:

    Austin Craig
    Dave Peterson
    Melanie Orton
    Nathan Robbins
    Logan Bradford
    Ryan Darton
    Kara Stowers
    Crystal Young-Otterstrom
    Colbi Crawford
    Kenji Hood

    Well I've been watching these inspiring talks on and of course, I've been inspired. What is ted about? Well they can explain it better than I can. But to try to sum it up, TED tries to make the world a better place by sharing ideas from our greatest thinkers. These people are world leaders in their fields. They love what they do and their drive, ambition, hard work and passion is changing the world. They are true, real and passionate. Some of their talks will outrage you, some of them will make you smile, all will leave you inspired.

    Wednesday, October 8, 2008

    6th Grade and Beyond

    I was thinking about 6th grade today (or as Canadians like to call it: Grade 6), mainly because I teach 6th grade band, my students are quite a handful and my thoughts were drawn to my 6th grade days with Mrs. Casdorph. Boy I hated her because of her inequality, ego, and ruthlessness. She felt she was entitled to teach without a formal degree in education because she was a mother. By the way, my parents wasted their money to send me to a private school where irrational thinking like that is allowed.

    She's actually a small reason why I'm teaching because even at that age, I thought I could do a better job than her. I hope I'm right. Sometimes I feel like I'm the Mrs. Casdorph in these kids' lives. I hate disciplining, I hate being a jerk, I hate being a hard case. There has to be another way. Thanks Mrs. Casdorph for teaching me life's valuable lessons.

    My 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Casdorph

    Thursday, September 25, 2008


    Things like this doesn't happen to people like me.

    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Sometimes I'm the rain on the parade

    I made a student cry the other day. I hate that feeling.

    Saturday, September 13, 2008

    Connecting the dots and Peggle

    Lately I've just been thinking about what has gotten me here, mainly because my students have been asking. It's been an intense and rockin' ride to see how things have unfolded. But with graduation which has just passed I have been thinking a lot along the lines of what Steve Jobs said to Stanford graduates a few years back.

    On another note, Conan O'Brien is my hero. He gives great advice too.  I only took his advice more fully the last year of college than all my other years in school.


    P.S. - Here's how I can connect the dots one little way to graduation.  I was addicted to Peggle earlier this year after being introduced to it from hanging out at Paul Louthan, and Nate and Matt Jorgenson's place.  I was skipping out on my Stats 221 class because as soon as I would wake up, I would play Peggle.  It then became apparent I wasn't going to pass Stats so I dedicated my final exam to Conan O'Brien.  In the testing center, I was feverishly filling in dots not even opening my test packet.  One can only wonder what the freshman sitting next to me was thinking.  

    My final exam score: 4%  My final Peggle score: 21,713,800

    Not suprisingly I got an E in the class.  So I take it again Spring Semester, hire a wonderful tutor to help me through the wretched course and I amazingly got a C-.  I thought I was going to fail again, Hayley worked a miracle...really.  I passed the class, I graduate with a minor in business management, and I become a Peggle Grand Master.  Yeah for me!

    Sunday, September 7, 2008


    You know what scares me?  When people talk about marriage.  It just does.

    Thursday, September 4, 2008

    So sad yet so funny

    Lately I've been reading garfield minus garfield and happily yet sadly, it's becoming more funny.  Is it because I long for a cat I don't have?  Is it because we share the common thread of living in perpetual singledom?  Is it because I'm the isolated young everyman?  Is it because I'm losing a battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet Canadian suburb?  Or is it because it's absolutely hilarious and it identifies and exposes something that very well could be each one of

    Wednesday, September 3, 2008

    Where do they come up with this???

    Today was awesome!  Even though we didn't even start getting to the nitty gritty~the music~I still had a blast getting to know the kids and vice-versa.  I made up a questionnaire for instrumentation, contact info, yada yada, but then I threw in a few random questions that I got with the help of my friend David Eff.  One of them, "What would you do for a million dollars?" produced the best results:
    • Invent something, get on a wild pony in the wild pony races @ rodeos
    • kiss michael jackson/pants him; pants a british guard 
    • run into a class and yell the loudest as can
    • sing with music in front of 100 people Then find a cure for cancer (both important)
    • play my worst insterment
    • Something that seems difficult then find a loophole
    • go and bye a monkey
    • catch a crocidial!
    • jump up and down patting my head and rubbing my tummy. (a million dollar feat!)
    • I would be a p orn  star  (I wonder what his parents would think, should I tell them?)
    • brak my leg
    • I would Jump of a Cliff
    • steal a million dollars (I think this one is clever)
    • I would Be a suicid Bomber (This one is brilliant!)
    • enter the lottery.
    • jump off a 6 foot cliff
    • marry someone rich
    • Kill someone if I had to wear a bow tie  (I had just barely told the class they have to wear bowties for concerts)
    • I don't care
    • Eat Raw Fish...?
    • A better question is what would you do for a klondike bar? (get a million dollars?)
    • quiz school and buy what ever I want (I think English is exactly what this student needs)
    • as little as possible
    • Fergie (This bright little mind would do anything!)
    And a two question favorite:

    What would you do for a million dollars?
    "buy the school board out"

    Why is music important to you?
    "Because I don't like it"

    On another note, tonight after a day of work driving back from Magrath I saw the city lights of Lethbridge appear and it was the first time genuinely feeling like I was coming home.  

    Tuesday, September 2, 2008

    First days

    I don't think any new step in life has kept me awake like this one has: My first day of teaching.  First day of kindergarten, first day in middle or high school, first day in college, my first day as a missionary, first day married...oh wait, that hasn't happened yet...none of these gave me the jeebers as much as my first day of teaching.  So after catching up and getting some assurances from my friends Kenji and Sarah Ruth, I laid there restless in bed.  My mind was racing about today!  It wasn't until after a ham sandwich, vanilla ice cream and an extremely healthy dose of facebook that I was able to fall 3:15 am.

    I've just gotta say, teaching in Canada is nothing like I saw it in the states. More respect from students, more appreciation from the community and more camaraderie from other teachers. The first day here for students is like new student orientation.  They come for an hour to get their schedules, lockers and meet the teachers (although mostly the high achievers ever get to talking to a teacher).  So tonight will be another sleepless night as I get ready for yet another first day of teaching, actually being with the kids. I'm incredibly excited, nervous, anxious and enthralled at this whole experience.

    There's a part of me that feels like this all of the time.