9/30/2007

Return of the electronic dictionary

I'm quite pleased at the moment. Allow me to explain why.

Several months ago, I borrowed an electronic Japanese dictionary (a Sharp PW-7000—an excellent dictionary) from a Japanese acquaintance of mine. She said that I was free to use it for the duration of my stay in Japan. I was pleased and I've enjoyed using this dictionary over the past several months and have found it extremely useful.

When I got it, I could barely find my way around its functions, but I've learned how to use it quite well. I've also began the slow move from using the English-Japanese dictionary to using Kojien, the Japanese-Japanese dictionary because the definitions of words are quite superior. However, Kojien is chock full of difficult kanji, so there are limits, of course, to my understanding of it, so I'm not yet prepared to cut the English-Japanese strings just yet. (Interestingly, that they can read Kojien with almost no problems might be the largest reason that I envy the Asian students' inherent proficiency with kanji. I love reading Kojien and being able to do so is one of my biggest goals in studying Japanese, I think. (That's right, Sharkbait, here I am lookin' to read the dictionary again.))

But the thing is, it was used when I received it, and my further heavy use of it has degraded its buttons to the point to where, recently, I became unable to either power it on or off. And only those two buttons were affected—the on and off buttons. The only way to use it was to hit the reset button with something pointed and then wait for it to auto-power off when I was done.

Weak.

So I began worrying that I'd have to plop down some money to get a new one. I actually tried prying it apart once to see what I could do, but I reached a point where I didn't feel comfortable ripping it apart anymore (since it wasn't mine) and gave up. The other day, I explained the condition of the dictionary to its owner and she said that she'd give the dictionary to me permanently.

Thus, armed with my fresh ownership rights, tonight I pried it open and removed the keypad and, after some testing, found that the problem was actually with the pads on the back of those two buttons and not with the circuitry. Cleaning them didn't help. So I thought for a few minutes and rummaged through my main desk drawer for something that I might be able to use as alternative pads and, luckily, found a couple of those small anti-slide pads that you put on the bottom of objects. I tested them and they fit the bill perfectly. They had an adhesive on the back of them, so I attached them to the back of the on and off buttons and put everything together again and found that everything worked just right. I can now power my dictionary on and off with no problem. And the buttons are quite (even unnaturally) firm to boot. (I did, however, knock the cable for the sound loose. Which I don't care at all about, fortunately.)

I feel quite satisfied about the results of all of this. Not having a reliable denshi jisho is a real pain sometimes.

So ... I now own an electronic dictionary. Excellent. The model's a few years old and, by modern standards, it might be a bit bare bones, but it's quite solid.

9/27/2007

公園での勉強 | Studying at the park

今日の午後、近くの公園で2時間ほど勉強した。人はサッカーを練習していた一人しかいなくて、静かだった。でも、私が勉強しながら二人の若い男の子に話しかけられて短い話をした。子どもの話はわかりにくい!だけど、外国人でも話してくれたね。

Today I studied for a couple of hours at the park. There was only a guy there kicking around a soccer ball for a while, but a couple of young boys arrived and trotted right up to me and said hi, so I briefly chatted with them. Pretty quiet week, over all.

9/26/2007

Chalkboard

I'm about to head out to teach an English class. Which reminds me of this shot that I took of our chalkboard a couple of weeks ago or so.

Image © 2007 Jonathan's Japan Journal


A student of mine was trying to convince me that the sentence would be better as "Yeah, but I think I wore out her welcome." While I can see where she's coming from, most folks say "my," I believe. Anyway, things got a bit complicated on the board.

9/25/2007

一人での静かな一日

静か。私の寮に誰もいないかのような静かさ。待たずに洗濯機を使えたし。いい感じ。午後中掃除していたが、掃除していたといっても完全にできたってワケじゃない。だって、ほこりに進入されつづけていて掃除をする気になかなかならないんだ。ほこりとの戦争を勝てそうにない。だけど、この言葉を打ちながらドアも窓も開いているんだ。私のアホ。

日本語能力試験2級に申し込んだが、今日、試験情報パンフレットを見ると1級を申し込むべきだったと思った。2級に受かるのには400点で240点以上が必要だそうだ。今の私なら少なくても240点が取れるだろうと思うから、挑戦して1級の試験を受けたくなったが、もう1級に申し込めないし、1級を受けてみても落ちたら何ももらえないから、この考えをほうっておく。私なんて1級に合格できるワケないし!でも、来年1級の合格を目的にして勉強しよう!

もう夜になったので、これからドアを開けっぱなしに過ごすワケないね。蚊が入ると困るから。

9/22/2007

The end of B class

Well, my sixth term here has ended in a flurry of farewell dinners, a bit of karaoke, goodbyes, and tears. Yesterday, I had to tell many folks goodbye, including Lee, my friend and go rival. Today, it was Kaku, whose disappearance the entire school will feel. Tomorrow, it will be Melody. Shoot, man.

I somehow ended the term with an A-minus in the term, though I was expecting a B. With this, I exit upper-intermediate classes and enter the advanced level. Only five folks from my class of 15 will still be around, so the next term's atmosphere should be fairly different. The next term will likely be my last, and I'll be focusing a bit more on studying for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test and on making the best of my remaining time here.

In good news, my friend Yamamoto is back in town! It's great having him back around again too. It'll make this final three months a lot better for me.

修辞疑問

なんで「地殻」と「地核」の読み方が同じなのか?
ちょっとわかりにくいんじゃないか?

「修辞疑問」と書いたんだけど、実はちょっと文句。(笑)

9/18/2007

Music Corner

このサイトも右側にごらんになれば、新しいものが見えますね。今日、三河おっさんのブログとBikenglishさんのブログと同じように、Music Corner(ミュージックコーナー)をスタートすることにしました。ときどき、皆さんにいろいろな曲を紹介しようと思っていますから、新しい曲があるか、たまにチェックしてくださいね!

まず、アメリカのソールとルズムアンドブルースの有名なオールディーズを流そうと思います。おすすめです!ご存知の曲はありますかな?

If you take a gander at the right side of this page, you'll see that there is little widget called Music Corner in which you can listen to some songs that I've selected. My first selections are America Soul/R&B classics that I particularly enjoy. Keep an eye out time to time for few songs!

9/17/2007

明日、大事な試験

明日の朝に最後の大事な試験があるから、今勉強中。この試験でできるだけいい点をとりたいから、ちゃんと復習している。最近、あまり勉強しなくなっているような気がするけど、大きい問題はないみたいだ。僕なりに頑張ろう!

9/16/2007

雨だぜ

今日、雨が降っている。これからは友達との約束だけど、降られたくないな。(笑)

9/13/2007

ミクシィの退会

さっきまでミクシィというソーシャル・ネットワーキング・ウェブサイトのアカウントを持っていたけど、退会することにした。数ヶ月前に、誘われたから入会したけど、あまり興味がなかった。最近、知り合いと連絡するために使うようになったけど、一人二人とはもう普通のメールで連絡をとり合っているし、もう一人とはミクシィで連絡をとり合わなくなったみたいなので、退会した。僕はそんなサイトに向いていないタイプだからね。

訂正:一人だけじゃなくて、最近ミクシィでできたもう一人の新しい知り合いも含めれば二人になる。失礼した!

9/11/2007

Japanese word of the day: 辻斬り

辻斬り 【つじぎり】 [tsujigiri] (n) killing a passerby in order to test a new sword

Typical Japanese TV?

A while ago on TV, there was a pretty good selection of shows that are fairly representative of Japanese television:

Foreign movie
Historical drama
Baseball
Variety show
Variety show
News
Travel(-like)

Perhaps all that was missing was anime and cooking.

I wonder if reality shows are still all the rage in America ...

Yes! | やった!

Hurrah! I spoke with my parents today and one of my biggest worries about my stay here was laid to rest. Also, I haven't been able to speak with my parents much recently and it was pretty emotionally rejuvenating to do so. I'm trying to be online more to speak with my friends back home too. It sounds like they're dying to have me back as much I am to be back.

Classes were exceptionally boring today, but outside of that, I felt better than I have been recently. Tomorrow's the school-wide ability test, though, so I'm a bit concerned about that, but I think it should be fine even though I didn't study for it. (D'oh!)

今朝両親と話したところ、最近の一つの大きな心配がなくなったみたいということがわかった。やっと安心!あとの3ヶ月はもう少しやさそうになった。

明日、また毎学期末の実力試験を受ける。この試験のために勉強しなかったけど、問題ないと思う。

すごく眠い…。

9/10/2007

TMNT

You may rest easy knowing that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles say "Cowabunga!" even over here. Heh. Yeah, a new series from America is being broadcast over here. Are they experiencing a new surge in popularity in America or something? Classic stuff, the Turtles.

Quick and boring update

Been a few days, eh?

Life is basically the same as always, though it's really feeling a lot more stale of late for the most part. The past two or three weeks have been pretty rough for me psychologically, mainly due to some pieces of unpleasant news from back home that I'm having to deal with alone. Frankly, it's really led me to feel more like just returning home at the end of my stint at Yamasa. I've pretty much decided that, under my current circumstances, I'd be best served just returning home at the end of the year (probably) and not worry about finding employment here.

So what's up, you ask?

Well, last Saturday, I went to a sensei's wedding after-party in Nagoya with some classmates, which was pretty entertaining. (We got lost on the way and were late, but fortunately arrived before the festivities started.) I rarely go to Nagoya, so it was a nice treat to go—decked out in a suit, at that. It was a pretty activity-filled couple of hours. After the party, I walked the other attending sensei to her motorbike and, thus, got to see some of the city at nighttime and learned a little bit about temples and shrines too (since we walked right by Osu-Kannon). I then saw another sensei on the train back to Okazaki, which was nice.

Sunday, I had three get-togethers to balance, at which I failed. In trying not to rudely rush too quickly out of the second appointment (with a former sensei), I ended up staying too long and screwed up the time for the next appointment that I was most looking forward to and, thus, managed to piss off someone who was counting on me more than I knew to show up right on time. I didn't mean to, but I dropped the ball on that one.

This morning, I woke up at four in the morning and couldn't get back to sleep, so I sat at my computer and typed an e-mail or two and chatted with my mother and some friends back home in America for a while. At school, I was in a questionable mood for a while but my friends managed to help pull me out of it. I found myself more sleepy than I've ever been in class at school today. I was actually nodding off very slightly. But I made it through the day all right.

This week, I've got a lot going on: a school-wide ability test on Wednesday, my English class on Wednesday, and the radio show on Friday. And backed-up homework, of course. I suppose that, in a sense, this is good. Idle hands and all.

9/07/2007

Karaoke, Korean food, and more

Tonight, I went to dinner at a nearby Korean restaurant with some classmates and two sensei for a going-away party for one of us who got a job in a computer-related field in Nagoya. (He's actually already working.) I wasn't in much of a party mood for the first part of it but I my mood brightened fairly quickly and I had a very good time.

We actually had a lot of amusing cross-cultural conversations during the evening. We exchanged tongue-twisters, for one. (I offered three: Peter Piper, chucking-woodchucks, and the seashell-selling girl.) I explained that McDonald's is often called "Mickey D's" by some folks in America, and I learned that the convenience store 7-11 is just called "seven" in Taiwan. ("Let's meet at seven" then has two meanings, I suppose.)

After we left the restaurant, we stood outside for a while and one particular Taiwanese friend, who speaks very little English, regaled me with a tale of how, at a job once, a customer asked for "an adapter" and she thought he was asking for "a doctor" and so replied, "Are you sick?" The customer expressed displeasure and she called for her superior, who took care of the situation and, apparently, kind of chided my friend a bit. My friend, after that, went to an English teacher of some sort and said, "I need to learn English." But she stopped after only two months. "I have no talent for English," she said. "I hate English." Yet, I replied, she had just told me that entire story in English. We spoke English for the rest of the bicycle ride back to our apartments.

But anyway.

Before that, I decided to go to karaoke with four Taiwanese friends of mine. (Them Taiwanese folk sure do love them some karaoke, hoo-boy!) I tried singing "Yume," the Hiromi Iwasaki song that I said I like in my previous post, but I'm not familiar enough with it yet to do it well. I sang a few songs, though, that I never had before. (Oh, by the way, I tried my hand as Enimem's "FACK" a few weeks ago, the last time I went to karaoke. My friend Yo, who speaks English well, was there and glanced at me oddly during the song once or twice. Heh.)

Before that, I was with another Taiwanese friend in a classroom at school for a while today, and she asked me where I was from. Houston, Texas, I replied. She got up to find it on the world map behind us. "Houston is about ... here?" she asked. I buried my face in my hands. A few seconds later, she realized that Houston, Texas probably wasn't in the southwestern part of Canada.

We had a good laugh over that.

I'm glad that today was good and smooth. Yesterday afternoon and evening were immensely unpleasant for me and the effects to my mood lingered into class this morning, but my sensei this morning, of all people, managed to get me in a good mood with a little bit of horseplay between classes. She rocks.

And now, here's my long-time classmate Neo with a little trick that he performed for us. Don't try this at home, kids!



Flame on!

9/06/2007

岩崎宏美 | Hiromi Iwasaki

この間、ある友達が岩崎宏美という歌手を僕に紹介してくれた。得に「夢」という歌が気に入ったんだけど、「思秋期」の1977年の演奏を皆さんに紹介しようと思う。いい雰囲気だ!と。

The following video is of Hiromi Iwasaki, a Japanese pop star of the 1970s, it seems. I was recently introduced to her by a friend and I'd thought that I'd post a video of her here for the heck of it. My favorite song of hers is "Yume" but this one, "Shishuki," is nice too. I like this style of music.



ってこと。

9/03/2007

もともとのトランスフォーマーの紹介!

最近のトランスフォーマーの話があったけどさ、本物のアメリカの昔のアニメをビデオでちょっと紹介しようと思ってる。下のビデオはそのシリーズのオープニングテーマだった。有名!



私は80年代にあまり見たことなかったけど、男の子としてカッコイイぜ!と思わないわけにいかなかった。(笑)僕世代の人はよくこのシリーズを懐かしく思うと僕は思う。でも、おもちゃをもとにして作ったシリーズで、かなりバカだったと認めるよ。(笑)でも、80年代にアニメのトランスフォーマー映画があってそりゃかなり面白くて愛してファンが多い。ノスタルジアだろう。

自分の見えない将来

クリスマスの頃にヒューストンに帰ろうと思っています。もともとの計画は来年の3月末まで勉強するのでしたが。

私は日本語がこれほど話せるようになって嬉しいです。学校の先生方に感謝しています。でも、私はまだまだです。これから日本語が上手になるには、学校より日本社会で働いたり生活を送ったりしたほうがやさそうに見えると思います。私は独学のタイプなのですが、一年半前に「何よりも日本語を習いたい!」と思って2年間も日本で勉強することにしたのです。大学を休学したりして、お金を全部かけて日本まで来ています。

私は主に日本語に興味を勉強したいですが、もちろん日本文化にも興味があります。私の日本や日本語に対する勉強はまだまだ終わらないものですから、学校を出てからの人生を最近よく考えます。日本の現在文化はアメリカより私向きかもしれないと思ったことがある反面、アメリカに帰って住んでいきたいと思っているようです。やはり、アメリカも日本も、いい点もあれば悪い点もあるでしょう。できれば日本で就職してみようか、それともアメリカに帰ってしまおうか迷っているようです。

「この人生は、どう過ごしたい?」「これからどうすればいいのか?」というのは、私にとって答えにくいようですね。でも、答えがいつか出ると期待していますから、考え続けます。でも、私は考えすぎやすいタイプですから、あまりそうしないようにしておきます。(笑)

9/02/2007

出かけたいけど

行く所を考えずに電車に乗ってどこかへ行きたい。
でも一人で行くのも詰まらないし、ちょっと勉強すべきだな、と。
I'm feeling fidgety.

Update, 7:52 PM. Ended up studying a decent bit today.
今日、本腰を入れて勉強してた。

Transformers

Today, I met up with my buddy Tom and hung out a bit before heading to see Tranformers at the new movie theater in the area. The theater was a bit more similar to American theaters than I expected. Not sure what I was expecting, though. The biggest difference by far was that at the time that you buy your ticket, you select and reserve a seat as well. No free seating. Interesting.

The disappointment of the evening was the movie itself. Transformers is a ridiculous and surprisingly boring movie. I mean, my good friends back home whose tastes I trust told me that it was pretty stupid, but I didn't expect it to be quite this lame. As a bit of a nostalgic fans of the '80s Transformers series and from a more objective, intelligent standpoint, I feel this movie is a failure. I don't recall sitting through a movie during which I actually thought "Man, this is painful." I wanted to leave. Tom didn't care for it either, so maybe we should have. It was abrasive to me.

This should sum it all up.

Transformers: my impression of the movie


The next time that I want to watch a Transformers movie, I'll watch the animated one from the 1980's.

But other than the movie, I had a lot of fun tonight.