April 26, 2007

Panorama shots

My cheap camera rocks. Also, thank goodness for photoshop gallery automation. In this photodump: A birthday with absenthe, an Inari shrine, and an old hotel you know.

Wish I would have done that before...

Lots of people seem to hate the JET programme's free language books. Mostly cause there is a list of words in each chapter, and the book tells you to find the definitions yourself. I came to appreciate it though; typing all those words into the wwwjdic site got me used to typing in Japanese, and helped me memorize which words have long vowels.
Last month I tried something new; I checked off the words I knew and studied the words I had learned up to that point in the book each day. I really wish I would have started doing that before this month's book (it being the last). Oh well, there is always the translator's course I will probably take next year.
Anyways, it was a bit of a time cruncher, so there were a couple chapters I didn't do this for. I also started scribbling out the furigana above the words to make sure I completely knew words before checking them off.
BTW, no more essays to subject you to, cause the last book doesn't have that sort of test. However, I may well try doing a sort of language-blog exchange with my gf; having her correct me through skype was most helpful.


This was my advice to a guy that has people in school only call him by his first name. What do you think? Is the whole calling foreigners by their first name thing disrespectful?
I said:
Actually, I think it is disrespectful. Let me guess, 9 times out of ten they don't bother to affix an honorative to your name, such as さん or 先生. They want to set you apart because you are foreign.
The compromise I reached was to have everyone call me Mr. B. I explained this is how we handle teacher's names in America. Therefore, it's easy for them and I feel like I am getting some respect.
Now, it's gonna be an uphill battle, but here is my plan for you. Start an English radio show on the annoucements at your school, and make sure the teachers room can hear it too. Do the show during lunch.
One of the first things you will talk about is how to properly address a teacher in an American school. Then say, "だから、今から、君たちは僕にミスタXとよんでくれませんか?" and follow up with how it is rude to call a teacher by their first name, even for other teachers.
Also introduce yourself on the show each time as "Mr. X". Correct students and teachers every time. Soon, with luck, they may learn. But don't count on it for your current students.

EDIT: sorry I had to hide the comments; I am starting to get paranoid about my last name being online!

April 25, 2007

Which season do I like?

Another essay for my secret masters. Feel free to laugh, as long as you point out what's wrong where.



It just keeps going up

I love being an egomaniac.
From the chat logs:

J: dude i just noticed you're now up to 308 subscribers
me: yeah
I'll make a self-congradulating video soon
J: your subscribers demand it to be so

April 24, 2007

Have snorkel, will mail

This is pretty cool, and has inspired me to make a trip (does anyone know if you need training to snorkel in Japan?). One can send mail underwater off the coast of Wakayama.
on Japan's southeast coast, there exists an underwater mailbox. It's not a sunken relic that now serves as an artificial reef. Rather, it's an actual, working mail collection point officially recognized as part of Susami's postal system. Evidently, the mailbox is 33 feet beneath the water, and divers are required to use special waterproof plastic postcards. Each day, the contents are collected from the box, which reportedly contains as many as 200 pieces of mail on the busy days.

Not that far away, Malaysia's Reef Dive Resort has set up what it believes to be that country's first underwater mailbox. Any mail sent through this mailbox is sealed inside plastic bags and is postmarked with a special stamp.

Read the whole article.
And while you are there, why not use an edible, squid-flavored post stamp?

April 23, 2007

How to legalize it

I don't smoke the wacky weed, but for years I've been wondering why juries convict people that do. Why? Because juries have the right to judge a law or sentence unfair. It's why prohibition didn't stick. Anyways, I found an article that reminded me of this principal, and it warmed my semi-libertarian heart. Read.
Also, I've wondered why medical marijauna cannot be administered in pill form. What's the deal with that?

Your word of the day

屁理屈 (herikutsu) means sophistry, quibble, or nonsense. 理屈 means theory, and 屁 means fart. I find this very funny, because if you say someone is a 屁理屈屋 (herikutsuya, or sophist), you are saying they are full of hot air in more ways than one.

April 17, 2007

Which is more complicated, Japanese or English?

Every once in a while, a Japanese person will pose this question to me. They always seem flabbergasted that I think English is more complicated. Actually, I try to clarify that I think English is much easer to learn. Learning Japanese often feels like learning four or five languages at once.
To learn Japanese, you have to cover:
  • Two sylaballaries
  • about 2,000 standard Chinese characters
  • maybe about 1,000 more if you want a specialized job
  • stroke order, if you want to be able to write
  • the multiple readings for Chinese characters
  • the local dialect
  • familiarity with major dialects
  • slang
  • common punchlines
  • old Japanese is a plus
  • idioms are a plus
  • Humble, middle, and honorific language
  • How to juggle in-group to out-group speech
  • Katakana words from other languages
  • Learning which words are too technical/archaic to be used (often after you have already memorized them).

    So I think it's a challenge to learn Japanese in the first place. But I still think the grammar is ridiculously simple. Only two verbs in the entire language are irregular. The spelling is fairly simple. And most of the elements reinforce each other. I am actually thankful for kanji, cause sometimes it's the only way I remember a word's meaning, and there can be nice nuance communicated through them (見るvs.観る for example).
    Anyways, I don't really think I need to go into why English is harder. But I will share this link with you. Maybe you'll see my point through it.
  • Lessons

    Long ago, I was an art teacher. I was also the pottery teacher, but I've never been good at throwing. It was like "Wow that's... better than anthing I can do! Okay!"
    My first session, which was a short visit of a couple weeks, went pretty well. I made one, I feel, major mistake during my second session, which was a whole semester split between two schools. My mistake was following the lead of the real teacher and being a disciplinarian. Hardcore. I punished bad students, albiet half-heartedly. I think the students could sense I wasn't really feeling as strict as I acted, and it was not exactly smooth going.
    Then I got to the junior high and leared that 1)most rules are arbitrary and should be ignored 2)ultimatums are a stupid thing to utter, cause if you follow through half you class could end up in detention that period, or you could just undermine your own athority if you don't follow through (for this reason don't be a disciplinarian in the first place, you have to follow through from then on) 3)Special ed students love you; regular students hate their lives and project that on to you.
    So, I feel I am a much better teacher these days. I don't discipline; it's actually a very interesting experiment, this Japanese Education system. I don't really reward either, beyond a "your team won!" There is some guy I learned about in pedagogy classes that advocated this system. Basically, students will learn if they want to, and that is what happens here.
    Also along nostalgic lines, today on my "radio show" I will teach the students how to use "in'it", just like my Native American students used to do.

    April 14, 2007

    A vid response to my invitation

    This is a response to one of my vids. I thought it was intentionally hilarious; the interaction between the mom and kids. You'll see.

    April 10, 2007

    Japanese Tradition Videos Still Comin Out?!

    I've shown this playlist before, but it is now updated to include all Japanese Tradition vids I could find.

    Thanks to Reda for bringing it to my attention.

    April 9, 2007

    Via Ben's deft skills

    Ben has an a-typical digital camera these days. He built is using the parts of an ancient accordian camera and a modern scanner. There is over a hundred years difference in age between the two, but the results are quite cool. I messed with the contrast a little, so see his blog if you wanna see originals.
    Here we have the group back together. I am the one with the puppy.

    A man standing next to the newly-weds stares with skepticism at two ghosts.

    Another group shot. I know I am overpoweringly sexy, but please, no more fan mail.

    Lastly, this is not a Ben-produced image, but rather a panorama my new digital camera put together. I bought a cheap HP Photosmart. Mainly for the panorama functionality. Too bad blogger seems to shrink these so much, even in their linked-to forms.

    Return to the adopted mother land

    I am back in Japan. It smells much like I remember.