March 30, 2008

Obligatory what are you doing Clay answer

The time has come to make a "today I ate a sandwich" entry. Actually, come to think of it I had a turkey sandwich the other day, which was exciting because there is almost no turkey in this country. Unfortunately, it was smoked turkey, which apparently tastes exactly like ham. I took the sandwich back to the stand where I bought it to double check that it wasn't ham. They swore it was.
But that was a large sandwich digression. What I am up to: I am currently looking into language schools. I am most likely going to one in Saitama that the mysterious James helped me find. There are a couple cheaper schools, but most never replied to my email and I am a bit weary of calling directly. Cause my language sucks. So I am wondering if I can really pull off an 1kyu this year. Gotta decide by the time I fill out my application. Today was supposed to be a super-burn-through-my-Anki-deck day, but I got distracted by Google reader and youtube. So I ended up unsubscribing from a bunch of stuff.I also would have liked to go on another long bike ride but the weather was preventing it. Photos later.
I am also having a complicated love thing, but am quite content to leave it be. Cause I need to study and get a visa and apply to schools.
Shout-outs to Steph and Jon for bugging me into a sandwich post. More shout-outs to thehill88 for inflating my ego. I need that in uncertain times.

March 21, 2008

Simple request/Help!

Japan, when you write words, would you please choose to write them in either all kanji (barring okurigana) or all kana? 絵はがき can lead to a bit of confusion, and looks silly to me. What did the brat have to do with the picture? Oh...
Got this response back from a language school which I've tried to interpret, but I'm not sure what they are going on about. I want to switch to a student VISA, so that's what I wrote them about. Do you have a better interpretation?:
Why is it thought to be impossible to go from work to school, pretell? Are you talking about my VISA inquiry?
This one is odd. I have to have a guarantor from Chiba-ken? You don't believe I have money, or is this a bit of VISA advice?
Okay, I would think you are used to dealing with student VISA questions, but I'll try to find these people.

March 18, 2008

Spring is starting

I finally got a working bike and rode up into the mountains to take in spring. Spring mountains always restore my love of Japan. Highlights included meeting the old woman, impressing some kids, and seeing the old man after a long time.
The old woman used to run a restaurant on the banks of the 蛍の里 (firefly village). Now she spends her time drawing and writing poetry about flowers. She talked briefly of her "darling". I told her she has a nice life, and I mean it. All the interior shots are from her home/restaurant.

Blue fields are breathing their jade to the sun....
And a moment that ought to have lasted forever
Has come and gone before I knew.

--李商隱 Li Shangyin

Now you're a ramen man!

There are sociology and cultural lessons everywhere if one looks (and has the time to make stuff up). Case in point: ramen!

The third-years are gone, and a lot of teachers are eating lunch in the teachers room with us regulars today. The odd thing I've noticed is that almost all the rough, male teachers (ones that are less likely to wear business clothes and opt for things like track suits--no administration teachers) are all eating cup ramen with their meals. I have a couple theories why this could be happening (no proof at all here):
First, eating something beyond the main meal proves you are a virile male able to consume great quantities. Secondly, they are expressing their freedom, which kinda also ties into the maleness. Next, they gotta show up the other guys when they see ramen being consumed. A culinary pulling out of the rulers if you will. Plus, often in Japan, people follow rituals to be a part of the group and establish their identity. Even ramen eating can be a ritual in this society.

They can't do things like eat ramen in the classroom (students would feel shafted). Maybe they even get nagged for eating ramen at home due to it's junk food rep. So these special occasions are when the ramen comes out and the ritual of noodle-manhood begins with a manly "su-su-su" slurp.

I was just discussing my reasoning with a non-ramen teacher. He kinda followed me on the manliness, but he doesn't think being free has much to do with manliness (this could be due to my misunderstanding of what 自由 really means). I made the case that wild-men (kind of a set phrase here) are free. But it could be the opposite. They might not be free; they are locked into the ritual and group-mind. To do any less would be... unmanly. Free or not, I feel like it ties into the male essence.

I just thank heaven I decided to wear jeans today* so I can keep up. Not that they consider me part of the group anyways.
*I came knowing I would have no classes today. I wear business casual usually.

March 17, 2008

Rollplaying in the inaka

I don't know if I invented it just now, but the non-standard spelling "roll-playing" should be used to avoid confusion when asking friends if they roleplay.
As you can imagine, the country-side affords no opportunities for roll-playing, but I may be getting some foreigners that are interested; I talked with some new people the other night.
D&D and roll-playing have a following here (well not here but elsewhere in Japan). There are transcripts of game sessions published and widely read. Even manga and anime have sprung up from D&D sessions (more here).
I am quite excited about 4th ed. D&D; a bit of a shame Gary Gaigax died recently and couldn't live to complain about it a bit. "In my day, we didn't have Cheetos or mountain dew and we liked it!"
Here's some exhibition game character sheets for the new edition. I kinda miss sorcerers for flavor reasons...

March 13, 2008

With a cameo by Clay

I'm towards the end. And I think my voice is in the chorus somewhere...

New Japanese name

When I came to Japan, I was given a hanko (personal seal) that was printed 久鈴. I turns out that kurei (Clay) is one possible reading of this name. I usually just go with katakana when I write my name, but sometimes I wonder if I might have opportunities to switch to my Japanese name on occasion. One hurdle is most Japanese people don't know how to read this combo. Another is I can't decide if "long-ringing bell/bell of the old story"* is cool or not. So I think 久嶺 (ridges of the old story/long-lasting peaks) might be better.
What's your Japanese name? I remember long ago I did a plug-in memeish thing to get a name and shared it here on the blog. After I got to Japan I learned it was a girl's name.

*:A couple approximations of meaning one could conceivable make up; ultimately there is no meaning.

March 10, 2008

Existential that, bub

I used to get lonely. Now I think living in a mountain farmhouse would be an ideal existence a lot of the time. Am I a living cautionary tale?
So I am supposed to be an art teacher. That's the backup career. But I am really supposed to be an artist and writer. However, I subscribe to the philosophy that more stuff and a well-paying career won't really raise happiness levels, so I concentrate on being happy as a ESL face.

I have been thinking recently that I surf too much when I should be drawing, writing or studying. Doing something to exercise my talents. Entertaining 14 year olds on youtube doesn't count.

My jaw is clenching even more than the other day. Still wondering if it is stress, or worrying about the future that is doing that to me. Could be unregisterd loneliness stress Today I'll probably apply to a language school...

March 7, 2008

Clenched up

I keep finding myself in moments where I have been clenching my teeth together hard and not realizing it until the pressure sensation snaps me out of it. I wonder what's going on. Maybe it's stress of some sort? Why just recently?

March 4, 2008

Avocado coal walking manga irrelevance!

Time to take a couple vacation days

I don't want to go to a graduation ceremony again. They are cold and long and full of sappy songs and people crying, which makes me cry, even though I think it is silly that we are crying. I can hear the chorus practicing today and it fills me with dread. Dread I tell you. Soon they will get to the part where they speak in unison. The horror...

March 3, 2008

Adding Japanese emoticons to your Mac's dropdown menu

This is a pretty easy trick, but I have a Japan-bought computer, so your mileage may vary (all Macs are probably made in Taiwan anyways).
So open the menu on the finder bar up top and choose the following "register words" option:
At which point you should get the input options below. I wanted to have the word for dog, いぬ, come up as ▽・ェ・▽, so I copy pasted it from a website and put いぬ next to the よみ input. Finally, I chose to have it listed as a 無品詞, because it's not actually a part of speech.
Then I click that button at the very bottom and check to make sure it now shows up as an option when I type いぬ. Low and behold:
Pretty easy trick. You can find more kaomoji here or here. This post was inspired by reading this blog post, which is how to do it in Vista in case you are not a Mac person. I thought, how hard can that be to do on a Mac? And a minute later it was done.