10 more

Here are 10 more interesting visitors to Metrolingua:

Puerto Rico
United Arab Emirates
South Africa
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic

Even though Puerto Rico is near the U.S. and Puerto Ricans aren't rare here, I was still surprised to see it listed. More surprised than seeing China listed, probably because I don't hang out with as many Puerto Ricans as I do Chinese people. And I totally love Spanish--it's my favorite language, though I've never written about it here.


Some interesting guests

Here are some of the interesting guests who've visited Metrolingua:

Trinidad and Tobago
Saudi Arabia
Slovak Republic

I'll post more later. I figure it's easier to injest that data in small chunks.

Hopefully, by the end of the day, some information I obtained will be posted over at the Kraftwerk fan site. It's post-worthy here because of the nerdiness of the acquisition process.



It's official: Metrolingua has gotten over 10,000 unique visitors in a few months. Not hits, not visits; 10,000 different people have walked through the Metrolingua doors. People have come from all around the world, from at least 70 countries. At a later time, I'll share some of the more surprising countries, but right now I have an appointment with Japanese (translation work).


Karin rules

Karin Gillespie deserves a special mention here because of her great blog about writing and marketing, and the incredible care she has for people. I think she is the most generous writer on the web. I've never seen anyone who is willing to offer so much information, respond to every comment and every email, and maintain a consistently friendly, warm tone in her writing.

She wrote Bet Your Bottom Dollar, which is a fictional story set in the South, and has written another novel that is going to be released this summer. She's also finished writing a couple more novels, on top of doing a column, a promotional tour, marketing, networking, and posting to her blog every day! I don't know how she does it all, while maintaining a good attitude.

People like her are so rare, especially those who've been able to work in their dream vocation, because usually the success goes to their head or they're too busy to notice the humanity around them. If I had any kind of "important position," I'd help her out in some way, but all I can do is let people know that she exists.

If you're interested (again)

I've posted a translation of a Rush article before, and I've just posted another one. Unfortunately, the link to the original Portuguese article in Brazil is no longer available.


I'm not a man...

...but I like Men's Pocky. It's just one of many odd Japanese snacks, made of pretzels and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate denotes a "man's taste," I guess.

It even has weird English on the box: "Crispy pretzel dipped in dark chocolate for the type of person who enjoys the finer points in life."

One site added some of their own strange English (despite being located in the U.S.) to advertise the tasty treat: "The Men's Pocky is for the dark chocolate lovers. This tasty biscuit stick is dipped with dark chocolate. A delicious snack for you to enjoy at any time!"

Whenever I go to a Japanese store way out in the 'burbs, I also get Milk Tea. It has even weirder English:

"This is special blend tea for sensitive people and make a fantastic story. Welcome to Tea paradise."

I need to make another run up to the 'burbs to be a Man in Paradise.


The arrogant IBM yuppie

I've been trying to figure out for a long time who that arrogant yuppie is in the IBM commercials, and I've gotten my answer: he's Richard Speight, Jr. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look at his picture. He's the guy on the left, on the cell phone. The dude in the glasses captures the arrogant vibe too, but Speight has really got it down.

You can see him in action in the "Carry On" ad. He's the guy on the left, who says, "On a plane to Tokyo." You can read the transcript of that ad and other ads he's been in.

His delivery is funny, as if he's thinking, "Oh the commoners. Why must we tolerate them?" as he's looking down his nose at passersby in a Paris cafe or at a French chick in the company's Paris branch.

An article about the ad campaign says, "Sean, Richard and Denver are 'colleagues' who typify IBM customers."


“They seem to have chemistry together...They have a banter. It's shorthand. People relate to that.”

I don't relate, but I find the ads entertaining.

Speight was in a short independent film five years ago, where his accent was noticeably more southern (he's from Tennessee). I don't know if he chose to speak like that in the film, but it certainly wouldn't fit the arrogant yuppie role he plays so well.


Afraid of failure?

I found a good article called "Overcoming the Fear of Failure," which says, "The Law of Feedback states: there is no failure; there is only feedback. Successful people look at mistakes as outcomes or results, not as failure. Unsuccessful people look at mistakes as permanent and personal."

It lists the following steps you can take to overcome your fear (if you happen to be in that situation right now):

Step One: Take action.

Step Two: Persist.

Step Three: Don’t take failure personally.

Step Four: Do things differently.

Step Five: Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Step Six: Treat the experience as an opportunity to learn. Ask yourself these questions:

(1) What was the mistake?
(2) Why did it happen?
(3) How could it have been prevented?
(4) How can I do better next time?

Then use what you learned from the experience to do things differently so you get different results next time. Learn from the experience or ignore it.

Step Seven: Look for possible opportunities that result from the experience.

Step Eight: Fail forward fast.

The article goes into more detail and there are also motivational quotes at the site.


Helpful JLPT site

If you're like me, you're already buried deep in kanji and those glorious idioms, in an attempt to pass the Japanese Proficiency Test. This site has tips and links that will help you achieve that goal.

He says, "Learning Japanese is not like learning French."

Um, yeah, that's true. Just try studying Japanese for a couple days and you'll be running back to French in no time. But seriously, he does have good advice such as:

"The vocabulary section is, surprisingly, more difficult than the kanji section. If you're like me, you have a lot of trouble remembering onomatopoeic words like harahara, dokidoki, etc. If you just try to memorise the meaning of each word, you may find that you do not retain them well, or that you get confused when presented with two words that sound similar or have similar meanings. Instead of just memorising words, try to remember a short phrase that expresses the meaning of the word."

The site also includes help for reading Japanese.


Eh Canadian

I was listening to some Canadian English in the song Take Off by Bob and Doug McKenzie (remember them?), and then found a language site that includes some info about our neighbors in the Great White North:

"Canadian English, for all its speakers, is an under-described variety of English....There is a small body of scholarly research that suggests that if there is such a thing as a Canadian English, all its unique characteristics are being lost. In fact, Lilles (2000) goes so far as to claim that there is no such thing as a distinct Canadian English, and argues that the notion of Canadian English is a myth, fabricated to reinforce a fragile Canadian identity....Other research suggests that the few unique traits of Canadian English are disappearing in favour of American forms."

They really were able to sneak in their special spelling of "favor," eh?


Rick is cool

Rick Kogan is totally cool. He's a writer for the Chicago Tribune and has a radio show on WGN Radio. I met him a while ago when he was promoting his biography of Ann Landers, and thought he was a friendly guy. I even emailed him, and he returned my email, which I thought was nice, especially because he's busy.

But what puts him in the "totally cool" category is what he did tonight. I happened to see him at an event and spoke with him, thinking I was too much of a peon to take up his time. But not only did he introduce me to author Dennis Foley, but he bought me Foley's book, The Streets & San Man's Guide to Chicago Eats! I'm not friends with Rick Kogan, not even an acquaintence (tonight was only the second time I'd ever met him) but he did that! Now that's cool!

Here's hoping that only the best in life will come Rick's way.

If you're interested

I've been going through the bowels of the Rush fan site to extract some translations I posted over there of articles I translated from Brazilian websites. I've posted the first one I found, but will eventually post all of them (there are a few).

There's also been another Numa update.


Happy New Year!

Today is Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year), but I celebrated it a few days ago at a church potluck. When I was there, I saw the Chinese character for "fortune" turned upside down. Even though my Chinese is really lame (ie, practically non-existent), I knew the character didn't look right. But this explanation from Taiwan made sense:

"Spring couplets are paper scrolls and squares inscribed with blessings and auspicious words, such as 'good fortune,' 'wealth,' 'longevity,' and 'springtime.' The paper squares are usually pasted upside down, because the Mandarin word for 'upside down,' dao, is a homonym of the word 'arrival.' Thus, the paper squares represent the 'arrival' of spring and the 'coming' of prosperous times."

So should we make more New Year's resolutions? I'd like to say mine is to make progress in Mandarin, but at this point, it seems more like an intellectual exercise, though I eavesdrop on Mandarin conversations to try to figure out if they're saying the few words that I know. I'm still reading Beginner's Chinese by Yong Ho, which is a great book, and have even broken out my copy of 実用中国語会話, (Jitsuyo Chugokugo Kaiwa--Practical Chinese Conversation) where each phrase is translated from Chinese into Japanese and English. But all the explanations of grammar, pronunciation, and other rules are in Japanese, so it's good practice for the Japanese Proficiency Test.


Happy Rosenmontag

Today is Rosenmontag, which is part of German Carnival: "Officially it starts am elften elften elf Uhr elf (11th November at 11:11am) and continues in a fairly low-key way for about three months before the Tolle Tage (Crazy Days) which climax on Rosenmontag, the 42nd day before Easter."

I had no idea this holiday existed until I got an email from my German class: "Am Montag, 7. Februar 2005, ist Rosenmontag, der wichtigste Tag im deutschen Karneval."

That announcement corresponded in its simplicity to the English translation, which gave me hope: "Monday, February 7th, 2005, is Rosenmontag, the most important day in German Carnival."

But then the email became wordy, which made the invitation to a gathering before German class a little scary: "Wir würden uns freuen, wenn Sie vor dem Unterricht ab 17:00 Uhr zu uns in den Lesesaal zu Donuts und Getränken kommen würden."

Note how the English translation is simpler (of course): "You are cordially invited to donuts and soft drinks in our reading room starting at 5 pm. Classes will begin as usual at 5:30 pm."

Maybe the German-speaking world needs to discover the joys of periods (punctuation) to prevent the onslaught of their language on simple-minded English speakers.


Kat on Rush

I was impressed that writer and Rush fan Kathryn Lively not only met Geddy Lee, but also got a review of the Virginia Beach show posted at the band's site.

Scroll down to the fifth review that begins with, "I should like to mention first of all that I am a relatively new fan, though I have been married to an avid fan for almost ten years. Having listened to them casually over time, I truly did not come to appreciate their music until a few years ago, when it was believed the band might not tour or record again."

If the link doesn't work, she has one at her blog.


Yet another Numa update

If you're still interested in the evolution of the Numa Numa Dance post, I've added another update.

Hey, I have to keep all those visitors happy [*shrug*].

Coming soon to a post near you: Kat on Rush.


The Doubt Police are knocking

John Banas was giving me a hard time because he thinks I've given up the pursuit to get published (or at least get an agent). I haven't, but it's really hard to remain hopeful when no one is asking for your work or is ready to pounce on you with a rejection.

I found some advice for when the Doubt Police are at the door:

"'But I'll never be published!' you insist. Louis L'Amour probably thought that, too, when he received his first 349 rejections. According to Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul, he made a sale on his 350th submission. Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind was rejected over 25 times, Dr. Seuss' first book was rejected 27 times, and Robert Pirsig's Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was rejected 121 times."

Idioms can kill

I've been studying Japanese practically every day (no one's perfect) for the Japanese Proficiency Test, and must admit that idioms may be the killers, not kanji. Usually people from non-kanji or character-based societies (ie, those that use the Roman alphabet) are terrified by kanji. In the past, like lots of other people, I saw kanji as enemies.

But now, as I've been reading Unicom's 2nd level Japanese Proficiency Test book, I think that idioms might be the cause of a sanity meltdown. There are so many phrases to learn, based on such benign and simple-looking words as だけ (dake), それ (sore), and から (kara), my head hearts. And I'm only on page 55, and still haven't sufficiently nailed down anything of value.

And the sick thing is that my version of the book (from the early 90's) says "Speed learning" on the cover - in six different languages, in case the whole world has to be reminded. And the whole book is Japanese, so if you don't know the kanji or vocabulary that you're reading, you can't even begin to understand the idioms.

Luckily it's just February.


For the record

I just want to state, for the record, that if I find out that someone has taken my book idea(s), I won't retaliate (how could I?), but I will definitely mention in this blog that the idea(s) came from me. I'm saying this because: 1) I've posted some stuff online; 2) I've let a few people know about a couple of non-fiction books I'm working on; and 3) I met a published author who said they'd give me some info about finding a publisher for one of the non-fiction books I'm writing. (I mentioned that just in case they want to run with my idea, since they're already published.)

So, if one day you see a post here about an idea that was taken from me, you won't be surprised or think I was bluffing.

Looking for a script?

I wanted to read a script of a Gilmore Girls episode (even though it's jumped the shark) and found the script I was looking for, and other scripts, at TWIZ TV. The site is based in France, but it covers a lot of American television shows and movies, and is written in English. Which makes you wonder if it's really in France.

They have scripts from television shows, which dedicated people with a lot of time have transcribed, screenplays, and, of course, discussion forums.

The site makes it clear that the scripts are "For Entertainment And Educational Purposes Only - No Infringement Intended." So if you want to add to your learning and entertainment enjoyment, check it out.