I just found out that I've had over 60,000 unique visitors to this site, from over 100 countries, including:

United States, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, China, Ireland, Poland, Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, South Korea, France, Iceland, Australia, Brazil, Thailand, Taiwan, Belgium, Sweden, Russian Federation, India, Israel, Romania, Malaysia, Austria, Singapore, Czech Republic, Ivory Coast (Cote D'Ivoire), Philippines, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Hungary, Denmark, Mexico, Finland, Argentina, Turkey, Indonesia, Norway, Portugal, Colombia, Egypt, Pakistan, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, Peru, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Lithuania, South Africa, Senegal, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Ukraine, Chile, Ecuador, Croatia, European Union, Luxembourg, Greece, Ethiopia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Jordan, Guam (USA), Slovak Republic, Morocco, Yugoslavia, Latvia, Tunisia, Moldova, Panama, Qatar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Nigeria, Belarus, Cyprus, El Salvador, Palestinian Territories, Macedonia, Sri Lanka, Monaco, Bangladesh, Algeria, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Benin, Albania, Trinidad and Tobago, Armenia, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Myanmar, Saint Kitts & Nevis Anguilla, Mongolia, Macau, Kazakhstan, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, Syria, Polynesia (French), Bolivia, Gabon, Antigua and Barbuda, Virgin Islands (USA), Libya, Bermuda, Netherlands Antilles, Madagascar, Lebanon, Andorra, Malta.

What's cool is that I haven't asked people to promote my blog, have no online advocates (though a few bloggers list it), have done no articles that link to it, and have done nothing to market it. It also has a relatively narrow focus (ie, no politics or social commentary or controversial content, etc). A while ago, I read "build it and they will come," which is true. My blog isn't a blockbuster, but it's apparently decent enough to get visitors. So thanks! I will mention this when I contact agents :)



I put that word in quotes because here in Chicago, there was an election and I voted, but as usual, the results were predictable: Da Mayor won. No surprise there. It's his sixth term, and if he lives through it (unlike his dad, who also was elected for a sixth term), then he'll be the longest-serving mayor here.

He's corrupt, but he's done a good job overall. But really, what can we do? The competition can't match his experience or power, so I really see Da Mayor more as a king than an elected official. There were also aldermanic races, and I was going to say that my ward is another predictable election, but surprisingly, the incumbent alderman might actually lose! Which means that I have to follow the election results, which I never do on the city level.

Chicago is a one-party town, which makes voting odd: you're either voting for one Democrat or another. Luckily, not everyone thinks the same way, but it's sort of strange to live in a free country yet have a huge city with only one party. And what's also bizarre for a "free" system is that the aldermen in the city council usually go along with what Da Mayor wants. So they're the knights in the ruler's kingdom.


Snow in Denmark

I haven't been too happy about the below-zero weather here in Chicago, but Denmark (according to Lilly) seems to have worse snow than I've seen here. I like the change of seasons, but dang--they have too much to deal with.


Excellent Japanese movie

I just saw an excellent Japanese movie--actually, it's an excellent movie, no matter where it was made: Always - Sunset on Third Street. The acting is great, the story is interesting with humorous and sweet moments--it's just a lot better than some other films that everyone goes crazy over. It won a bunch of Japanese Academy Awards and could easily win awards in the U.S. too, but people are too busy salivating over such drivel as the Pursuit of Happyness, which I seem to be the only one it didn't win over.

Also check out the official Japanese site too.


Online picture dictionary

This is incredibly neato: an internet picture dictionary in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

Each dictionary has flashcards, fill-in-the blanks, word scramble, spelling, and straight recall based on the pictures. And there are various helpful links there, too.


Keep the Canadian accent!

I saw this letter in a media column:

Just when I thought it was safe to watch TV news again without having to cringe at Canadian accents and mispronunciations, Channel 7 hires Ravi Baichwal. I'm sure he is a nice guy, and I'm willing to give him three months. If he hasn't dropped the Canadian accent by then, I say we call it a day.

I disagree--I like Canadian accents!


Need to write

Since I finished the novel, I've started working on another one (amazingly!) while looking for agents. I didn't write all weekend because I took the time off, but I shouldn't have because I'm at the point where I can not NOT write. This is a big deal because a lot of unpublished writers give up, or they want an incentive to write, but my incentive is that I enjoy it. Sure, I'd love to publish what I've written, but it's not the sole reason anymore.

I know people who tell me that they want to write a novel, and I give them a trite response: "then write it." But they think there's some magical feeling they should have. It takes discipline and commitment and a belief in the worthiness of the process. But people don't want to sit down and do it. Or they're scared because it's difficult (which it is) and it's hard work and requires people to let go and become something/someone that they might not usually be.


Great lyrics

I heard "Guess Things Happen That Way" by Johnny Cash, and was struck by these lyrics that seem sad but hopeful:

Well you ask me if I'll forget my baby.
I guess I will, someday.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.
You ask me if I'll get along.
I guess I will, someway.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.

God gave me that girl to lean on,
then he put me on my own.
Heaven help me be a man
and have the strength to stand alone.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.

You ask me if I'll miss her kisses.
I guess I will, everyday.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.
You ask me if I'll find another.
I don't know. I can't say.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.

God gave me that girl to lean on,
then he put me on my own.
Heaven help me be a man
and have the strength to stand alone.
I don't like it but I guess things happen that way.


Garrett Wang seems cool

I highly recommend listening to the interview with Garrett Wang. It's a podcast, and the interview isn't at the beginning of it--it starts around a quarter of the way in.

It's interesting to hear about his background, and his impressions of Hollywood and Voyager (which includes harsh opinions about producer Rick Berman and tidbits about Kate Mulgrew's negative reaction to the addition of Jeri Ryan).

The interview is long--a rarity in the media, which is why podcasts are sometimes better than other audio/video, and it allows you to really see what Garrett Wang is like: he seems interesting and fun!

I've posted a picture of what he looks like now, with another Trek actor I'd like to meet: Tim Russ.

If anyone wants to grant me a wish, it's that--and I think they'd think I was interesting, too :)


Temperature converter

It has been very cold here, and since this blog's readership is international, I wanted to use both Fahrenheit and Celsius to describe the temperature: it's been around 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit, which is -15 to
-12 degrees Celsius.

How do I know what the temp is in both forms? From the Fahrenheit to Celsius Converter. You can convert either way--just enter the temperature you know in its respective box, and it'll do the rest. Very nifty and handy!


They should've asked me...

Someone gave me this weird translation of a Japanese sign--there are so many native English speakers there who could've translated it correctly, but they went with this odd meaning...or they could've asked me to do it :)



Ok--I reached my goal of finishing the novel today. I was supposed to meet Johnny B for lunch, but it was snowing so much, it would have been a very long trip up to the burbs, so we rescheduled for next week. But my goal was to finish the book by the time I met up with him today, and I still stuck to my goal. Which is a victory.

And now all I have to do is proofread it. I'm so used to it hanging over my head, it's strange to not have to write the story anymore. The story has been told! I just can't believe it--I started a while ago, did different drafts, trashed a lot of stuff, got into radio and put the novel aside for a while, and now it's done!

Besides proofreading it, I have to get a list of agents to contact and write a convincing query letter. There's a lot more work to be done and rejections to be received. But I'm still motivated, and am happy that I stuck to my goals and was disciplined and focused enough to write it. I see the fact that I worked on it despite the absence of any editor or agent waiting for it as an incredible feat--lots of people give up when there's no such external motivation.

One side note: the upside of work not being too busy or satisfying is the ability to think about and pursue writing--and my attitude towards it has changed. Because I took the time to write, it helped me appreciate the process. I have a lot more to say, but will save it for another time. I'm both elated and feel sort of odd that I've finally crossed the finish line.


Basho was lonely

I read that Basho, the Japanese poet, was quite lonely: "The more famous and wealthy Basho became, the more dissatisfied he was. He was lonely and depressed..."

And his writing reflected this as well:

I feel lonely as I gaze at the moon, I feel lonely as I think about myself, and I feel lonely as I ponder upon this wretched life of mine. I want to cry out that I am lonely, but no one asks me how I feel.

You'd think that even though he had hardships, all the students and fame and acquaintences would help his loneliness, but that wasn't the case. And he became successful from his writing, but it didn't seem to help. What was his deal?



A while ago, I had to take science and other classes for a teaching certificate I was going for (which I ended up never using, but that's another story). I ended up taking language classes to help balance out the dreaded education classes I had to endure, and one of them was Spanish through the television: a telecourse called Destinos.

Destinos teaches speaking, listening, and comprehension skills in Spanish. This telenovela, or Spanish soap opera, immerses students in everyday situations with native speakers and introduces the cultures, accents, and dialects of Mexico, Spain, Argentina, and Puerto Rico. Understanding of Spanish and appreciation of many Hispanic cultures increase as students become absorbed in the mysterious and entertaining story.

An excellent series. I didn't know Spanish when I started out, so I didn't understand everything, but by the end of the first section, I was paying attention to the story, not thinking about the structures (ie, not analyzing the language itself). So I got engrossed in the story as I was learning--which is the point.

Of course, I didn't learn how to speak because it was about listening and learning grammar and vocabulary, but at the beginning of foreign language acquisition, we're passive anyway. So it suited me fine. Even when it comes on the TV now, I still watch it--it has good memories for me.



Linguistics & Language had a guest blogger who talked about the blend of Malay and English called "Manglish". Here are some examples:

“Why you so likedat wan?” - Why are you like that?

“I dunwan to talk you anymore.” - I am not going to talk to you anymore.

“You say correct anot?” - Do you agree with me?

“Die-die I oso want.” - No matter what, I also want (something).

But most significant is our ‘lah‘. We use lah to emphasise our point.

Come lah!
Let’s go lah!
Eat lah!

She uses also uses Manglish at her blog.

There are a lot of such blendings throughout the world, including Spanglish here in Chicago, and Japlish, which my friends and I dabbled in when we were in Japan--the mixture is hard to avoid the longer you're exposed to more than one language.


Misogynist Weekly

Nunavuter (who reads this blog) created these lovely magazine covers. The "article" names include "10 Tips to Shut Her Up During Football" and "Finding the British War Bride for You." It is, after all, "the magazine for men who love hating women."

It's satire, in case you're wondering...


Not lay

What's wrong with the quote below?

Firefighter: I saw him laying facedown
Firefighter saves 8-year-old -- the 2nd rescue of his career

When Chicago firefighter John O'Brien got to him, 8-year-old Max Crawford was in a heap on the floor at the end of his bed, his little nose black with soot. He was barely breathing.

"I [saw] him laying facedown on the carpet," said O'Brien, who crawled through thick smoke in an early Friday morning fire on the West Side to find Max, who was wearing his PJs.

It's the verb: lay. I often hear people say, "I need to lay down." I want to ask, "Lay down what?" because "lay" is supposed to take an object. The correct word is "lie", as in, "I'm so tired, I need to lie down." So the firefighter should have said, "I saw him lying facedown." But he was too busy being a hero, saving someone's life to worry about grammar :)

(seen in a Sun-Times article)