I like language work...

...but sometimes I get so sick of working at home. Or even if I'm working elsewhere and everything requires working in silence at a computer in a cubicle, it can also make me batty or stir-crazy. But I also don't like work that requires constant human interaction. I'm not totally extroverted, but I'm not totally introverted either. So I don't know what to do.

Yes, this is more of a personal post, but hey, I have to do some language-related venting at times :)


Italian art blog

I came upon an art blog by Alessandro Andreuccetti, who's from Italy. The only problem is that even though I studied Italian a while ago, and even translated a bit of it, my Italian is quite lame now. So I can't understand the text that goes with his great sketches.


Lighting matters

This is an obvious observation, but when I watched The Star Trek Voyager episodes of Future's End, I noticed how important lighting is in movies and TV.

For instance, Captain Braxton looks quite different in Part One when he first is trying to destroy Voyager (see pic below).

But then in Part Two, he looks totally different because events in time changed, which made the future change, which made Captain Braxton change as well (see pic below).

It's all from the lighting--it's very effective. So since I saw those episodes a while ago, I often see how lighting is used in stuff I watch. It's interesting how it sets the mood in addition to aesthetics.



I went to someone's place in a very upscale part of the city, where one of the pillows had the word "bling." Then I heard a suburbanite use that word, which made me wonder where it came from.

It's from a trashy hip hop song from the late 90's. The song is so disgusting that I don't want to post it here, so I'll just link to the lyrics.

What's weird is that a lot of milktoast people are using it, who live far away from the dysfunctional ghetto culture that is glorified musically (and visually) in our country and throughout the world. Which makes me glad that I haven't used that word yet--it's derivative of nothing I respect.


Midwest Japan site

A guy in my Japanese class who works at the Japanese Consulate created the Japan Media Midwest blog.

JMM covers traditional and modern Japan-related events, fine arts, film, dining, and music in a ten-state area. States include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Wisconsin.

If you live or work in those states and have anything to announce, you can contact them at japanmediamidwest at gmail. Or you can just read it to find out what's going on :)



I had no idea that the word "company" comes from the Latin "cum panis," which means "with bread."

I found a very interesting resource online that mentions "cum panis": a book from 1872 called An English grammar and reading book for lower forms in classical schools. It lists two words in its glossary that come from "cum panis":

companion: a sharer of food, a comrade, fellow-traveller, partner

company: association, a number of partners

Now I'm thinking of looking more into Google books because you can download that one and others for free. Very cool.


Excellent Orwell site

Even though I read a meaty Orwell biography, I wanted to know more about him, especially his son, and came upon an excellent Orwell site. There's a lot I can pull out of there including articles, books, commentaries, links, and lots of other stuff that I doubt I'll get through in this lifetime. But check it out--it's worth a bookmark, for sure.


Finally done!

I have been reading Inside George Orwell for at least a few months, and I have FINALLY finished it! It was quite long and complex, as I've said before, and it really took me through a lot. Basically, he was very productive and lived a short life--he died in his 40's. What a tragedy. He was a complex, intelligent, talented man, who was unfortunately a womanizer--actually, he had an unhealthy view of women. His first wife, who also died in her 40's, had to endure his affairs, egotism, etc.--a marriage I would never want to have.

But Orwell was definitely an impressive person, and he died too young. I wonder what he would've thought of the Iron Curtain and other societal nightmares--people who lived in such oppressive regimes said that it seemed as if he'd lived there too.


Westernized bows

I lived in Japan for a few years, and learned some bowing rules, including the fact that you are NOT supposed to make eye contact when you bow.

But if you look at some commercials in the U.S. (and probably Canada too and other parts of the Western world), the Japanese people do not bow that way. They maintain eye contact with the people they're bowing to. The latest example is in the Wii commercials. The Japanese guys who go to people's houses, telling them they'd "like to play", are maintaining eye contact while they're bowing towards the homeowners, which would be considered quite inappropriate in Japan. But obviously, they're doing it for non-Japanese people, and it's quite dramatic, so it works for us.

Those commercials are great, by the way, and include some awesome shamisen playing by the Yoshida Brothers.

Way to go, Japan.

Update: some Japanophiles were telling me that in the martial arts, you HAVE to look at your opponent when you bow. So they suggested that the Japanese guys in the Wii commercials are acting as if they're bowing towards their opponent in martial arts. That makes sense.


Medieval help

This is hilarious! I thought it was Danish, but it's from Norwegian television. I guess Norwegian and Danish are very similar.

I also recommend watching the video of a Norwegian newscast that includes an interview with the writer who created this sketch.



I learned a new word today, which Americans never use: chuffed, which means "very pleased." It's a British word, of course.


Popjisyo to the rescue!

A long time ago (it seems) I mentioned Popjisyo, which is an excellent resource for reading Japanese (and Korean and Chinese, but I don't know them). Today I had to read an article for class, and didn't want to sit down with a dictionary, so decided to "cheat" by using Popjisyo. It made my reading enjoyable, and I was able to understand the article quite easily and quickly! It is just the best!

So if you have any online Japanese (or a few other) texts that you need to read, I highly recommend it!

(And you can tell I'm quite serious about my enthusiasm because I've used a lot of exclamation points in this post.)


Something to think about

I am *still* reading Inside George Orwell, which I started a while ago, possibly a few months ago. During that time, I read other books and lots of meaty stuff online, and I should have finished this book, but it is not an easy read, partly because they reference historical events, people, and literary figures that I don't have background knowledge on. Plus, one sentence can have several heavy-duty ideas within it. Basically, the older he got, he became extremely intellectual and analytical, and he was friends with other brainy people, so the biography becomes more complex and his life progresses.

There are many amazing statements in this book, and if I were more organized, I would've marked them. But here's one that I just came across:

A society becomes totalitarian when its structure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is, when its ruling class has lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud. Such a society, no matter how long it persists, can never afford to become either tolerant or intellectually stable. It can never permit either the truthful recording of facts, or the emotional sincerity, that literary creation demands.

He also predicted the Cold War. Incredibly smart guy.


Acronym Finder

I found out about a nifty application at Linguistics & Languages: an Acronym Finder:

...the world's largest and most comprehensive dictionary of acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms...contains more than 4 million acronyms and abbreviations...

It covers several categories including Information Technology, Military & Government, Business & Finance, Science & Medicine, Organizations & Schools, and even Slang & Pop Culture. This is definitely worth a bookmark.

But that's not all! "You can also search for more than 850,000 US and Canadian postal codes."

They have so much there, I'm wondering if they're able to squeeze in anything else there.


China from the sky

Someone sent me several very pretty pictures of rural China. If I were to post them all, it would make the post too long. So here are a few. When I was there, I saw terraced farms, though they weren't as beautiful as these pictures. I can tell these photos have been touched up (via Photoshop?).