Here's a little victory I had today, which may seem insignificant to people who don't have to battle kanji or other difficult Japanese stuff: I was able to find out the meaning of a word by reading it in context--in Japanese. I feel like a grown-up.

In trying to find out the meaning of the word, which didn't exist in my large kanji dictionary, my even larger Japanese-English dictionary, or my beloved Popjisyo, I discovered Goo. It has lots of stuff, including a Japanese (kokugo) dictionary, English-Japanese dictionary, Japanese-English dictionary, and searches in Japanese Wikipedia.

I haven't tested out a lot of words there, but the name is totally cute.


Blurry Bono

Someone just posted a comment on a post I did about seeing Bono more than two years ago, wondering where the pictures are that I said I took. In the original post, I said that I took some really lame pictures because there were a lot of people around me, some of whom where pushing me because I was towards the front of the pack. I was also quite nervous because I'd waited there for a while with a few other folks to see if he'd emerge from his hotel, and he did, and I was using a brand new camera.

So above is another lame picture I took--I call it Blurry Bono because he looks like an Impressionist painting. He was giving an autograph to a super fan in front of me, and lots of people were pushing from behind. So I was all flustered. Sorry to all the fans out there who are going to see this :)


One of the things that's annoying about Japanese

Japanese is enjoyable to study, but there are some things that are annoying about it, especially for a Westerner like me.

If I have a question about French, I can type in the word or phrase that I'm looking for in a Google search, and can come upon online discussions or dictionaries or whatever pretty easily--someone somewhere knows what the words are in English. Or I can read French text that provides context for what I'm looking for.

But with Japanese, it's not very easy to find discussions online or use dictionaries quickly, because if you're reading Japanese on paper, you can't just quickly type in the word or phrase on the computer to do a search. You have to go through a lot of steps to find out what the heck anything means. First you have to change your computer's settings to Japanese, then type in the reading using the English keyboard which then pops up a box with a bunch of kanji in it. Then you have to look through the kanji to choose what you need, then you can paste it in the Google search box or use one of the online text readers such as Popjisyo. And there aren't a lot of Westerners discussing meanings of Japanese online--perhaps they represent a fraction of the number of French-speaking/reading folks.

It obviously takes a while, so it's easier to use a book. Unlike French, which you can research more conveniently online.


Writing contest

There's a writing contest in memory of my Metrofiction pal John Deaver, who passed away last year. Here's some of the info from an article that came out last week:

Since Steel Beam is once again producing "A Christmas Story," the board of directors wishes to honor the memory of John Deaver by creating a writing contest in his name: The John Deaver "A Christmas Story" Short Story/Memoir Contest.

Organizers are looking for your best literary short stories or memoirs about the winter holidays (Christmas, Kwanza, Hannukah, etc.) Winners will receive a cash honorarium, publication in a booklet printed by Steel Beam Theatre, five copies of the booklet, two complimentary tickets to "A Christmas Story" and the chance to read their story during a Steel Beam Theatre performance Nov. 23 to Dec. 23.

All stories should be no longer than the maximum length set forth below, and must be received by Nov. 1. Winners will be notified on or about Nov. 15.

You may submit your manuscript at www.SteelBeamTheatre.com, or a double-spaced, typewritten copy may be sent to Steel Beam Theatre, 111 W. Main Street, St. Charles, IL 60174.

Include the following information in the upper left hand corner: Division, Name, Address, Telephone numbers, e-mail address and word count.

Adults' word limit is 2,500 and the prize would be $100.

High school students' word limit is 2,000 and prize is $100.

Kids in grades 7/8 have a word limit of 500 and prize of $75. Grades 5/6 have a limit of 250 words and prize of $ 50. Grades 3/4 have a word limit of 100 and prize of $25.

All the info is here.

Actually, I did a post here about John's involvement with the Christmas Story a couple of years ago.


Over 90k

Well, it's time to mention some of the guests that have visited this blog. At this point, well over 90,000 unique visitors have come here from every continent on earth, including some islands. There have been over 100 countries represented, including these more "rare" and "interesting" ones:

Antigua and Barbuda
Faroe Islands
New Caledonia
Saint Lucia
Saudi Arabia


Some funny blogs

Here's a blog that was lucky to be chosen by Blogger as a "blog of note," which also deserves it (instead of some others that are pitched by powerful PR agents and movie studios): The "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks. It contains photos of incorrectly used quotation marks on signs. I've seen many of them, and I'm glad there are folks out there who are documenting it all.

Through there I also found some other blogs:

One blog keeps track of Passive Aggressive Notes with "passive-aggressive notes from roommates, neighbors, coworkers and strangers."

Another blog has a tagline that made me totally laugh out loud: lowercase L, which cries, "Ever notice hand-written signs with letters in all-caps, except for the letter L? It looks like an uppercase i ... WHY DO PEOPlE WRITE lIKE THIS?"

It is so funny, I'm laughing again while doing this post!

And then there's a blog that covers something that I've written about before, which is the misuse of the word "literally." Actually, the blog is literally called Literally, "An English language grammar blog tracking abuse of the word 'literally'."

And here's another blog about something I've mentioned before, which many people throughout the English-writing world notice again and again: Apostrophe Abuse.

Have fun reading all those!


Fancy street

California has given their towns and streets some great names, and so far, I like this one the best in San Francisco: Divisidero. It sounds like they're trying to make the idea of "dividing" sound fancy.

It's sort of like their name for the port area: Embarcadero, as if they're trying to dress up the word/concept "harbor". Though I think that the English word "embarking" sounds quite fancy on its own.


Menu mystery partially solved

I showed a Macao-born Cantonese speaker the swearing menu I did a post about recently, and he told me what the Chinese character means that is above the English "f" word: it means "dry."

It's baffling that the person who translated the menu confused "dry" for an English swear word.

Also, the translator had no clue about the context, either: the first item on the menu contains a character that means "river," but the translator didn't know that the character represents an area in Guandong province that produces rice noodles. So people use that character as a kind of shorthand to refer to the noodles even though it means "river."

It's all too obvious that the menu folks have to find someone who knows both languages well.



I'm taking a much-needed vacation in San Francisco, one of my favorite cities. I'm probably going to meet up with Mahndisa, who (or whom--I'm too tired to figure it out) I first met last year when I was there. She's as smart and interesting as her blog--too bad I haven't been able to meet others on my blog list.

So I might be making San Francisco-related posts from there. I don't know. I'm too wiped out from working a crazy schedule to think too far ahead.


Worksheet generator

I came across a worksheet generator that creates sorting and matching worksheets. You can set up two- to four-column exercises or a "spaghetti exercise" where the "students draw lines between matching items." It's a quick way to test people's knowledge of information, vocabulary, verbs, or whatever else would fit within that simple format.


I need to be friends with kanji

To prepare for the translating that I've resumed, I started to brush up on my kanji with some flashcards that I made a while ago. There are many kanji that I've forgotten, which means many headaches are in store for me. But I already feel invigorated, stimulated, and challenged enough to keep my brain fully occupied.

I remember writing "friends" on the front of a kanji notebook that I created a while ago because I figured that was the only way I was going to be able to memorize them--if I considered them my "friends" instead of "foes" that I had to try to stuff in my brain.

If you're wondering why all this Japanese-related whining is occuring, it's because Japanese is hard. But it's worth the pain :D



Tonight I was watching the always-enjoyable Inspector Lynley, and noticed that they said "clark" for the word "clerk".

Actually, I first noticed such "odd" British pronunciation last year, when I saw the episode The Seed of Cunning. I didn't think about it until last week, when that episode was re-broadcast. They kept saying "clark" so often, that I had to look at the plot to make sure that it was indeed the word "clerk."

Why do Brits pronounce a word that has an obvious "e" sound with an "a" sound? It's not "clark", it's "clerk." The spelling obviously demonstrates how it "should" sound.

I'm going to ask my British neighbor to say the word. And if he pronounces it like the folks on Lynley, then I'm going to ask him what is wrong with his English ;)


Resuming Japanese translating

Even though I've been studying Japanese, I haven't translated it in a while. But I'm going to resume translating it, which means my brain is going to hurt because not only is there a ton of kanji and vocabulary that is very different from English, but the thinking is different as well. French is easier to translate because you don't need to understand a very different psychology. But trying to translate the Japanese mindset can be quite challenging. At least I can't be accused of having a mushy mind :D


Swearing menu

Someone sent me this picture of a badly translated Chinese menu. I'm wondering if it's real--the use of the "f" word occurs twice, which is weird. However, it represents the same Chinese character each time, so it could've been truly translated very badly.



Great tagline

I saw a book published by IVP that had a great tagline on the back cover: "Think deep. Live smart."

Quite true.