Sweden is not in Eastern Europe

I thought Whole Foods was more savvy than the average grocery store, but apparently they need some education: they say that these Swedish meatballs are a "taste of Eastern Europe", but Sweden is in Northern Europe. Check your geography, people.


They should've read their menu before printing it

I saw this at an established, popular restaurant that has been around for years. So you know they have enough money to hire someone to proofread their menus, but apparently they didn't bother to do that. And didn't take the time to check their menu before sending it to print. The mistake is quite glaring--look at the last two sentences: they say that they moved to Broadway, and then in the last sentence, they say "We are pleased to bring our special cooking and deli favorites to Broadway".

Note how there is no period, which is an obvious mistake, but what's odd is that it seems like they are announcing their new location, as if it has just opened. Did they forget to delete that sentence?

The idea doesn't logically flow from the previous sentence or content because they were describing their history, and all of a sudden end the page with the introduction of a new idea and direction. Plus, they've been writing in the past tense, and then switch to present tense. They should have at least created a new paragraph.

Seriously, they should've taken the time to read their menu and should have found someone who could carefully look at it to make sure it made sense. I wonder if other customers have noticed this.


A poem inspired by overnight radio

Here's a poem that I saw at Dale Fanella's blog. Dale is a *very* talented and interesting guy who I worked with on a radio show a couple of years ago.
Poem Inspired By Working Overnights In Radio

Underneath my fingertips
60's 70's 80's hits

Overnight at the radio station
The greatest hits are in rotation

A candidate for caffeination
To help combat my deprivation

A cup of Joe, cool water splash
I wish I could go home and crash

A coffee buzz with Tired Eyes
Feeling fried like greasy fries

A catchy song, awake with passion
Eyes wide open never closed like caption

Then Sleep all day miss all the action
I can't get no satisfaction


A conscientious bottle

Wow, this silver polish is very conscientious: they included the phrase "plus shake space" after they indicated the content size. I wonder if anyone complained about an inaccuracy, which caused them to put that phrase in. It's specific enough to seem like a type of disclaimer. I don't think I've ever seen this on a bottle. Interesting!


A bilingual sign I haven't seen

I've seen this sign at only one drugstore (or "chemist", as Brits say) in Chicago, and it's probably there because it's in a big tourist area and up the street from the German Consulate. I just had to take a picture because it's rare for me to see, plus it's refreshingly bilingual in languages I don't usually see together in the city.


Lyrics to the WKRP closing song

Interesting timing: just after I did my last post about putting a dream to the side, I ended up having a series of intense work days, including some dream work, and I was way too busy to do anything but sleep (barely), work, and eat (sort of). Now that that the wave of work has receded (because of Thanksgiving), I've had the time to look around Facebook and elsewhere online, and saw this amusing video that tries to decipher the closing song of WKRP In Cincinnati. Enjoy!


Some good advice I can't find

I've been searching for an article that gives advice to creative people (artists really) about pursuing their dream vs working at a regular job and doing the dream on the side. I remember finding the article online last year, and assumed I'd be able to find it again, but I can't! I've done all kinds of searches for different time periods, and have been to all types of sites, but haven't had any luck--which has made me frustrated.

So I will share the helpful advice that I found in that article: basically, what they said was not to give up on the dream, but to have some kind of day job, even if it's just part time, because the stability will make you feel a lot better and more grounded instead of enduring the ups and downs, and consistent disappointments, of creative pursuits.

It was one of the best tips I've read on the subject, and I found it to be true, because I did what they said. Even though I probably won't be able to fully live "the dream", I feel great because I'm appreciated, paid fairly, and really enjoy the regular work, which helps to offset the utter disappointments of the dream.

In the search to try to find that helpful article, I found another one that advises people to get a regular job, and to find the dream there. Essentially, "Do what you love and the money will follow" is rarely true. He says:
Following your dream isn't all it's cracked up to be. Fact is, most wannabes aren't happy. In addition to the constant rejection, they feel unproductive. And when hired, they worry that they're just one wrong word from being unemployed again.

Even if you manage to land a longshot dream career, it may well turn out to be less than dreamy. You may be treated poorly: low salary, no job security, unreturned phone calls, etc. That's because bosses know they have little to lose. Coveys of wannabes are in the wings panting for your job.
I agree and can relate. I landed what I thought was a "dream" job, which didn't even pay a salary but a low hourly wage with no promise of an increase (and they eventually decreased everyone's pay anyway), and I was yelled at regularly, ignored, gossiped about, lied to, and eventually used. In another "dream" pursuit, I never attained much despite my efforts, and was even yelled and sworn at. At one point, I felt afraid that anything I said or did that was not deemed acceptable would lead to me losing what crumbs I had. And it's true that some folks in charge allow bad treatment and lousy pay because there are several people wanting the same gig who are willing to put up with the junk.

But once I decided to put the dream to the side and primarily pursue stability, everything instantly improved. Sometimes I'm disappointed that the dream can't be attained, but meanwhile, I have no complaints about my work situation--pretty much every aspect of it is great. I'm not giving up the dream, I've just accepted it as a sliver of what I do instead of trying to get it to happen more substantially.

So if you're wondering if you should put all your energy into a dream, put a time limit on it, and then assess what you're experiencing. If you feel consistently insecure, unappreciated, underpaid, and unaccomplished, find the dream in other work you can do well, and your life will be way better!


What I wanted to tell T Bone Burnett

I was in St. Louis this past weekend (a *great* place to visit) and ended up staying in the same hotel as T Bone Burnett, who's done a ton of stuff in the music business and beyond. He's not only a prolific musician but a very successful producer and writer who's won all kinds of awards.

Anyway, I was eating breakfast in the hotel restaurant and noticed this guy sitting near my table who kept looking my way. I couldn't figure out what he was looking at, because I'm certainly not famous, and after he was done eating, he walked up to a table near mine and introduced himself to T Bone Burnett. Wow, I had no idea he had been in such close proximity to me, eating and talking to a guy who looked Hollywood.

I didn't say anything to T Bone because I wasn't interested, but I still thought it was cool that he was so close, and I could even hear his conversation :D When he and Mr. LA left the restaurant, I immediately went online to find out more about him. When I read about everything he'd done throughout such an amazing career, I thought, "Wow, he makes me look like such an underachiever."

I kept thinking about that: not only am I an underachiever, but most people probably are compared to him. Later, I got on an elevator at the hotel, and there he was! Just me, my husband, and him. I wanted to say something! I wanted to tell him, "Congrats for achieving so much. I feel like such an underachiever!" But I didn't. I just stood silently, waiting for the elevator to arrive at my floor.

But still: what he's done is incredible and that is great!


An interesting tattoo

There's a guy who I often see working at Trader Joe's, and he has this tattoo on his arm: it's the Russian word for "capitalist". If the iron curtain still existed, the irony would be obvious.


In conversation with

I often see the phrase "in conversation with" at all kinds of literary and cultural events, and even in some places in the media. I saw on Wikipedia that it's a show on BBC Radio (though I couldn't find it at the station's site).

Here's an example of something I usually see: "John Smith in conversation with author Jane Doe". I've seen that phrase so often, I'm starting to think it sounds pretentious.

Why can't they just say "John Smith talks with author Jane Doe"? It's more direct and not so distant-sounding, as if they're trying to sound like they want to remain removed from any actual activity. Maybe they think it's too pedestrian to say "talks with", but it's better than using the haughty "in conversation with".

Maybe I'll start to use that phrase to replace the more mundane English that I use daily. For instance, yesterday I was in conversation with my boss about a student. I was also in conversation with a coworker about some CD's. Tomorrow I will be in conversation with someone about a website they want revised.

Yeah, that sounds like fun :p


Why wouldn't anyone like the Wizard of Oz

I've had a long week, and I still have a long work day tomorrow, so I've been relaxing tonight by watching The Wizard of Oz on TV. I've seen it many times before, and remember being scared of the Wicked Witch when I was a kid, but now I find the moving charming and entertaining. It's not a complex story, but I really enjoy the fantasy, the colors, the simplicity, the positivity...and the actors are fantastic. The three guys who played the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion all had extensive backgrounds in theater and vaudeville, and Judy Garland was great, too. Even though it was made over 70 years ago, it still seems fresh. And even though we have better effects and sets now, including digital capabilities, the technology they used doesn't seem dated or rudimentary. I accept its simplicity rather than pay attention to what's lacking. It's just a great movie, a true classic, and I think it would take a cynical or jaded person to not appreciate its artistry.


Jordan writes about China

A couple weeks ago, I was walking down the street and fell. Immediately, a couple of people ran up to me to see how I was doing. I was bruised but okay. But I was really glad that strangers cared to check up on me. The same wasn't true for a two-year-old girl who was killed in China. After a couple of vans hit her, *no one* helped her! If that happened where I live, *many* people would run to the toddler to take care of her ASAP!

Well Jordan, who currently lives in Malaysia but spent a year in China, posted the story he wrote for my anthology (read it for free, he's on page 23) as a response to the tragedy.


Why is this baby crying?

I saw this picture on One Inch Punch (an East Asian site), and I'm wondering if the baby is crying because he's scared or hungry, or is just acting like a baby. It's an interesting image of Halloween, for sure. This is in Japan, btw.


If you want to practice your Spanish and learn about manga

I came upon a Spanish manga site called Manga Spain ("Todo sobre el increíble mundo del manga, comics, anime y más") while doing a search for Shima Kousaku, and wanted to suggest it to manga and anime fans who want to improve their Spanish while reading about their favorite subject.

What's interesting is the use of "mangaka" (romanization for 漫画家) in the post rather than "manga artist" or whatever else the Spanish equivalent would be.

I honestly don't know if "mangaka" is used often in English sites, or if they use "manga artist" more often. Using the romanization seems like a better, sophisticated word choice that represents the hard-working Japanese artists.


Bonnie Koloc: an incredible singer I never knew about

Bonnie Koloc was a very popular singer in Chicago over 30 years ago, but I've never heard of her, and never heard her music until tonight when I saw her at Chicago Live. I had no idea what to expect. She was on stage with just a guitar player, and since I'd seen such a lineup before, I didn't expect much. But wow--she was really incredible. Even though the songs she sang were simple, and there was no flash and nothing fancy, the way she sang cut right through me and I felt very emotional while I was listening. Her style seems like folk, but she has so much depth, it's more like soul. She's a really amazing performer. I met her after the show, and could barely get the words out to express how much her singing impacted me. I'm not usually so moved when I hear someone sing, but I was seriously holding back tears.

Below is a video of her singing a few years ago, but seeing her live is way better--she totally communicates with the audience and truly sings from her heart. She's coming out with a new CD...I bet it's going to be great (here's a list of her previous music).


Weird English from Europe

You'd think that Europe wouldn't exhibit any bad English since a lot of people have studied it, and they've been interacting with England, Ireland, and Scotland for years, but I spotted some strange English on the label of this fruit spread when I was in a German store yesterday. It said: "For a superb taste mix fruit on top down into jar."

What does that mean? I understand the first few words, but then the meaning breaks down as the sentence continues. You'd think the French company that puts this product out would find *someone* who can verify that the English is correct. Puzzling, indeed.

Update: upon reading it again a few times, I think they mean that you should mix in the fruit that is on the top.


If you want to support Balinese

Alissa Stern from BasaBali, a site "encouraging the use of Balinese," contacted me after seeing my post about Tim Brookes' Endangered Language Project. She and some professors are working on "developing the first multimedia language materials for Balinese."

She says:
Although Balinese is not an endangered language, it is on sharp decline in the increasing shadow of English and Indonesian. Professor Hildred Geertz likens the richness of Balinese to Shakespearean English and 15th century Yiddush, but with only a million speakers left out of a
population of 3-4 million, it is quickly losing traction.
They started a kickstarter campaign "to try to
raise funds to pay the Balinese linguists, videographers, animators, and
anthropologists who are working with us."

So if you're interested in preserving Balinese, go to the campaign site to see a video and find out more. They have various reward levels for which you can receive a "thank you" gift for contributing.


Facebook confusion update

This summer, I discovered that I confused Facebook when I changed the display language to Japanese and my residence to non-American places. Then, to see what would happen, I changed again and saw Arabic and French ads.

Here's the most recent update: the display language is French, and I "reside" in Vietnam, so I currently see all French and Vietnamese ads. Confusing Facebook is fun! I've now decided to "move" from Vietnam to Thailand, so we'll see what pops up next. Stay tuned!


What English sounds like to non-English speakers

A short fake English film made to sound like what non-English speakers hear. It's funny to see how others perceive the language.

Thanks to Jordan for this.


Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

I forgot to post such a greeting earlier to our neighbors to the North. Hope everyone pigged out like we Americans do every year!


Simon & Schuster is ripping ebook readers off

I was looking at the forthcoming Steve Jobs biography on the Barnes & Noble site, and I thought "great, another B&N ripoff" since I'd discovered such over-pricing of ebooks before, so I looked at the Amazon site. Same over-inflated price for an ebook: $16.99, while the print version is $17.88. Then I saw this claim: "This price was set by the publisher" which is Simon & Schuster.

I went to their site, and it had the same price, ie, they're ripping off ebook readers by offering less than one dollar off the print price.

So who's to blame: Simon & Schuster, all publishers, or the online book sellers? Or everyone?

Hopefully their price gouging will cause people to not buy books, which will affect their bottom line. To act as if the same costs go into publishing ebooks as print is to assume that consumers are ignorant. I'm not, which is why I'm posting this here, and will continue to point out such greedy behavior until something changes.


Exercise is important, but...

"Everybody tells me that I have to exercise. That it is good for my health. But I never heard anyone telling a sportsman that he has to read." (José Saramago)


Cristina met Kevin Whately!

One of my favorite TV shows is Inspector Lewis, which is way better than what you can find in the US (it's a British show). Well, Cristina Hanganu-Bresch, one of the writers from the anthology (read it for free: she's on page 61) met the star of the show, Kevin Whately. Lucky!


Let's bon dancing!

I saw this sign this summer when I stumbled upon a Japanese festival at Mitsuwa, a large Japanese store in Arlington Heights. It's humorous and cute--they probably translated "mashou" (~ましょう) literally, because when you put that ending on a Japanese verb, it means "let's". So the Japanese is 踊りましょう (odorimashou), which literally translated is "let's dance". Then for some reason, they made "dance" a gerund, so it ended up as "dancing", and voila! You have some Japlish in Chicago!


He surpassed his goal

Professor Tim Brookes contacted me a while ago about his Endangered Alphabets Project, and I was planning on posting information about it here, but some serious offline stuff came up. Well apparently, his fundraising project was very successful: his goal was $6,000 and he raised over $17,000! It's incredible how much support he got.

He seems to be very productive. In addition to teaching, he writes a lot, including several books, and has even contributed essays to NPR.

The Endangered Alphabets project features "Inuktitut, Baybayin, Manchu, Bugis, Bassa Vah, Cherokee, Samaritan, Mandaic, Syriac, Khmer, Pahauh Hmong, Balinese, Tifinagh and Nom, carved and painted into a slab of Vermont curly maple." He says that:
at least a third of the world’s remaining alphabets are endangered–-no longer taught in schools, no longer used for commerce or government, understood only by a few elders, restricted to a few monasteries or used only in ceremonial documents, magic spells, or secret love letters
which is why he created the book and project that he plans to exhibit in various places.

It sounds like an interesting project, and I'm glad he succeeded in raising the funds to carve and take the show around.


Why are ebooks so expensive?

The other day, I wrote that I got a Nook. One of the perks I thought I'd get was access to cheaper books in e-form, but it doesn't look that way. For instance, the Nook book version of How Language Works is 17 dollars, and the print version is 18 dollars. If it costs so much to print books, then why is it only one dollar cheaper to get the electronic version? Some ebooks are cheaper, but some publishers are not being realistic when selling various versions of their books. Even with the occasional coupon I get from Barnes & Noble, it still doesn't bring the price down to an acceptable level. So I'm not going to buy it, and probably other readers see the illogical approach to such book pricing, too. Pricing e- and print books similarly isn't justifiable.


Mary ended up in a Japanese blog

Mary O'Regan, one of the writers featured in my anthology (read it for free: she's on page 13), has a really good fashion blog and ended up being photographed for a Japanese fashion blog. Her picture is below. That's really neat!


I got a Nook

I usually don't care about gadgets, but a teacher coworker of mine was showing me his Nook, and I was intrigued. I went to Barnes & Noble to check it out, and it seemed really cool and useful, especially since my Macbook seems to be breathing its last, and my netbook isn't that powerful. Well, I ended up getting one for my birthday, and it's a great tool.

There are some limitations, which is expected since it's really a small tablet. Typing isn't as easy as having a keyboard, and touchtyping is hard (I don't hunt and peck). In fact, I'm doing this post on my Nook right now because I wanted to see what it's like. Not so easy, actually. So I won't try it again.

But it makes reading easy, except for an ebook I bought on Scribd: the publisher doesn't allow downloads or mobile access, which is lame, though outside the scope of this post :)

Anyway, I'm now on my netbook typing on a proper keyboard because I couldn't finish the post on the Nook. For some reason, Blogger took me to another location, and when I tried to move the cursor down this text box, I couldn't access the end of the post, so I gave up. That's actually what's baffling about touchscreen tech: precise movement of the cursor and the proper rendering of websites.

One thing I discovered via the Nook was the mobile site of Project Gutenburg. I even found a Japanese audiobook which is difficult to understand because it was written in the 17th century. But I can still listen without having to break out my computer.

It's just a nifty thing to have and to use when I want to go online and read a variety of things via one tool. I still like paper books, though, and am reading a couple now when I'm not reading from the Nook. I just need to increase my non-English reading, and I'll be set :D


This guy was a genius

A lot of people throw the word "genius" around. I often hear that word overused in the radio biz, just because someone came up with silly jokes before anyone else, or can put together audio in an interesting way. That's not genius, it's talent. Talent is important and admirable, but genius is on a whole other level and requires extra-special brain power that seems to be exerted effortlessly.

The obituary of the creator of the e-book and founder of Project Gutenberg shows what a genius really is. Read it, and I think you'll agree.


Japanese signs

A guy who lives in Japan has taken hundreds of pictures of Japanese signs and even has a text file with the transcriptions of those signs (!), which you can copy and paste into an online dictionary to find out the meanings of words you don't know.

Before that extensive project, he even translated a bunch of signs from Japanese into English. Actually, on signs with a lot of text, he translated just the main headline words.

It's incredible that he's taken the time to do all that, in addition to maintaining his extensive Many Things site, which is more for ESL students. But he does have various Japanese-learning links on his Japanese page.


I figured out how to download my Facebook album

I've been posting pictures of signs on Facebook, but realized that I should also post them on Flickr because it will allow me to share them publicly. And there's also a way to synch up Flickr with Facebook, so maybe I'll just post to Flickr from now on. I'll figure out the best way.

Anyway, I was going to do another blog post topic tonight, but it took me so long to find a decent Facebook album downloader, I want to post the results of my search here: PhotoLive. I installed the plugin on Chrome, but it's available for various browsers. I have no idea how it works on the other browsers, but it worked for me on Chrome. So I'm going to post that album on Flickr, and post the link here.

Try it...you'll like it (hopefully).

UPDATE: Tech blogger JP (Jiangpeng) Zhang told me that PhotoLive has discontinued its service (even though the link I have above still works). He has written a blog post about Seven ways to download your Facebook albums and photos.


Seven years! and my Mac is still alive

I just realized that I've kept this blog going for SEVEN years! There was a period of time when I was posting a lot, then as I became more busy with work and my schedule wasn't consistent, my posting decreased. I pretty much gave up the fiction writing dream (which is ok) and started writing more non-fiction for pay (which is nice), so my "need" to express myself here via writing wasn't as great. I was also exerting lots of energy trying to accomplish things offline, so my involvement in this blog changed. But I never want to give it up! My love of language continues, and since I'm not surrounded by language fans offline, I still want to express my enthusiasm here.

Recently I haven't posted much, even though my work schedule is a lot more manageable than it's been all year. That's because some serious things have come up in my offline life. Plus, I thought my computer, which is a five year-old Macbook, was dying because the touchpad was acting strange, and my keyboard was acting up, too. I do most of my blog posts on this Mac, so it felt strange to write elsewhere, though I did.

But then I did some searching online, and found out that swollen batteries can cause touchpad havoc. And I just discovered tonight that's what has happened: my battery had expanded, causing the touchpad to act strangely, and after I removed it, I can type and move around easily.

So I'm very happy that I've kept this blog going for so long, and that my computer is *not* dying!


This is going to make reading Japanese online easier!

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you probably know that I love Popjisyo. It's great to paste Japanese text there (it also translates Korean and Chinese, though I don't know those languages) and find out what the more difficult words mean.

But yesterday, a guy at Barnes & Noble who's majoring in Japanese told me about Rikaichan, which is a popup dictionary tool that shows what a Japanese word means. It's for Firefox and some other browsers I haven't heard of, but since I'm not crazy about Firefox, I added Rikaikun to Chrome.

It's great! All I do is turn it on, and when I'm at a Japanese website, I just hover my mouse over a word, and it shows me what it means! Actually, it doesn't always translate a word because it seems to not recognize some kanji or kana combinations, but it's still very handy.

It's so handy, that there's a risk of becoming lazy: if all it takes is just a hover to understand a word, then we're tempted to not try to memorize it.

But if I want a more fully functioning popup dictionary, then I still like Popjisyo. It seems more precise and extensive. But Rikaikun is better than nothing!


If it weren't for the production, this show would be a dud

My husband likes to watch Top Shot. I'm not interested in watching a bunch of people shoot at a target. But what I have noticed is that if it were not for the excellent producing, the show would have nothing special about it.

The editing is really good, and the music adds drama. There are interesting camera angles and they even vary the speed of the bullets. Even the titles are well-designed. It looks like a sophisticated show, even though there's not much to it. Aesthetically, it's high quality. So whoever produces and edits that show is doing a good job.

I'm glad they've taken the time to make it tasteful. But I'm still not interested in the content.


30 years of music distribution

This is very interesting: a 30-second animated gif presentation of pie charts that represent where people have bought their music over the past 30 years. I've posted the first and last images here, but go to the site to see the entire thing. Fascinating!


A book that looks interesting

I've been wondering for a while why American culture seems so isolating even though there are people all around us. In my exploration of this topic, I found a great essay about feeling isolated in the church community, and within it was this quote from The Pursuit of Loneliness:
It is easy to produce examples of the many ways in which Americans attempt to minimize, circumvent, or deny the interdependence upon which all human societies are based. We seek a private house, a private means of transportation, a private garden, a private laundry, self-service stores, and do-it-yourself skills of every kind. An enormous technology seems to have set itself the task of making it unnecessary for one human being ever to ask anything of another in the course of going about his daily business...we seek more and more privacy, and feel more and more alienated and lonely when we get it...our encounters with others tend increasingly to be competitive as a result of the search for privacy.
The book was written 40 years ago, but it seems like the concepts can be applied today as well. I really should read this book. Even though I'm American, the culture can still be baffling at times.


Joyo kanji lists - handy!

It used to be that we would have to acquire a paper chart of joyo kanji (a list of regularly used kanji that is created by the Ministry of Education) either by purchasing one in a Japanese bookstore, or by scoring one from a school, but Wikipedia has a complete list that includes readings and meanings. Whoever took the time to post it and edit it is incredible!

The Japanese About.com site also has a list that is organized by grades, which is helpful, too, though it's not as complete as the Wikipedia one.

I'm so glad I no longer have to rely on just paper and books to improve my Japanese! Way to go Wikipedia!


Happy Father's Day in Taiwan!

Last night, a Taiwanese friend on Facebook posted "Happy Father's Day", so I did an online search to see why she would say that. It turns out that today (August 8) is Father's Day in Taiwan, and here's a good explanation about what it means:
[It] is widely observed on August 8, the eighth day of the eighth month of the year. In Mandarin Chinese, the pronunciation of the number 8 is bā. This pronunciation is very similar to the character "爸" "bà", which means "Papa" or "father". The Taiwanese, therefore, usually call August 8 by its nickname, "Bābā Holiday" (爸爸節).
She probably posted the greeting yesterday because Taiwan is about 13 hours ahead of us, so our August 7 was already their August 8.


Last week of teaching a lot

Since January, I've been teaching ESL for several hours a week, and since the school isn't in my area of the city, the commute has been quite long. But this week is my last week, and my schedule will be a lot more manageable through the end of the year. I'll probably go back to teaching one day a week, which I've been doing for a while.

I've noticed that some of the other teachers aren't doing a lot of other work outside of school, but I've been working at a couple of other places, so I've been very busy. I know...it's very American to say "I'm so busy" and I really don't want to say it, but it's been true. Plus, some other things have developed in my non-work life, so I've really been running around all over Chicagoland and helping people out.

But this week is the last week of daily commutes, long hours, and fatigue. I've really enjoyed teaching this year, but I'm glad that I won't be frequently drained or tired from doing so much every day. And what's cool is that I've begun a big writing project, so the diminished teaching hours will be replaced with lots of writing on that project, in addition to the other writing I often do on a weekly basis.

I think I should change my homepage at this point to describe what I actually do for work and my other interests, though I do list that stuff at my Googoo Plus page.

Anyway, through the end of the year, my work life will be more writing than teaching, with some of the usual radio work thrown in. I'll probably also set up another reading for the anthology and actually try to promote it more.

There's so much to do. I will have more time to write here, and of course, I will have more time to read Japanese!


Spelling mistake that makes sense

This sign spelled "daily" wrong, but in terms of non-English phonetics, the misspelling makes sense.


Language learning site

Oliver sent me a link to his free language learning site that has various European, and even some Asian, languages. I signed up initially for Japanese and added Portuguese, since it's such a hard language to pronounce.

There are a lot of features including audio, vocabulary lists, sentences, interactive quizzes, and more. The weak area is the "text" section: there are categories listed, but when I click on some of them, no text is there. But if I really want to understand Japanese texts, I can paste anything I find online into Popjisyo to see the meaning of words I don't know.

Anyway, check Oliver's site out--there's a lot of fun free stuff there.


Some beauty from Japan

I saw this at the Mainichi site: a field of flowers in the Furano Basin in Hokkaido. The article says that there are about 60,000 lavender flowers, and when the pleasant wind in the northern part of the country blows, the poppies, lavender, and baby's breath flowers sway in the wind. The article also says that the earthquake that Japan experienced this year has caused tourism to decrease, but during the current season, there tend to be several tourists from early in the morning on weekdays.


For the first time in a while, my mind is free

When I started this blog, and for a while after that, I read a lot of blogs and commented on several as well. Then things developed in my offline life that required energy and attention, and I felt like I was working so intensely in those other areas, that I didn't have the mind space to interact with other blogs as much or post here as consistently.

This year has been especially busy work-wise, and this week, I finally have the mind space to think about this blog and to seek out others. It feels great! I think the problem has been seeing my podcast get good feedback online and off, and get many hits on certain interviews. Meanwhile, while this blog has had thousands of visitors from over a hundred countries over the years, I don't experience much feedback, which makes me wonder what's going on out there.

Also, I've been writing for work, and again, there's feedback from clients and financial reward. But it's also the amount of work I've had that's caused my head to be filled to the point that I really need to decompress when I'm free, not post or read posts at blogs so often.

I post and read others' posts at Facebook, but don't write there extensively. However, maybe it's the interaction I like, even though I'm not a big fan of social networking.

Anyway, since my work situation this week has been very normal and manageable for the first time in months, I've decided to create mind space to post, read, and interact at other blogs. I need to mine the blogs I already read to see who they're linked to, and I'll take recommendations as well.


The Americanisms Brits hate

I saw an interesting article at the BBC about how annoying Americanisms are entering British English, followed by another article with reactions from Brits, who shared their own hated terms.

I don't use all of those terms, so Brits shouldn't hate me :D But here are the words I use that are listed there:
bi-weekly, transportation, turn, shopping cart, bangs, take-out, a half hour, train station, period, season, math
Actually, those words aren't wrong, they're just different because Americans use different vocabulary than Brits, obviously.

I agree with their opposition to various phrases because they're just incorrect, but one I'm particularly annoyed with is "Where's it at?" instead of "Where is it?" I often hear that around town.

But I have to admit that I sometimes use "I could care less" even though I know it's incorrect. I know the correct phrase is "I couldn't care less" but I hear the incorrect version so often, I end up using it, too. Sorry Brits and grammarians!

Note comment number 27:
"Oftentimes" just makes me shiver with annoyance.
I did a post about oftentimes almost five years ago, which people still hit today.


If only it were that easy

Someone sent me this video about how to write a novel. Just follow these steps and voila! It's that easy :p


FB translation fumble

I'm still using Japanese for my Facebook account, and when they changed the chat feature, I saw this message over my list:
友達と今すぐ会話 クリックするだけで、すぐに友達と会話が楽しめます。 [With just a click, talk with your friends right now, and you can have fun conversing with your friends right away.]
I don't know why that seems redundant in Japanese, but that's essentially what they seem to say. (Btw--we say "chat" in English, but in this case, they don't use the katakana representation of that word.)

Anyway, I saw that they had this in English after that Japanese:
Your chat availability settings have not changed.
And below that English sentence, it said:
詳しくはこちら [get details here] or 隠す [hide]
So I clicked on the "details" option and it said in English:
We don't have a translation for this content in your locale. Please select an available language from the right.
So after all that, the only language that was "available" was Japanese; English wasn't an option, even though they'd just given me a mixture of English and Japanese statements. Seems like they have to get their translations squared away. Or maybe I've confused FB again :D


This guy is *really* good at languages!

This guy has hit the big time: he speaks amazing Cantonese, and is already a sensation, so you probably know about him already. Now that he's been featured in the mainstream media, he's going to be even more of a star.


Another FB victory!

Over a week ago, I discovered that I managed to confuse Facebook, so the ads I saw were showing up in Japanese and German. Well I've done it again! Now the ads are in Arabic and French. Confounding Facebook is fun!


Can you find the mistake?

After I joined Google+, someone sent me this cartoon from a Google art compilation, but I noticed it's missing a word:


I've been enjoying the great weather

Chicago has bad weather several months a year: we hardly get any spring, and end up with several months of winter. So when it becomes sunny and warm, it's hard for me to spend time on a computer outside of work. Today is very muggy, so I'm waiting for it to cool off a bit before I go back outside.

So that's why I haven't posted anything here or even at my podcast: the weather is too good to avoid.

But I have had time to think about accepting reality, that just because we think we love to do something, it doesn't mean it will actually happen the way we want it to. I alluded to letting go of a dream in an earlier post, and the rethinking process is going okay, though it's still not easy.

That's why it's wonderful when it's sunny outside: we can get away from disappointments and let the sun soak our minds.

Anyway, I might be getting yet another online writing project, so I'm thinking of changing my homepage to be more business-oriented. I'm not going to go corporate here, but I think I should be letting the world know what I actually do for a living :p


Google on my phone is confused too!

The other day, I celebrated my ability to confuse Facebook, and now Google maps on my phone is confused as well.

I was looking up a tourist town in the Google search function on my phone, and the results were in English, but when I clicked on a map of the town, it was in Dutch! Not only was the map in Dutch, but the top navigation menu and anything else on that page was in Dutch, too. So I clicked on "internet" on the top, and it took me to Dutch Google! At the bottom of the page, it offered me Google in English, as if I don't already have such a feature on my phone.

I have no idea why that happened--I don't know Dutch, and have never even studied it. And of course, I've never used that language on my phone.

Weird, but interesting! I wonder what else I can confuse?


Happy 4th! Time for the Declaration of Independence

Today is Independence Day, when the colonies here declared independence from Britain in 1776 (not when they actually became independent--that happened in the 1780's). So to celebrate it, here's the Declaration of Independence. Enjoy!


Pizza I've never seen before

Kesan, aka the funny Chinese clown, is in his birthplace Chongqing, and has been posting various pictures to his Facebook page from China. Here's a picture of something I've never tried, or even seen: salmon wasabi pizza. Looks tasty, actually.


I have confused Facebook

I have managed to confuse Facebook! Sometimes I change the display language from British English to French to Portuguese to Japanese. Most recently, I've been using Japanese, which helps me maintain my reading ability, unless I'm on an archaic computer that can't render it. Then all I see are boxes of symbols.

Basically, when I change the display language, some ads appear on the side of the page in that language. Usually I would see English *and* the other language, but today, I noticed that *all* the ads are in German and Japanese! No English at all!

I think I was able to achieve FB Confusion because I keep changing my city of residence. What I usually do is choose a weird-sounding name or an obscure place. So I guess Facebook assumes I'm not in the English speaking world anymore.

In other words, I won the FB battle!


Happy Canada Day, Please

In honor of Canada Day, here's the cute video "Canadian, Please" by Canadians Julia Bentley & Andrew Gunadie (they wrote and produced it).


the House Hunters show is looking for people moving abroad

I was very surprised when I was contacted by a producer from the HGTV show House Hunters International because I'm not living abroad, and I don't usually get emails from media outlets.

Anyway, the producer asked me if I know anyone who is moving internationally because they want participants for their show. She said that the show:
is looking for enthusiastic individuals, couples and families worldwide to share their story about moving abroad. Participating in the show is a lot of fun and a great way to document your exciting search for a home and new life abroad. For additional information, contact househunterscasting [AT] leopardfilms.com. Please include a short description of your story and an attached photo of your family.
So if you, or someone else you know, is moving internationally, contact the show--you might end up on TV!



This is incredible: GIFs that have been created from photographs instead of drawn images. I found some of the best at a design site and have posted a couple below. This is taking GIFs to a whole new level, very sophisticated creations!


Some Spanish errors that English speakers make

Because I teach many Spanish speakers English, I try to find examples of mistakes that native English speakers make in Spanish to show them that we all screw up when we learn languages. I found a list of 20 common errors, though I have a more extensive list that I pass out to the students. When I find it online, I'll post it here as well.

Here are a few from the list:

Using "más que before a number instead of "más de".

False cognates "soportar" and "realizar" which mean "tolerate" and "to carry out", respectively.

Using "más" to indicate superlatives such as "youngest" or "oldest" instead of "menor" or "mayor".


In honor of Father's Day: bad English in Canada

I don't get it: this Chinese restaurant is in Toronto, a place full of lots of correct English and native English speakers, yet they didn't bother to find out how to write Father's Day. They could've even gone online to find out the correct spelling. But they didn't, which resulted in a typo. Happy Father Day!

(photo by Rebelx)


French stereotypes in French and English

This is a very charming and well-made video about French stereotypes that I saw at Mad Minerva. Below is the English version

And here is the French version


I gave up the writing dream but it doesn't bother me

I was thinking about how there are some things I like to do, but can't do them due to the dwindling and dysfunctional radio business. It was really getting me down and disappointed. But then I remembered that I used to be obsessed with writing fiction and thought there was no way I was going to move on until I got published or achieved something.

I wrote a lot, finished a couple of novels, started on others. I took writing classes, created a writing group and website, met published authors, went to readings, read a lot, and asked lots of questions. It started before I created this blog and lasted for years, I think.

But after writing in this blog and other places online, I realized that I liked the immediacy of feedback and knowing that readers are there. And the fiction writing process isn't like that. Even if you're lucky to get an agent and a book deal, it's not released for months, and even then you don't know what the public thinks, or even if you'll have any readers at all.

And there are the months or years of writing and rewriting, and you might not ever finish the book anyway. Or you might put in so much effort to finish it, for it to amount to nothing. So you never find your audience, and the book sits in a drawer.

Well after I thought about all that, I moved on from that dream, and I was okay. I actually got some opportunities to help with non-fiction books and do online and other types of writing, for which I was paid. And I never missed not pursuing the fiction writing dream, and didn't regret my decision to give up.

So now I'm facing another dream that's not really becoming reality. And I'm wondering if I should move on, like I did with fiction writing. I might discover that there are other opportunities out there that I wouldn't have seen before because I've been focusing on one thing so intensely. Maybe I haven't seen the other opportunities around me. I'm not saying I'm going to quit, but I think I have to create emotional distance and lessen the intensity to see what else is out there.


What a screw up

I have fun doing this blog, especially because there isn't anything at stake. But a professional columnist lost her job for fabricating information:
A review in the June 5, 2011, Sunday Sun-Times of a Glee Live! performance included the mention of a song that was not performed and a description of another song that the critic did not witness.
Wow. I'm careful about what I write, and when I'm paid to write, I make doubly sure the information is accurate and I'm doing what I'm supposed to, because I'm receiving money for the work and am accountable to others. I'm very surprised that a professional who is making a good living writing for a newspaper would make up information, possibly not show up to their job. And what's so hard about watching a performance?

I'd love for someone to pay me to write a column--I wouldn't screw it up or be dishonest. But I guess those opportunities aren't really there anymore.


Korean guy with southern accent

A lot of Koreans live in Chicago, but I have never met a Korean with a southern accent. This guy has one. It's obvious he grew up in the south.


I cannot put this book down

A couple of weeks ago, I met Rick Tramanto, who's a big-time chef. He ended up giving me a copy of his book Scars of a Chef. I was going to wait to finish it to give a review, but it's so good, I can't put it down and need to talk about it now.

It's about his dysfunctional background and the crazy world of kitchens, which makes me wonder how he's been able to function at such a high intensity without having a heart attack. It's also well-written, which really must be the work of his co-author, because he repeatedly talks about his dyslexia and lack of education in the book. Because his reading ability wasn't good, he had to work extra hard to learn the ropes of the industry and have a great memory and observational skills to take in all the information. It's not like he never read any cookbooks, but it's pretty clear he struggled a lot, and dropped out of high school and avoided culinary schools.

I can't believe what he's done in his life and how much he's achieved. For everything he's done and the extreme success he's experienced, he seems like a very down-to-earth, friendly guy. He does say in the book, however, that he was brutal in the kitchen and treated underlings harshly, just like the chefs that he worked with.

Anyway, give it a read. I might write about it again after I finish it. Or I might attempt the impossible and try to score an interview with him. I'm not Oprah or the other media megastars he's dealt with, so who knows how he'll respond :D


Typical plural mistake - documented!

This is a typical mistake: using an apostrophe to create a plural form. Why do so many people do this? And it's a business--you'd think they'd proofread their sign before putting it up for all the world to see. And the team is called "Cubs", not "Cub". Bottom line: this is lame, especially because it's on a public sign on a major street in a major city.


When Detroit looked normal

Here's a video of Detroit in 1954 that I saw at Rethink Detroit. It looks so normal with all the people walking around and the bustling atmosphere. Not like the decaying carcass that I visited last summer.


It's not "shitaki"

Wow, there are all sorts of words that are pronounced differently in English than in Japanese. Example: karaoke. The word is カラオケ in Japanese, so it should be pronounced "kara-oh-keh", but most people pronounce it "carry-okie". Another word is "sake". It should be pronounced "sah-keh", but people say "sah-kee".

Well another mispronunciation that I just saw in a commercial is for the shiitake (aka shitake) mushroom. I guess a lot of people pronounce it "shi-tah-kee" because I found out that even Merriam-Webster has that pronunciation. So it's official. Though that's not how it's pronounced in Japanese: it's シイタケ "shi-tah-keh".

I guess people feel like there has to be an "ee" sound at the end of Japanese words because "eh" isn't as strong. But what makes it sort of weird is that in English, an "e" at an end of a word isn't usually pronounced "ee". Oh well, there are a lot of people who aren't purists, including moi :D


One week later...a Chinese menu

I've flipped my work schedule, so now I'm teaching in the morning rather than the evening, and I'm doing my radio and paid writing stuff at other times, in addition to my podcast. So I've had to get used to my new schedule and get enough sleep to avoid getting sick again, so I let this blog lie fallow for a week.

But here's a picture fresh off the presses from Rebelx: he makes a Chinese take-out menu look so sophisticated. Enjoy :D


Western guy speaking fluent Taiwanese

Mad Minerva told me about this video: a Western guy speaking incredible Taiwanese. She said it's better than hers. I can't tell how good it is, but it's certainly impressive that he can do that!


A good blog that he forgot we're reading

I've been reading comedian Dobie Maxwell's blog, and it's very good. He's been writing there every day about the comedy biz, radio biz, and whatever else is on his mind for six years. I've only met him offline a couple of times, and he certainly didn't express as much as he does at his blog.

I let him know at Facebook that I like it, and he said, "It's a great discipline, and I forget that anyone reads it. I do it for me, and it feels good to have kept it up this long."

It's nice to see someone still write so much in a blog since it seems people have abandoned theirs because they've become busy, disinterested, or have moved on to social media. And then there are the blogs that are all about self-promotion and marketing. Dobie just seems to really want to express himself.


the Brazilian Kraftwerk site is done

First of all, I was going to post something yesterday, but Blogger was down for a couple of days. Plus, my crazy work schedule caused me to get sick again--this time, I've had a very bad cold all week. It's totally my fault because I did way too much this year. So this week I've been taking it easy and will resume a better schedule next week. I will also resume language study, which was also compromised due to the cold.

Anyway, I'm here to say that the Brazilian Kraftwerk fan site has been discontinued, though they still have the archive (what they call the "old frozen website") posted online. This is the same website that I did a huge translation for, which ended up being heavily edited (I was not happy about it, but that was five years ago).

I have no idea why they discontinued it other than what the site says, for "personal reasons". They put a lot of work into that site and were very nice people. It's too bad they couldn't continue.

Maybe now I can repost my translation and the original text :o


A bit of Chinese in a sneaker blog

Kesan, the Chongqing-born Chinese teen who first made his appearance here as the funny Chinese clown, now has a blog where he posts pictures and words about sneakers. Well I'm happy to report that he included some Chinese in a post about Air Force 1 Year of the Rabbit sneakers. He said the design is inspired by 大白兔奶糖 = Big White Rabbit Milk Candy. Thanks for the translation, and enjoy your sneaker obsession :D


I guess I've been wrong about possessive "s"

Uh oh...I've been following the wrong rule for years when it comes to possessive "s" after words that end with "s". According to IIT/Kent Law:
If a singular noun ends in an "s," use "'s" to create the possessive form only if the noun ends in a "s" sound. However, if the noun ends in a "z" sound, use just an apostrophe without adding an additional "s." This produces a more pronounceable possessive.

Correct: The car in question was Roger Weiss's red convertible.

Also Correct:

I was a student in Professor Abrams' Torts class.
I've assumed that you don't add an "s", though I've noticed Brits tend to add an "s". I better start writing correctly :o


Brief French and Japanese encounters

For two days in a row, I had some exposure to languages I understand but don't hear much: French and Japanese. A lot of languages are represented in Chicago, but for some reason, I don't hear Japanese much, unless I go to Mitsuwa, and rarely hear French, unless I go to the Alliance Française.

But yesterday, I was in a store and heard a couple behind me speaking Japanese, and it was so great to finally hear an Asian language I understand. At one point, the guy looked at a sign, read the English, then said in Japanese that he didn't understand what it said. I was tempted to say "I do" in Japanese and freak them out, but they probably wouldn't have processed it anyway and would've looked at me baffled.

Then today, I was walking down the street and heard a guy speaking to a woman in French. The guy sounded like a native speaker, and the woman sounded American, and she ended up being someone I haven't seen in a few years. Very weird. But unfortunate too, because my spoken French is lame. I told the guy in French that I can read it, and we exchanged some small talk, but I didn't attempt a real conversation.

I can't believe I finally had a chance to talk to a French person about whatever I wanted, and couldn't do it. I need to go to France to get that language in my head beyond the reading level :(


My phone is confused

I have no idea why my phone offered me a Portuguese or English option, but I decided to display Portuguese and input English. For a while, those two languages stayed separate, but one day, the display got mixed up. I don't know what caused the mixture, but it's like my phone is code-switching.

So now, within one menu or screen, I might have four options in Portuguese and one option in English, or there might be several options split evenly, or all the options might only be in Portuguese. The mixtures are so random, I wonder what rules my phone is following. If at all!

Another development is that apps or mobile websites will give me directions or displays in Portuguese, sometimes with a splash of English. It was amusing for a while, but today, I ran into some trouble. I downloaded the Nobex Radio app, and it assumed I wanted Portuguese, so it's all Portuguese, all the time. As a result, I ended up getting a few New York stations (probably because a lot of Brazilians live there) and other stations that I don't recognize. The app is useless--doesn't work at all. It's probably confused, too.

So now I have to exit the mixed Portuguese-English world to go back to all English so that I can get some stations that work.

I'd still like to know why my phone came up with Portuguese as an option. There are way more Spanish speakers in Chicago than most other languages. Why such a selection? Maybe because my Facebook was in Portuguese at the time (it's now in Canadian French).

Oh well, such is the latest installment of my language adventures :D


German grammar podcast

Even though I studied German and was able to communicate when I went to Germany, and have even translated it, it's really declined due to my focus on trying to improve my Japanese reading. But I've decided to shut out the world when walking around downtown and listen to language podcasts. One I found is "GerGerman Grammar Podcasts: German Grammar for Chagrin Falls High School German Students." I think Chagrin Falls is in Ohio.

Unfortunately, the teacher has not posted new audio files, but there are a lot in the archives. I hope he doesn't take his site down.


the Malaysian equivalent of "eh"

Jordan, who now posts more to his Twitter than his blog, posted this comment, which went to his Facebook: "Was talking to my buddy Ron on the phone & ended a sentence with 'kan?' He's Canadian. I'm...somewhat less Canadian now, apparently."

I had no idea what he was talking about. I know that Canadians often say "eh" at the end of their sentences, like we say "You know?" or "Know what I mean?", so I assumed that "kan" had the same meaning. However, I wanted to know exactly what it meant, so a Malay friend of his explained that "kan" comes "From the word 'bukan', which means 'not'. Cantik, kan? (Beautiful, not?)."



The guy who gave me a tour of a TV station let me interview him

A couple of years ago, I was invited to a TV station, and since then, I haven't seen the guy who gave me the tour at all.

Well he stopped working at that station as an anchor and now works at another one as a reporter, so I decided to see if he would agree to let me interview him for my podcast. Surprisingly, he said yes, so here's the interview. I've also enclosed the direct audio link if you're a subscriber to this blog.


My quiz is number one

Wow, over five years ago, I posted an American Culture quiz, and it's become number one in an online search. I know a couple of ESL teachers who use it in their classes, so I'm glad it's been useful. I remember when I first posted it. I got some feedback from the Great Language Hat, so I ended up revising it. The quiz was based on questions that non-Americans asked me, and I planned on doing a follow-up, but I didn't get any more questions. If you think I should create another one, let me know.


Another annoying accent

It's the end of another long day, and right now, my husband is watching Cake Boss. It's interesting, but I've gotta say it: Buddy's accent is very annoying, and his sister has an even more annoying one. I don't even know if that's the sister I'm thinking of because he has a few, so maybe they're all annoying. But she's very nasal and shrill and constantly nags him, and seems so high maintenance, which makes it worse.

But back to him: his accent sounds whiny and squeaky, and he seems like a mama's boy. I know he's not an actor, so it doesn't matter, but still. Maybe because I don't live in New Jersey, I just find those nasal, high-pitched accents grating, especially because they seem to deal with a lot of drama and are consistently complaining and explaining.

I just want to tell everyone to relax, it's going to be okay. Then maybe their accents would mellow out as well.


News over manga

I haven't been reading my Japanese manga lately because I have been reading the Yomiuri online (with help from the wonderful site Popjisyo). I really like the Yomiuri more than the other news sites. I don't know if it's considered the best, but it works for me.

I think because of the tsunami and earthquake devastation, it's hard for me to get involved in a seemingly trivial manga because I feel so bad for the people over there. At this point, it's hard to read both: I took on more work, and by the time I get home at night, my mind is too stretched to try to comprehend a lot of Japanese, so I try to read a bit of the news earlier in the day.

Honestly, I'm starting to regret taking on more work because it's really cut into my Japanese reading time, and has even affected my podcast. However, we're getting a spring break soon from school, so I will probably really enjoy that time off to resume more heavy-duty Japanese pursuits.

I hope they're okay over there.


Writer's block

Horacio, a guy I met offline after meeting him online via another online acquaintance, is an up-and-coming comedian who's been complaining lately about writer's block. Here's a video that he said he identifies with.


A brave man

Late last year, I decided to not watch much TV anymore, but I've been sick with the flu and cold (which is why I haven't posted anything here in almost a week), so I've been watching TV to get my mind off how I feel. Actually, I don't usually get sick, and I'm frustrated that I am. Plus, I stupidly went back to work too early, so I haven't recovered, and was too sick to go in today.

Anyway, I watched a Frontline episode about the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, and I highly recommend it. Earlier this year, his studio was destroyed by the government. His dad was also punished by the government, forced to clean toilets because he was a poet.

So I will join the thousands of others who think Ai Weiwei is a very brave man who will probably have to pay severely for his boldness.


Don't mess with nature

Scott Becher posted this video of the rapid destruction of Kesennuma in Japan. See more about how the tsunami destroyed that town at Japan Probe.


I'm so American

Wow, I didn't realize how much time passed since I last did a post--five days, which isn't awful, but is still a gap. I hate to say this, but I've been very busy. It's a very American thing to say when someone asks you, "How are you?" and you reply, "I'm busy!" It seems to be a status symbol in the US, but for me, it's just making me tired and forcing me to organize my time more wisely.

One of the things I've been doing is writing for people's sites. The writing I've done isn't under my name, so I won't link to it, but it just goes to show that the more you write, the more work you can get. I think this blog has helped me get work because people have been able to see what I can do and that I can stick with something for a while. Many people have abandoned their blogs, but I haven't, amazingly. I would like other opportunities to write online, but I have to try to figure out how to achieve that. Not only do I have to find the opportunities, but I have to figure out how to best manage my time.


Some wild English from China

This picture comes from a zoo in the hometown of the Chongqing-born Chinese teen who was also the funny Chinese clown. No need to say more.


the Romanian media: scary

Cristina shared this article about journalism in Romania. It is a must-read if you want to know about the corrupt Romanian media. They're no longer Communist, but they haven't moved beyond its corruption and control. For example:
Local oligarchs—rich businesspeople who are involved in politics and whose primary business interests are not in media—now own and control media. Usually their business interests are also the target of criminal investigations. The reason that they invest in money-losing media corporations is to gain leverage to negotiate with politicians to keep themselves out of jail. They run their media companies as they would a military operation, and like their predecessors, they, too, profoundly dislike independent and nosey journalists.
Even though it's about a country that probably not a lot of people have been to, or ever will (I went there in the mid-90's), it is a sad story of how a country can formally change a system but really not change its ways. Scary.


Great analysis of the Bieb

I've been wondering why and how Justin Bieber cops an attitude and speaking style that reflects apathetic, detached American inner city youth more than the Canadian town he's from. It's such a phony act--they've told him to speak as if he's from the West or South side of Chicago, not like the white suburban Canadian he really is.

Well tonight I heard a great analysis of his image, and I was so glad that some of his fellow Canadians were discussing it, because they were essentially saying what I've been thinking, and adding some interesting analysis about him as well.

Unfortunately, the CBC site doesn't link to just that episode, so you'll have to go to the Q show page, find the March 15 episode of the show (which today is at the top of the list), and go to the part towards the end where "Q takes a look at 'Biebonics', Justin Bieber's hip-hop style diction training." It's totally worth the listen!


Raw video of earthquake in Japan

The situation in Japan is so sad. I hope they will be able to recover from this tragic event. Here's a video that is a compilation of first-hand accounts of the earthquake. What I like about it is that it is raw, with no commentary, just video of different locations during the quake. I experienced a couple of minor quakes over there, in addition to a couple of minor ones in Los Angeles. They of course do not compare at all to the devastation that has recently occurred.


Japanese videos and stories of tsunami and earthquake

Of course, the whole world knows about the devastating tsunamis and earthquakes in Japan, and most likely, you've been reading and seeing all about them in your own language (ie, English). But if you want a Japanese perspective, check out News24.jp. Here are some links to videos and stories that I found. There are a lot more at the site.

1) Short video of when the tsunami first hit

2) Early tsunami damage filmed from above

3) Earthquake damage filmed from above

4) Longer video of all kinds of damage and people's reactions

Even if you don't understand Japanese, you'll be able to at least see the video that they shot. If you want to do a search at that site, you can use the kanji 津波 for "tsunami" and 地震 [jishin] for "earthquake".


Paczki overload

Wow, I think I should not have eaten paczki this year. In recent years, I've had the opportunity to eat just one of them, but this year, I could've eaten a few. I had one last week, one yesterday when a Polish student brought them to class, and was offered a fresh homemade one today--it had just come out of the oven--from my Polish boss. I was tempted to try it, but I was still feeling sick from the one I had yesterday.

They are uber-doughnuts because they're rich and thick, and are usually stuffed with jelly, cream, chocolate, or anything else that's gooey and good. Some of them look like doughnut sandwiches because the doughnut is split in half, and there's so much filling inside, it oozes out like an over-stuffed sandwich.

Even looking at that picture makes me feel nauseated because they're so delicious, but so sweet and rich. No wonder it's called Fat Tuesday (even though Polish people eat them on the previous Thursday).


It's the 21 century, yet some browsers can't show other alphabets

I'm just venting here because I was going to do a post involving Japanese and perhaps Thai links, and wanted to be sure I could read them before I posted them here. But as usual, I'm on a computer with a couple of browsers that don't render non-Romanized alphabets. Since it's a school computer, I can't load them because I need admin access, which I obviously don't have, but still--we're in the 21st century--we should be able to view any kind of alphabet we want by this point. Dang, I wonder when it will finally happen.


How to fold a shirt in Japanese

Someone who doesn't speak Japanese, and has never even been to Asia, told me about this video of a Japanese woman explaining how to fold a shirt. You don't need to know Japanese to learn how to do it, and if you do know it, it's a good opportunity to read and listen to the language, while learning something new. I also like how they have traditional Japanese music at the end. :D


Interview with creator of Shima Kosaku

If you've been reading this blog consistently, you know I've become a fan of 島耕作(Shima Kosaku), and I'm on my third one.

Well I've been reading different stuff online about that manga, and came across an interview with Kenshi Hirokane, who's the creator of the Shima series.

What's very cool is that he appeared on Taiwanese TV, and a bilingual anime fan translated it into English for us non-Chinese speakers in the world! Thanks dormcat!


Learn to talk like a pirate

This video is funny, and looks like one of those educational films from the 60's and 70's.


Good explanation of scanlation

Now that I've finally entered the world of manga (at least one series), I started looking into various kinds of terms for that subculture, and came upon scanlation: "the scanning, translation and editing of comics from a foreign language into a different language." And since Japan produces a lot of manga, there are a lot of scanlations out there, especially into English.

I found a very good explanation of scanlation at Inside Scanlation. Even if you have a basic understanding of what it is, this site will help you understand the history of it as well.


Manga helpers

I came across a site called MangaHelpers that encourages people to translate manga for others to enjoy. I can't believe how much has been translated into English, and they have lots of other languages, too. The FAQ page is funny as it explains why someone should become a volunteer translator:
Face it, if you know Japanese you have a skill that MANY people would die to have. Why not "save the world" by using it. Tons of people are grateful for the time you take to translate (even though sometimes they don't say it) so if you do take the time to translate, you are taking the time to make TONS of people around the world VERY happy. And, earning yourself some fame too.
I found a translation of a chapter from the first Young Shima Kosaku. I actually just got the fourth book in that series, but I don't know if I'd want to spend the time translating it, especially since I've been so busy lately.

I wonder if there's been a halt to posting Shima translations because there aren't many there, and at one point, the publisher Kodansha told the site to stop posting manga there (scroll down towards the end of this interview for the cease and desist letter they were sent).

Anyway, I know that this site has been around for a while, but I just discovered it now because I was really looking for something else, and just stumbled upon it.



Here's a word I haven't heard, which was just invented, actually: Canese, which means "Canadian Chinese". That was how Rebelx described the food he was having: Chinese food made in Canada. As an afterthought, he also thought of "Chinadian" as well.



I'm very happy (or "chuffed", as the Brits would say) because I finished another 島耕作 (Shima Kosaku) manga. It's a big deal to me because it was 220 pages, and I managed to read it pretty consistently, though it took me a few months. I bought it after I finished reading the other manga.

It was very good, and included some interesting situations that you wouldn't see in the typical salaryman's life, but that's why it's fiction :D

I'm planning on getting another one, probably next week. I'm thinking of reading the very first one of the series, when he first enters the company, which was over 20 years ago.

Meanwhile, I'm still working my way through a Japanese book about Twitter, which seems totally dry compared to the manga I've been reading.