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).