dorchadas: (Default)
Still plugging away at special projects at work. Still using an excel spreadsheet, as mentioned in my previous post, because there's no system for dealing with projects because everything that needs to be processed goes into a giant pond and there's no way of sorting them. Computers. Emoji Psyduck

When looking for a topic for today's Japanese class, I found the blog of a Japanese woman married to a German man and living in Chicago, entitled シカゴの夏は短かすぎ ("Summer in Chicago is too short"). There's not actually that much about Chicago as such, but there are articles about restaurants she goes to, quirks of an international marriage, travel, and daily life. I disagree with the blog title, but the articles are a fun grab-bag that's useful for practice.

That also inspired the title of this post, "Summer in Chicago is just right."

I also signed up for the JLPT, 3級. A friend mentioned he thought I could pass 2級 easily, but I'm not as confident. Emoji Sweatdrop I'm not really planning on doing anything special in terms of studying. I get plenty of reading practice with playing games, reading friends' statuses on Facebook, reading 世界の中心で、愛を叫ぶ with Aya-sensei, and now following a blog. I get listening practice at Japanese class and listen to some podcasts, and I get vocab and kanji study in every weekday when I use StickyStudy on the L on the way home. I just need to keep up my routine, keep reading stuff that I don't perfectly understand so I can learn something new, and not get discouraged. Easier said than done.

This weekend I took Monday off. I should take some JLPT practice tests so I know where I stand.

🍖 -> 🍗

2017-Sep-12, Tuesday 14:31
dorchadas: (JCDenton)
I made the first change in my lunch in five years, though it hasn't quite taken effect. Every day at work I have a steak salad with goat cheese and two vegetables chosen from tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, celery, zucchini, and mushrooms; a hard-boiled egg; and some dark chocolate. I decided to swap out the steak for roasted chicken and see if I like it, and if so, I'll switch over permanently. Enjoying the same food over and over saves me a lot of money--I've eaten the same breakfast for the last six years--but sometimes, a change is nice.

To my boundless surprise after my last post about it, the database upgrades apparently worked and it now runs as smooth as butter. Not a single crash or error yesterday or today. The real test is if it works through Friday. If so, I might be finally in the clear.

Might. I'm sure it'll be terrible in a couple months again.

I'm back to reading 世界の中心で while Aya-sensei is on vacation, and the protagonist is currently at a friend's house whose parents have a mussel farm. It means that there's a lot of animal-related terms that I have to keep stopping to look up. Sometimes I feel bad about about my animal-related Japanese vocabulary, and then I look up カワハギ and I realize I don't know what a thread-sail filefish is either. I at least know the common animals I'm likely to have to talk about in country living, like crows (烏), cranes (鶴), frogs (蛙), wild boar (猪), deer (鹿), cicadas (蝉), etc. You can just talk about fish by color, anyway, because that's all you can tell in a restaurant.

Exciting times.

Early May update

2017-May-10, Wednesday 09:37
dorchadas: (Link and Zelda sitting together)
So what am I doing in these, the last days of the American republic?

This Friday is another of [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's and my Shabbat dinners. After the turning of the year, we decided that once a month we'd invite a handful of people over, eat dinner, and then discuss whatever that week's parshah is. This week it's Emor, Leviticus 21:1-24:23. We've tended to get really good discussion out of even the more "the lamps shall be made of beaten gold" parashot, and Emor has a lot of material in it. Some of it especially discussion-worthy, like the ban on people with disfiguring injuries from giving offerings to G-d. I don't find this to be as jarring as some people, because I don't have a universalist concept of G-d, but there's good commentary on it out there I've found that I'll try to bring up during he discussion.

I just went and found a bunch of Legend of Zelda icons and added them. Since I'm only using half my icon space, and since I'm on a quest to play through every Legend of Zelda game, I might as well. And maybe I need a Legend of Zelda tag, too... Hmm.


Speaking of which, I ordered a copy of the Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time manga in Japanese! I've learned that the best way to get me to actually study is to make it an accompaniment to something I already want do--hence playing all these video games in Japanese--and when I idly posted about whether I should read it, [ profile] kelley.christensen1 mentioned that she had fond memories of reading it as a teenager. That's enough of a recommendation for something I already wanted to do anyway, and now it's in the to-read pile.

We bought tickets for [ profile] faylynne's wedding next month. Due to waiting so long because we needed to figure out [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd's summer program schedule, they were more expensive than I was hoping. I was expecting $750 and it was closer to $900. Fortunately, my sister lives in Portland and has offered to put us up, so we don't need to also pay for a hotel. [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd promised to cook for her to pay for our keep. Delicious!

We didn't do much of anything last weekend, or at least I didn't, and I'm looking forward to more of the same next weekend. Majora's Mask is longer than I thought, especially since I'm trying to get all the masks, so while I thought I would be finished already I won't be done until tomorrow at the absolute earliest. Probably more like Saturday.

I hope everyone else's weeks are going well!

Edit: It turns out that [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd has strep! The doctor said she's cleared for Friday, though, so she'll stay home from work tomorrow and then Shabbat dinner will continue as scheduled.
dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
This is normally a day when I'd be writing up a summary of our Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom game last night, but it was called off at the last minute when one of the players came home to find their apartment had been broken into! The thiev(es) didn't take much, fortunately--they even left the WiiU behind, which seems like a joke itself--but that's not that much compensation. And they are moving in a month...  photo emot-ohdear.png

So instead, I spent most of last night playing Majora's Mask doing the Woodfall Temple. I'm not sure how I feel about Majora's Mask's yet--I've already lost about an hour of time due to freezing and the save system only allowing saving by restarting the three-day cycle, but I love the focus on a small city and the people who live there. I can definitely see a continuation of Link's Awakening, with its weird characters doing strange things and Link stumbling into the middle of it all and trying to sort everything out. I just wish I had a better sense of what's going on.

It's the problem with trying to learn a language. I don't want to read children's books or play games with little dialogue, because then I'm not actually getting any practice in. Studying requires pushing into areas I don't know. But that means that I'm never quite sure I understand the plot. I've got a walkthrough open in the background because of these issues, and I've already made a couple major errors that confused me until I went to check, like thinking that the monkeys in the swamp had captured someone instead of being captured by someone (Xに捕まえられています). The broad strokes I understand just fine, but in a game where it's very important that I'm in particular places at specific time, I need to understand the nuances to be able to play.

I redid the background image on my Dreamwidth page so it's locally hosted and shows up in 1080p. I tried a couple images of Tokyo in the rain, but they didn't display up well--with everything else on the page, it was just a blur of neon barely visible in the background. Which I suppose is accurate to some nights I've spent in Tokyo, but it doesn't make for a good aesthetic.  photo emot-fuckyou.gif

Looking forward to a low-key weekend and hopefully being able to finish Majora's Mask!
dorchadas: (Yui Studying)
My last Japanese tutoring session was all about the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs. In English, these tend to be the same verb--"The box moved," "I moved the box"--and when they're not people get confused, like with lay (transitive) and lie (intransitive).

In Japanese, they're almost always separate verbs. That first sentence up there would be 箱が動いた and the second would be 俺が箱を動かした, with the verbs 動く as the intransitive version and 動かす as the transitive one. A huge number of English verbs that are just one word with two senses are two words in Japanese, like "to burn" (燃える and 燃やす), "to begin" (始まる and 始める), or "to finish" (終わる and 終える). And often the intransitive version is the same as the passive in English, even though the passive is an entirely separate verb form. Both りんごが売れた and りんごが売られた can translate as "the apples were sold," though the first sentence could also read "the apples sold" and thus can be modified by adverbs, like りんごがよく売れた, "The apples sold well."

There's a whole giant list of them here if you're curious. It's part of what I used to make my flashcard set.

And that, of course, doesn't get into nuances of use that dictionaries don't always explain. During the lesson I tried to say 戦ってる子供を壊した, but it's wrong. I wanted to say that I broke up the fighting children, but 壊す means to smash a machine. The word I was looking for is 別ける. Similarly, 見つかる is intransitive and 見つける is transitive, but if you want to say that you couldn't find something, you'd use 見つかる. 見つける has connotations of volition, so that would be more like, "I didn't find it (because I gave up looking)."

And the expression for asking for someone else on the phone is Aさんに代わってください, which literally means, "Please changes places with A-san."

Languages are hard.
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
As part of the LARP I'm taking part in, I'm playing a descendant of Izanagi, and since I already know some Japanese, I took it on myself to translate some important game speeches into Japanese for my character to recite. One of them I wrote myself, in a mishmash of modern and classical Japanese that would probably look awful to anyone who knows either version of the language, but another I translated from text provided to me and it brought to mind some of the choices translators have to make.

The whole text might be spoilers (for any other participants who read this), but here's a line where I had to make some decisions:
Should I break this oath may all my victories become as ashes in my mouth
And here is the Japanese I came up with:
Sensei wo yaburu to shouri ga ikotsu ni naru you ni de
The first part is fairly straightfoward--"To break an oath," but the と there after the statement indicates a natural consequence. Like, 雨が降ると濡れる--"If it rains, [you'll] get wet." It's a situation where the second part is an obvious result of the first part with no question. If you turn off the light, it gets dark. If I break an oath, my victories will become as ashes.

The second part I took a couple liberties. I'm not entirely sure how to express hopes and wishes in Japanese. " といいです" is the way in normal conversation--the same と as above, implying that if X happens it will be good--but that just a set phrase that's the equivalent of "I hope that [something positive]" and doesn't apply here. I ended up choosing a phrase from the wishes offered at shrines. "ように" is the way that ema usually end with, and so here it's implying the speaker's own desire. Not only is this a natural consequence, it's what the speaker wants as part of their devotion to fulfilling the oath.

Also, the usual word for ash is just 灰 (hai), meaning ash from a fire or cigarette or something similar, but I went with a different nuance. 遺骨 are specifically the ashes of the dead after the body has been cremated, so I wanted to imply here that breaking the oath would have a cost in lives. The victories turning to ash is literally others dying because of the oathbreaker.

I'm taking this to my Japanese tutor later today, so we'll see what she thinks of it. But I'm pretty proud of at least that part!
dorchadas: (Cherry Blossoms)
And I didn't spontaneously combust or have any of my exaggerated worries come to pass! Overcoming my anxiety like:

Sumo Dodge gif

I met Aya-san at a Starbucks in the Loop and after some brief English introductions, we spent most of the hour chatting in Japanese. That makes it sound much easier than it was, since I spent a lot of time trying to think of the right word or how specifically to phrase what I was trying to say, especially when I was explaining my favorite podcast to her--I said Revolutions, if you're curious--or telling about how [ profile] jaiderai conspired to set [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd up with me. But even with pauses and my missteps, we managed to hold a conversation!

Afterward, she mentioned that my vocab is pretty good--which it should be with all the studying I do on the L every weekday--and I told her that I don't want to work on writing practice with her, since if I want writing practice there are plenty of Japanese-speakers I know that I can post to. We'll be working out of the venerable old げんき textbook, which [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd fortunately still has from her college days and going over grammar and its usage in conversation, and then the lessons will just be chatting, which is exactly what I need.

Next week, I undertake that most classic of Japanese experiences: the 自己紹介 (jikoshoukai, "self-introduction.") Better get working on that.
dorchadas: (Teh sex)
So, I had a student named Moeko when I taught at Suzugamine. She was kind of attentive, and at least listened when people talked and tried at her work, but she hung out with a lot of people who absolutely weren't interested in learning English at all.

Well, apparently things changed a lot after I left. She got herself into the special English-focused class, went on a trip to England and stayed with a family for a few weeks, and found me on Facebook where she likes all my photos of food.

Anyway, I wished her a happy birthday a couple days ago, and we started a conversation, and after I told her I was taking a programming class, she said:
Which, if I had to translate into English, I would render as:
Except for studying, [university] is really fun!
Wooooow!! You're doing amazing things! But aren't you teaching Japanese along with that?!
...I only wish.

When people ask me if I know Japanese, my response is never "yes," it's always, "I get by," because, well, that's a lot more accurate. I'm pretty good at reading and writing, but my vocabulary is still lower than I want it to be and I have a lot of trouble speaking because of that. When I'm writing, it's easy enough to look up words, but that's obviously not something I can reasonably do when I'm in the middle of talking to someone without completely breaking the flow of conversation.

I think the big problem is that I'm bad enough at conversation in English, much less in Japanese. I'm happy to sit in silence a lot of the time, and tend to let conversation threads drop, or go to a corner at parties and sit and watch the action--there's a reason I picked a job where I don't have to talk to anyone. :p Add in another language, and even if you take out the worry of making mistakes or looking stupid while searching for the right word, it's still difficult enough for me to find the words to keep the conversation flowing. Unless I were to learn the vocab for talking about RPGs or video games in Japanese, I guess...

The thing is, I'm not sure how she got that impression. We've talked on Facebook, in Japanese or in English, but when I was actually teaching her I'm pretty sure I never spoke Japanese to her ever. She could tell that I understood it somewhat, because when the students asked me questions I'd answer in English whether they asked me in Japanese or English, but was that enough? Maybe she just thought that since I came to Japan to teach English, I'd go back to America and teach Japanese. If I wanted to be a teacher, I suppose it would be a reasonable assumption.

Really, this is just another of the incidents that renews my desire to keep studying Japanese.
dorchadas: (That is not dead...)
Somewhat prompted by real events that have since been resolved.

So, I was reading a book on Judaism a couple weeks ago, and there was an interesting story in there that really struck me. It was about one of the old rabbis who opined that if people were sinning in ignorance, but have no choice about their actions, it was better to not tell them. The reason being that if the people really can't do anything about it, then telling them what they're doing is wrong won't change their behavior. All it will do is cause unnecessary suffering as the people have to keep doing things they now know are wrong but have no choice.

That's very different from the tack I usually take, which is that it's better to know even if there's nothing you can do about it. But the point about suffering is a good one, I think--what's the benefit to knowledge if it doesn't change anything but just causes more pain? Is it actually worth knowing then? I would have said yes, but I don't know. It's worth thinking about.

Japanese lessons!

2008-Sep-03, Wednesday 19:25
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
I've decided to offer simple Japanese lessons here--partially for anyone who's interested, but mostly because I think writing everything I know (which isn't much...) out in a format for explaining to other people will help me remember it better. I'll do them every "when I get around to it," but I'll make sure to tag them all "benkyō" so they're easy to find. And now:

Lesson 1: Kanji and kana )


2006-Jan-31, Tuesday 20:20
dorchadas: (Broken Dream)
I am sick. I also called in to work, because Tuesdays are Baby Faces days, and being sick + hacking and coughing + upset stomach + babies = misery for everyone. I still had to go into work briefly, though, to drop off the supplies for Baby Faces so someone else could do it. Then I went home and slept.

It's happening again--I'm starting to get burned on World of Warcraft. At least, I'm starting to get burned on playing alone. As I've written here before, I don't often like playing single player games anymore unless there are other people around, and since that means they're stuck with just watching, the upshot is that I don't play many single player games. Now, you might think that WoW, as an MMORPG, is by definition the exact opposite of a single-player game, but a lot of my time playing is spent doing things alone. I'm rather leery of playing the game with random groups due to John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad it's wearing on me. This is not a bad thing--I think I've been justifiably spending too much time on the game lately.

In fact, that very same urge led me to do something different today--learn Japanese! Slowly. I got some graph paper out and I'm learning to write Hiragana. I'll deal with actual vocabulary and grammar after I've gotten Hiragana (and possibly Katakana) down. And then I'll have to buy a tape/CD set, but oh well. If I'm going to try it, I should be serious about it.


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