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January 31, 2003

Emoticons

We use two-byte characters to write Japanese on computers, so Japanese emoticons have evolved on that basis. There are a lot of patterns of Japanese emoticons, and den4 has found an interesting website that features them.

When I started using the Net, I thought emoticons were the last things I would use, because I had the impression that they were simply Net geeks' stuff. I was wrong. Once I happened to use them, I couldn't stop.

Emoticons are a convenient tool to show your feelings properly. And especially in Japanese, where in many instances how you say speaks louder than what you say, they work pretty well.

I felt funny when I first saw the English version of emoticons. I mean, you have to tilt your head to see the face. ;) I'm all used to it now, though. :)

January 29, 2003

Depressing News

I was thinking of posting this last weekend. A Japanese guy wrote graffiti on a Moai statue. Unbelievable. His name should be exposed. I think the deed merits heavy punishment.

Dorky Japanese tourists and unprincipled Japanese media are messing things up around the world. It's nothing but a shame.

January 28, 2003

Google Asereje

Seems like, for the past couple of days, my site has had a lot of visitors who obviously want to know the meaning of "Asereje." Actually, this site is listed in higher places on Google Search results. *sigh*

Anyway, hi, visitors. You know, I'm not an Asereje expert or whatever. In fact, it was only several days ago that I came to know the song.

But you guys have come to the right place, maybe. Yeah, I searched, and found a cool explanation that will probably satisfy your question. You'll be able to sleep well tonight, eh?

By the way, I often wonder if you use the cached links first when Google searching.

January 27, 2003

Cold!

I got a haircut last Friday. After that, I said jokingly to my wife, "My head feels cold with my hair shorter, I feel like I'm getting a cold. Haha!" Yes, I WAS getting a cold. In the evening, I felt a little chilly. After the day's work, I had terrible chills that I'd never had for years. I had no choice but to admit I'd caught a cold, a very bad one. I told my wife so, and she prepared futon for me. Being in bed with a cold - I don't remember when I experienced it last. Well, maybe that was 17, 18 years ago. I felt a little better the next day, but spent the whole Saturday in bed. My wife took good care of me. And on Sunday, I was out of bed, feeling much better. We were going to see "The Bourne Identity" on the day, but canceled it. Hey, has anyone seen it?

So, I was offline for two days. Anything new? Hah! I think I was lucky to have a cold on weekend; I had a good rest. Be careful not to catch a cold, folks. ;)

January 24, 2003

Before and After

Hey, I have to say uncle.

I asked 7th graders during class yesterday if they happened to know "Asereje." To my surprise and, well, dismay, most of them knew it. They even knew that "Asereje" was so named because a part of the lyrics of an English song sounded like "Asereje" to the sisters' ears, and so the title itself has no special meaning in Spanish. Well, I should have asked my students first.

A little shocked, I asked my wife about the song just in case. Sure enough, she knew about it as well, saying she saw them on a Japanese TV program last year. Last year? They came to Japan last year! Wow.... I should've asked my wife first.

Seems like only I was behind time.

Well, changing the subject, bcj. has started a very interesting project on his site. I've already submitted mine. Check it out!

January 23, 2003

Ears Playing Tricks

Yeah, I've been enjoying "Asereje." Funny thing is, in some part of the lyrics, the words sound like "sutakora sassa" to my ears. "Sutakora sassa" is a funny way of expressing "scurrying away" in Japanese. "Asereje" rocks!

Have you ever found it funny that certain foreign words or phrases sound as if they were the ones in your language?

When I was a kid, I thought the words of "Oh When the Saint" sounded like "Oh, en da sen, go machi ni." Well, "en" is "circle", "da" "to be", "sen" "a thousand", and "machi ni" "to town". So I was amused to imagine that the song was going like, "Oh, they are circles! A thousand! Go to town!"

I've heard somewhere before that the late Emperor Showa had a habit of saying "Aa sou," meaning like "Ah, is that so?" or "Ah, I see." And it sounded just as "Ah so!" So, his foreign visitors or hosts understood so. Oh, is that so?

January 22, 2003

Asereje

The tune was sticking in my head all day yesterday. So I downloaded the song "Asereje" and am playing it now. The melody's mixed humorously with the Spiderman's dancing. It's damn fun and funky. Yes, I've searched the group called "Las Ketchup" too. Why "ketchup"? OK, it's much better than "Mayonnaise" anyway. "Asereje" seems to be a fairly new song. Oh, but I feel it has an atmosphere of disco music of 70's. They rule!

By the way, what does "asereje" mean? I tried some online Spanish-English dictionaries but found no match with the word. In Japanese, "ase" sounds like "sweat," and "je" "fart." Hahaha. "A-SE-RE-HE" rules!

Meanwhile, it seems like zanshin is back from a long sleep. Welcome back, Paburo! OK, today is a Spanish day. Yeah.

January 21, 2003

Opera & Spiderman

I've just installed Opera 7 Beta 2, and it's damn cool! The "Wand" feature, which enables you to log in to password sites automatically, works much smarter than IE's. And the pop-up blocking feature now offers an "Open requested pop-up windows only" preference, so you won't have any trouble opening comment windows widely used on blog sites.

I hear Opera has some CSS displaying problems. But it seems the Version 7 has improved a lot in this respect as well. My site looks all right on the latest version! And tatroyer's site looks, uh, much better. ;)

For those who are tired of reading Opera stories:

Here, Spiderman is dancing. The music's good, too. What language is it by the way?

(Via 100SHIKI)

January 20, 2003

Blogging languages

Ben and Mena, the creators of Movable Type, came to Japan and Tokyo bloggers got together for the meet-up last Friday. Well, I wish I could have attended the gathering to say thank you to the great couple for the great web publishing system. Geographically, living in a rural town in Hokkaido is kind of like living in a foreign country.

I'm amazed to know there were about 40 bloggers gathering around. I don't know the proportion of nationalities, but it seems there are a lot more Japan-based bloggers than I've imagined.

And it's a welcoming trend that the number of Japanese bloggers who blog in Japanese has dramatically been on the rise since around last summer. As I got into the English blogging world initially, encounters with those Japanese blogs have brought a kind of strange yet fresh sense to me. Besides, there sure are a number of interesting blogs that make me want to visit regularly.

Blogging in Japanese - sounds nice, doesn't it? Though I've been blogging in English and enjoying it, I think blogging in Japanese is not bad too. But, interestingly, I personally feel more comfortable with blogging in English than in Japanese, my mother tongue. It's not, of course, that I'm that proficient in writing English; English is first and foremost a "foreign" language to me. The thing is, there are certain things or ideas that I can write comfortably in English, while not in Japanese. And vice versa. That may come from the structural and cultural differences between the two languages. The way you write could be different on some level in using a completely different language. In a sense, I get a kick out of it.

In his Japanese blog, Ken Loo writes that he's been wondering why there are some ideas or feelings that he can't express well in Japanese while he can in English. And so, he says, he's been blogging in English too. I know how he feels and agree. Both are foreign languages to him, and I admire him for his amazing language skills. Hope he will find the answer some day.

January 18, 2003

Opera 2

Oops, I forgot to check my site in the last post.

Opera shows my site like this. No problem, it seems. Wait! There is a BIG problem! Look at the bottom of the browser. The horizontal scroll bar appears there. Oh.... I do hate it, but why? I have to see.

Also, the cute mouse is trapped at the end of the column. "Marquee" isn't compatible with Web Standards, and so Opera doesn't support it. All right. I don't complain. Poor thing, Nezumi Kozo, but just wait there until I find out some good way to save you, if ever there is one.

Thanks to the great website Tancred advised me to visit in his comment, I'm getting the clear picture of the software. Opera is attractive, I should say. I'm not so interested in its "small and fast" feature, one of its selling points, because I don't have any stress in using IE6 now, and neither am I that excited about mouse gestures and keyboard shortcuts - I'm an analog guy. But Opera provides a lot of useful features that are easy to use and customize, and its security and privacy features are hard to ignore.

Hmmm...seems like I have found another thing about which I want to learn for a while.

January 17, 2003

Opera

I installed Opera just for fun. I'm not sure what's really good about the browser, but if it's worth using, I don't mind changing to it. I'm not so particular about browsers, though.

I hear it can't display pages well depending on the site (even though it's probably due to IE issues), so I checked my fellow bloggers' sites with it. Seems like, among other sites, the following four sites have a little problems with the browser.

NipponDAZE looks like this. Each link is surrounded with the white background. I don't know why, M.

Nowhere seems to be all right. But the font of the Time-Link-Comments part is big. I don't think it's what Jeff means to do.

RUHome's credit part also looks bigger than the other parts. What do you think, TheRich?

Oh dear, tatroyer, I bet you don't like Opera, right? ;)

So, my conclusion for now is that I'll use Opera just for fun. ;)

January 16, 2003

Driver's License

Just been to the local police station to renew my driver's license. You have to renew the license every 3 or 5 years in Japan. If you haven't committed any traffic violations for the past 5 years, you are granted a 5-year expiration date. Even if you have, if that was a minor violation and done only once during the period, you are given 5 years too. Otherwise, your expiration date will be 3 years.

And what about me? 5 years of course!

Well, actually I got a speeding ticket 4, 5 years ago. That was on a mountain road, and the police car was hiding neatly beside it. When I noticed the car, it was too late. Interestingly, I felt they did an artful job, rather than feeling angry. One of the policemen said, "I know how you feel about the legal speed. I don't say you have to keep the speed limit all the time, but please be careful not to speed exceedingly."

Fortunately, that was a minor violation.

January 15, 2003

Stars

Here are the very first photos I've displayed on my blog. They are my parents' dogs. My brother took the pics during the New Year's holidays. Cute, aren't they?

Miyuki
This is Miyuki. We call her "Mii-chan".
Akane&Aobe
Akane (left) and Aobe.
Pochi

Pochi. 14 years old. He's aged and become a little weak in the legs. Hey, cheer up, Pochi!

January 13, 2003

Bee Gees

I'm deeply shocked to hear that Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees has died. I can't say I'm a devoted fan of the group, and don't know how they have actually been doing. But the name reminds me of such great songs as Massachusetts, Melody Fair, and a series of the "Saturday Night Fever" pieces. To me, "How Deep Is Your Love" is definitely one of the best songs of all time. It always comes with good memories of my college days.

May he rest in peace.

January 12, 2003

Driving in Winter

I went shopping in Kitami with my wife yesterday. We often enjoy this short drive there, at the distance of about 100km (62 miles) from our town, on weekends.

In winter, the drive will be a thrilling one.

And it was rock 'n' roll yesterday. Imagine driving on a skating rink, and that on a bumpy one. In a TV commercial of studless tires, they say it's not ice itself but water on it that makes your car slide. I'm no good at physics (Is it a physics thing anyway?), but I get it from my experience. It is said that when the air temperature is around -4 to 0 C, snowy roads will be most slippery. If so, roads in Hokkaido in winter are generally pretty dangerous. And I can agree it's much safer in super cold regions.

Even in such conditions, there always appear some morons that seem to believe they are always safe whatever they do, regardless of the troubles they will possibly give to other drivers. Yeah, there are a lot of reckless drivers in Hokkaido. No wonder this prefecture keeps the highest number of yearly traffic deaths in Japan. That sucks, really. Me? Well, I'm talking about other drivers. *cough*

So anyway we enjoyed a safe drive home yesterday.

January 10, 2003

Broadband

Now I enjoy browsing websites that discuss things about ADSL. As far as PC and the Net things are concerned, once I have interest in something that I haven't known well, I will get really involved in learning more about it for a while, and, in many cases, end up being tired of it. In this way, my knowledge about those things is far from perfect, but it's way better than nothing. It's great you can always have something you are into. And as long as you have interest, you can learn things much better. So, if you are interested in a foreign language, now is the time to start learning it. (Hey, what am I talking about?)

New to the broadband world, I'm like a country boy wandering around a big city. I mean, I'm wondering how to enjoy it. I don't have to stay away from websites with streaming video or audio any longer. I've enjoyed the funny videos that tatroyer mentioned on his blog. Oh, and Internet Radio is now available. I've found WARX.com and enjoy listening to good oldies. It's kind of funny even the songs that were released before I was born give me some nostalgic feeling. It's cool. And if possible, I want to listen to the music of 70s and 80s. Do you know one?

January 9, 2003

ADSL Frenzy

It's been two weeks since I started using ADSL. Yeah, I'm quite happy with the broadband connection. It's fast enough to make my ISDN days look like ones of ascetic practices.

But there was a problem since the change to ADSL: My IE6 froze whenever checking updates at the Windows Update site. Besides, I couldn't submit forms via my browser at some websites. At first I thought there was something wrong with my IE settings, which turned out not to be the case. So I figured the connection might have some uploading problems. I went to dslreports.com and tested my line speed. The results were surprising. 13 kbps?! What the heck is this upload speed?

Not knowing what to do, I searched the Net for solutions, and found there were some connection tune-up freeware programs. I downloaded one of them and ran it. I don't know what it actually changed, but it worked. Seems like my current upload speed is around 600 kbps. No problem with Windows Update. Wow.

In the process, I learned a lot about ADSL. I don't understand what "MTU" and "RWIN" really are, even what they stand for, but it's always exciting to learn new things.

Yes, this is what I've been doing for the last couple of days without blogging. Oops, if I hadn't updated my blog today, I would have had more losses than wins (4-5) so far this month. That should be avoided. ;)

January 6, 2003

Snow Blues?

Happy New Work Day, eh? It's a White Monday.

Japan's new year began with heavy snows. I'm surprised to hear it even snowed 8 cm (3.1 inches) in Kagoshima. Oh yeah, I'm all right. Even though the poor-skilled town snowplow guy left heavy masses of snow along the road in front of my house, I managed to clear them away, well, to some extent. I was so energetic on that day that I felt like doing push-ups after the snow shoveling. (No, no)

Yesterday, I spent the whole day struggling with my wife's PC that had been cranky for the past couple of days. In the end, I overwrote the Windows half in desperation and resignation, and, to my surprise, it came to work all right. All's well that ends well, anyway.

So my blog gets back to normal from today, hopefully.

January 4, 2003

First Work

Most people get the first three days off for New Year's in Japan. That means, as a general thing, work in the new year starts today. But since it's Saturday, the real start will be on the 6th. I bet it will be a grand Blue Monday in Japan, especially after the lazy New Year's vacation.

It looks like my first work of the year will be snow shoveling. It's been a very cold winter so far; colder than the average year by 5-6 degrees centigrade. Although it hasn't snowed very much, the snow has piled up without melting away a bit because of the low temperature.

But...it's pretty warm today. The temperature may be around 2 C (36.6 F). Yeah, that's all right with me. I like warmer weather, you know. But again...it's snowing. It's likely to be a heavy snowfall. Come on! Warmer temperature and snow -- What do you think this sweet combination will make? Wet snow, I mean, SUPER HEAVY SNOW! Aargh!

If this site isn't updated tomorrow, please worry about my safety.

January 3, 2003

Resolution?

Gee, it's January 3rd already. Time really rockets past. So, my New Year's Resolution is --- to blog every day all through the year. Hey, that sounds cool, doesn't it? I achieved a perfect month last year. So why not...hm? Wow, I missed posting yesterday! Haha. That's the way my Resolutions will go. Well, actually I have never made New Year's Resolutions. Don't ask me why. Anyway, I want to keep up blogging this year too. But since I tend to get tired of things easily, it's possible I'll give up blogging all of a sudden. Stay tuned to see if it's really the case with this blog. ;)

Well, joking aside, I'd like to reflect on and improve my teaching skills this year. Although I've been teaching English for about 19 years, I've never been satisfied with the way I teach. You know, learning is one thing, but teaching is totally another. Yeah, I'm working.

January 1, 2003

2003

Happy New Year!

Kadomatsu
Best wishes for the Year of the Sheep. Sheep