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February 28, 2003


Learning a foreign language is a hard job, especially when you study it in your country. In Japan, English is the language that people want to learn the most. Go to a bookstore, and you will find a great number of "English conversation" related books. Local English schools are crowded with people of all ages who want to master "English conversation." The fact is, very few of them will actually get somewhere. After all, English is a kind of fashion here. Whatever sounds like English sounds cool. And there seems to be a misguided belief that "English conversation" is something easy to learn.

You know, if I say some of trustworthy English schools, that would be Eri's, Tim's, and, uh, mine. Ha ha!

I think the time is sure to come when you have a "eureka" moment of the language as long as you keep studying in a proper way. M of NipponDAZE was timely enough to share her experience in her entry, saying "All of a sudden I can hear things and think things in Japanese." I'd like to say "Congratulations!" to her, because she's obviously gone over a crucial stage in learning Japanese. A real breakthrough. Yes, it comes all of a sudden. I still remember the moment when I suddenly got to be able to speak English as a college student.

That's a real joy of learning a foreign language.

February 27, 2003

Japan Bloggers

Although the new version of Movable Type was released on my birthday, I haven't upgraded to it yet. I'm using Version 2.5 now. When I upgraded to 2.51 last year, I had some CGI problem concerning the display of comment counters, and ended up downgrading it to the former version, which is why I don't feel like having the newest one. I'm quite happy with the present version I've been using now, but if you have found the new one worth upgrading, please advise me.

Soon after I posted the last entry, I got to know that Peter of SYDNEY NOTES is moving to Japan this August. It was a big surprise. Can I say congratulations, Peter? I have seen three fellow bloggers come and stay in Japan for the past year. Peter will be the fourth. Great! With the increase in the number of the bloggers who are blogging (in English) from Japan, I've made a new category of "Blogging in Japan" for my blogrolling links. Waiting for him to join the bloggers in Japan this coming summer. Oh, and I'm looking foward to seeing what the title of his blog ("???? BLOG" at present on his site) will be. :)

February 24, 2003

School Toilets

Peter of SYDNEY NOTES blogged in his February 17 entry about a recent survey done by TOTO, a Japanese sanitary ware company, on Japanese school kids' views on school toilets. More specifically, it was a survey about "defecation at school toilets."

To the question of "Do you use a school toilet when you want to do number two?", 12.1 % of the 988 elementary school children answered "Never," and 37.1 % "try not to." That shows about a half of them hate to use school toilets to do their bigger business. Amazing?

Here are the reasons they gave: 77.4 % said they simply don't want to do it at school. Hm? So, why? One is "hazukashii," hmmm... it's hard to translate, well, something like "shameful, bashful, embarrassing, shy, of not having a nerve to...." depending on the situation. Another is "school toilets are dirty, and stinky." Ah huh. And interestingly, a lot of boys answered, "My friends will make fun of me if I get into a toilet compartment." Opening the door of a toilet compartment and enter it means he will do number two there. Oh, yeah. Big one is something funny among them.

As Peter points out, 54 % said they don't want to use a Japanese style toilet. Honestly, I'm a little surprised at this figure. Kids can't squat?

Having said that, I can't recall if I would use school toilets for the purpose myself. It's strange, but there's something hazukashii in using them.

February 22, 2003


We watched the film today. Ah, no words.... Chopin's No. 20 in C minor is ringing in my ears.

February 21, 2003

Terribly Cold (Outside)

Hey, the calendar in the left side bar shows that there have been less entries so far this month. Seems like I have to stop this bad stream. But, come to think of it, I would post every three days about this time last year. So, simply, I got back to basics. No, no!

The lowest temperature has been around -25 C (-13 F) for the last couple of days here. That's awful, isn't it? Actually, I'm surprised at the temp. No joke but I didn't know it can be under -20 C in my town. Do you want to experience the cold? I advise you against. I understand why animals around here hibernate.

Contrary to the cold, there haven't been much snowfall this month. In fact, I haven't done "major" snow shoveling for the last month. That's also weird. My impression is that the warmer it gets in winter, the more snowfall you have. Anyway, too bad that I can't whine about snow shoveling on this blog. You know, I hate snow shoveling. Ha ha!

Aha, that's why I have posted fewer entries this month! No, no.

February 20, 2003


TheRich wrote in his comment that Google has purchased Blogger. I started out blogging with Blogger, so I want to follow how things will turn out to be. Hope it will be good news in the blogsphere.

Blogging has gotten much popularity for the last year or two. When I first saw blog sites, I felt something was weird. It was not blogging itself, but their comment systems. A typical blog site provides a comment link at the end of each entry. That looked rather messy to me at first. Until then, I had taken it for granted that emailing, or posting on guestbooks or message forums was the way to have contact with website owners. So, even after I actually started blogging myself, it didn't occur to me that I would place a comment system on my blog - for the first month. Things changed drastically when I decided to use Movable Type. The program had a comment system as a default feature. I kept it as it was just for fun. Just for fun because for one thing, I didn't think someone would post a comment on my blog, nor could I imagine my site would have a number of visitors. How could you find my blog? I was wrong. The blogging world was fantastic. I enjoyed blog hopping mainly through the homepages of Movable Type and Blogger, and I dropped by some nice sites that made me want to post a comment. If memory serves me correctly, in those days (wow, it's only last year), our friendship began when I posted a comment on the blogs by Jennifer, bcj., and tatroyer. To my joy, they were kind enough to respond to my comments favorably. I can't describe how encouraging that was for me to keep up blogging.

What I had in mind when I started this blog was "toriaezu," or "for the time being." After a year, blogging has become one of the big things I am into. Life is fun. And that I think is thanks to the comment systems.

Kurt, one of my favorite bloggers, told me that he happened to find my link on Mike Whybark's entry, and came here. Interesting.

So, folks, could you tell me how you found my blog? Just for the record, yeah.

February 18, 2003

One Year

I've been too busy (translation: lazy) to blog lately, but I have to say something today.

Today is a special day, for this blog. KEC Journal has reached the first anniversary of its birth. How could I expect the day to come when I started this journal a year ago? I express my thanks to those of you who have taken the time to post comments on my blog. Without them, this blog would have disappeared long before. And thanks to all the visitors who have come to read this humble blog. 278 entries and 931 comments. Wow.

Thanks again, and best wishes.

February 13, 2003

February 13

I turned 44 today. Yes, 44. FORTY-FOUR. Wow, I'm already that old? Yeah, I am. Around the time when I turned 40, I felt a decline of my bodily strength, that's for sure. But, aside from that, I don't think I've changed a lot from the days in my twenties. I still have the same spirit I had as a college student. The TV-game kid in myself hasn't faded away a bit. Basically, I may be a kind of Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky. Oh, I may also be a pessimistic optimist (makes sense?). That said, I think it's time for me to think about what I can and should do before turning 50.

By the way, during a class yesterday, a second-grade girl suddenly asked me, "Do you have a girlfriend?" I, taken aback a little, said to her, "Hm? If I had one, that would be an extramarital affair." Surprisingly enough, she didn't think I was married.

Now, folks, here comes a question:
Why did she think I was single?

1. I look so young. 2. I look so uncool. 3. None above.

If you answer it correctly, a nice prize....No, I don't know the answer myself. Fact is, I didn't ask her why. Ha ha!

February 12, 2003


I've been playing around with web browsers at the cost of blog entries. (^^; (cold sweat)

It all started when I installed Opera on a whim. I was amazed at the many useful features that it offers. Meanwhile, I came to know there are a bunch of excellent freeware browsers on the Net. Sleipnir was one of them. It's a Japanese program that uses IE rendering engine. It's as functional as Opera and fully customizable. (If you are interested, download the English beta version here. It won't mess around your WinOS Registry.) By using it for some time, I got used to tab-based browsing and mouse gestures, which I wasn't so interested in at first, and found them very useful. And Avant Browser also caught my attention. My first impression was it's much simpler than Sleipnir, but the interface is sophisticated and its pop-up blocking function is way better than Sleipnir's, which has to be trained from the scratch. But every browser has something to be desired, I should say.

Browsing through their support forums, I've come across cool free/shareware Net utility programs. They are really great. The trouble is, they are specifically tuned for Internet Explore. Roboform and ieSpell work with other IE-based browsers, but can't be integrated into their tool bars. Free Surfer and some settings of Ad-watch, which comes with Ad-aware Plus, can't. Seems like only Word Spring works in any program. After all, IE is a necessary evil.

So, for now? With the help of Nemubar (Jp), a Japanese freeware program which displays a search window in the tool bar, and supports site update checking and mouse gestures, and a couple of other IE-friendly programs, my IE has evolved into a multi-functional browser. I hear IE's next version will support tabbed browsing. Wait for it?

Well, I enjoy the process.

February 9, 2003

Red Dragon

We saw "Red Dragon" yesterday. Surprisingly, there's virtually no snow on the roads, and we enjoyed a neat drive. The film was good too. I got to know much about Dr. Lecter before The Silence of the Lambs. Anthony Hopkins rocks.

Thanks for the info on the license renewal systems in your areas regarding my last post. It's great to be able to know about things around the world with your help on this blog. Actually, as for the lecture thing, if you haven't committed any traffic violations for the last 5 years, the lecture time will be shortened to 30 minutes. And if you have done more than once during the period, it will be 2 hours! I envy you folks. ;)

Well, I haven't played Saturday Scruples for quite a long time. It's already Sunday here, but why not?

1. You're going out-of-town for a month and won't be using your new car. do you offer it to a friend who needs one?

It depends on the friend. If he's a right guy, I'd be glad to.

2. Your agent helped you when you were struggling. Now a large agency with powerful connections wants you. Do you dump your agent?


The environmentally friendly laundry detergent costs two dollars more than the regular brand. Do you buy it?

Well, ask my wife.

February 6, 2003

Driver's Lesson

Just been to the one-hour lecture you have to take when you renew your driver's license every 3 or 5 years. Do you have this kind of system in your country? It's a kind of ritual you are obliged to go through as long as you have a driver's license in this country.

As I'm in the teaching job, wearing the shoe on the other foot is an interesting experience. Practically speaking, the lecture itself is nothing more than something given for form's sake, showing the recent data of traffic accidents around the local area, discussing why such accidents happen, and calling for safe driving. So, I cannot help thinking about how hard the lecturer's job may be. I mean, those taking the lecture don't ask for it, not coming on their own will, and you have to talk to the crowd who, just sitting there, give you little sign of whether they are really listening or not. One hour is a long time.

Oh yeah, today's lecturer drew one (small) laugh from the crowd during the lecture. Good job.

February 5, 2003

A Good Fart

Well, as you may know, I've blogged about "toilets" quite a few times here. Someone even gave me the honorable title of "Toilet Master." But, oh shit, never have I thought of a "fart in the bathroom." This post is damn fun! How in the world could she write this beautifully? I bet you'll have a good laugh. Or was it only I that didn't know about this great blog entry?

(Via Lilac Rose)

February 4, 2003

Email language

Speaking of polite speech in Japanese, I often wonder in what manner I should write email messages to my wife (well, I occasionally email her, though we usually stay in the same house all day, ha ha ha), friends, or students. Using polite Japanese is a little weird, but there's no reason to sound too casual either. Not quite knowing how to do, I will write like talking to them anyway, but often feel funny myself. And especially, writing to my old students is a headache.

Email language is a new phenomenon, and maybe it's in the kind of transitional phase in the Japanese language now.

Oops, time to work.

February 3, 2003


Have you checked Jason's entry of February 1? If not, I recommend you do. It's a hilarious story of a Mr. Squirrel's ordering pizza. Jason gave so good a picture of the event that I read it through with excitement like watching an episode of a movie. It's the best blog entry I've recently read in the blogsphere.

In the give-and-take with the delivery guy on the phone, Jason realizes he's using overly polite Japanese. The Japanese language has various levels of speech that determine politeness, and you have to decide the way you talk to a person, as quick as a wink, sizing up your situational positions, ages and states of mind. Proper use of honorifics is the name of the game in communication here, which can be troublesome not only for learners of Japanese but for native speakers as well. And I rather like its subtlety. I usually try to use polite Japanese to whomever I don't know well. Being overly polite is better than being rude. I despise a guy who can use rude words when he is in the position of a customer or something like that.

By the way, I'm very curious to know what the hell Chris the "squirrel" said to Domino's Pizza to order pizza on the phone.

February 2, 2003

The Bourne Identity

So we went to see the movie in the snow storm. The weather's been so bad on weekends recently. Driving on a mountain road where everything's white, I felt like I was flying in the air. Oh, it's dangerous, isn't it? And it must be a Murphy's law - that you will encounter a big truck on every blind curve.

The Bourne Identity was a lot of fun, as you guys have said. Though I don't think I could fully appreciate the turn of the story, as long as I enjoyed the actions, it was all right. We will see Red Dragon next week.