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February 26, 2004

Ms. Richson

Have you ever heard of Elizabeth Richson? I guess you have received a mail or two from her. She is a spammer. I don't know if she's real. Someone else may assume her name. The email got into my inbox two or three weeks ago. It's well written, because it's one of the few emails that have gotten through K9's might-be-powerful filter. I took a copy of the message since I was a bit interested in the content.

I'm a web master, and I was just searching Google for bed wetting for kid. I found your domain, hatano-es.com ranked 40, which is pretty cool.

My site is all about Home / Garden, too . Maybe we should link up? I wouldn't be stealing any of your sales, because all I do is write informational articles...not selling anything on my site at all. And most of my visitors write back to say that they love the fact that I only write good, quality info. As a matter of fact, I've got a pretty loyal following of people that come back over and over again (they use the site as a reference), so if you link to me, you should get some pretty good traffic from it -- which is always nice.

Anyway, let me know if you'd like to swap links. I've already linked to you, and will keep it up there for a few days until I hear back. Hope to hear from you soon!

Elizabeth Richson

My domain is ranked 40 in the category of "bed wetting for kid." Sure, I remember blogging about "bed wetting" a while back ago. I don't know if I should feel honored for getting the 40th standing, though.

The interesting thing is that there's no URL written in the message even though she asks for a link exchange. No links, which made me wonder what in the world she wanted by spamming me.

I googled the name and found that she's around. Would it be a new type of spamming or something?

February 20, 2004


Do you do anything to handle spam email? I do. Oh, Outlook? Forget it. I overlooked a plain fact at that time: After all, it's a Microsoft product. Period. I even disabled Office OneNote, which I had purchased with a lot of expectation. Doh!

Now that I have my own domain name and let my email addresses exposed on the Internet, it's a matter of course to receive a certain number of junk email. That's all right. But spotting such garbage in my inbox and manually deleting one by one is a great bother. So I've tried out various spam filters. One of my recent choices was POPFile. It worked great, to be sure, but I was not all happy with the evident speed lag it causes in downloading email messages and the number of false positives, in spite of the extremely high effectiveness rate it attained.

Then, I came across this neat program called K9. It's the same type of POPFile, using Bayesian filters, but works as a Windows application and is very compact and snappy. I instantly fell in love with the program. Actually, it's awesome. I've been using it for over a month and its overall accuracy rate is 98.9%. The effectiveness rate itself is, however, not a big deal for me. What impresses me is that, of all the 4,500 email messages I've received during the period, most of which are free newsletters, I've found only one false positive so far. Although it can't display two-byte characters correctly on the control panel, it has perfectly nailed down spam in Chinese. It's also been doing well in processing Japanese spam messages, the number of which is very small compared with English ones.

There is a funny expression in Japanese:


Itachi-gokko. Literally, it's "weasel play," meaning like "rat race." Fighting against spam email may well be like that. Tiring it may be, but why not enjoy it then?

February 18, 2004

Another Birthday

KEC Journal is now two years old. Wow.

February 14, 2004

Chocolate Day

I launched my web browser this morning to find that the Google toolbar on it looked this different.


Some of you may know that, in Japan, Valentine's Day is regarded as a day when girls give chocholate to boys. So, yesterday, a couple of girl students gave me chocolate during class. I'm glad even though it may well be giri-choko, literally "obligation chocolate." (^^;

UPDATE: Gav blogged about the Valentine's Day a la Japon. It's a nice read.

February 13, 2004

The Beauty of Kanji

Friday the 13th. On this very day 45 years ago, I was born. Mwhaaaa! I've gotten another year older. *sigh*

In commemoration of my birthday (or something), I'll show you a couple of kanji words that I like. I adore them not for their meaning but for their shapes, which look really elegant to my eyes.


葡萄 budo: grape


薔薇 bara: rose

Do you like them? You might want to ask me if I can handwrite them without looking at the examples. Well, give me some time.

February 10, 2004


With the use of computers, now I find myself having much fewer occasions to write by hand than I used to do. In fact, I feel more comfortable writing with the keyboard. And I notice one thing - that more and more kanji seem to be getting out my memory. It's not that I'm forgetting how to read kanji, but that I'm losing clues as to how to write kanji manually, and at times I have to stop and try to remember the "shape" of a certain kanji.

If you usually write things manually, your writing hand will learn the "spelling" of words, and you can write without effort. The same thing could be said about typing with the keyboard. But things are greatly different when you write in Japanese. Writing on a computer means you don't have to know exactly how kanji are formed. Kanji conversion programs, namely Input Method Editors, will automatically, and intelligently, do the job for you. Thus, your writing hands will be neglected, which brings about loss of training. Like English spelling, the more you practice, the better you remember.

Kanji are a very complicated script. But they ARE needed in Japanese. They help you to read and write smoothly. Without them, your reading speed would dramatically slow down, and also there would be a lot of misunderstandings. Kanji are one of the great gifts that were introduced from China.

So what should I do? I don't know. I can't even say whether it's a significant problem or not now. Interestingly, computers have enabled us to use kanji more comfortably - even difficult ones that we couldn't do otherwise. So, the kanji culture would never perish.

Anyway, I can still write my name in kanji by hand. It seems to be all right for the time being. Or....

February 7, 2004

February Actually

So it's February. Yes, it's Feb-yoo-ary at last. The word must be heard everywhere in the world now. For me, it's not Feb-yoo-ary, but Feb-roo-ary. Yeah, it still is. I'm stubborn about this point, kinda. Pronouncing it as Feb-yoo-ary is, for me, like saying "carry-okie" for "karaoke." That shouldn't be. Giving an inch, "car-rah-OK" would be barely bearable. Don't get me wrong, folks - I'm not criticizing or making fun of the pronunciation. Once taken in the English language, it's natural to be pronounced in the English way. Nothing wrong. As a native Japanese speaker, however, I find it funny for me to pronounce it as "carry-okie." For the same reason, I don't hate the way you pronounce February. Unlike Japanese, English is a language whose words are not always pronounced as they are spelled. So if you say Feb-yoo-ary, it's definitely Feb-yoo-ary, while I personally prefer to make much of the "r" myself.

Between you and me, I sometimes feel like saying Feb-yoo-ary, and actually pronounce that way in class every once in a long while, wondering if my students would be aware of it. And when I feel it's a bother to pronounce it correctly, I say like "Feb-hmm-ary." Come to think of it, the spelling of February looks a bit tricky. It would be a great relief for me if its spelling were, say, "Febuary" or "Febrary." Oh, and for many Japanese learners of English, making the "f" sound correctly is kind of hard because there is no such sound in Japanese. That's why, you know, the Japanese are not good at uttering "F-words" in English. ...Ah, excuse me for the lame joke. I regret it. So, wouldn't it be a good idea to change the spelling to "Hebruary" or "Hebuary" or "Hebrary" to relieve those fellows and promote better friendship? Wait...that's not a good idea, because the sound "he" (as in "head") can mean "fart" in Japanese. What's worse, "b-yoo" is the sound of wind. "Hebuary" sounds uncool. Besides, "Hebruary" could sound like "fart-brewery." Oh, my.

Well, sorry for all the bullshit. I must be tired.

February 2, 2004

Relative Pronoun

I've been busy, or enjoying, checking out freeware and shareware programs for the past couple of days without blogging. Seems like winter is the season when I feel like playing with online gadgets. I think I'll blog about the stuff one of these days.

Well, thanks guys for all the comments to my last post. My assumption was that, other than choosing neither, native English speakers would know without giving it a serious thought that "that" could sound better, even though "which" wouldn't be grammatically incorrect. And that's just it. An interesting thing is, if that was an English problem in high school entrance exams in Japan, most students would choose "that" too. That's not because they can feel the word "that" better fits into the sentence, but because they are just taught so at school. That is, when the words "the first" modify the antecedent of the relative pronoun, use "that" instead of "which." I won't go into the properness of teaching that way any farther on my blog for now, but that's the way English is taught here in Japan.

The goal of learning a foreign language should be to be able to use the language comfortably. And how to get close to the goal could differ depending on the learning situation.

If you happen to be interested in English education in Japan - relative pronouns are taught in 9th grade, and those that follow a comma in senior high. In the Japanese language, there's no relative pronoun, and all the modifiers of a noun are placed in front of the noun. In this sense, it's kind of hard for the Japanese to grasp and get used to the idea. Nevertheless, I think a lot of Japanese tend to use relative pronouns too much when writing English. It's an interesting yet funny phenomenon. Oh, forget about me. ;)