Sunday, November 28, 2004

Shimane in the news

My subscription to The Daily Yomiuri has turned out to be quite worthwhile. Though most of the news and advertisements are centered in Tokyo, today's DY has a story, well, kind of featuring Shimane.
Driver lets woman off bus on Hamada Expressway
The Yomiuri Shimbun
HIROSHIMA—A bus driver has been fined for stopping on the Hamada Expressway in Chiyodacho, Hiroshima Prefecture, to let a 76-year-old woman get off the bus, it was learned Saturday.

The express bus run by Iwami Kotsu, which is based in Masuda, Shimane Prefecture, was traveling from Hamada in the prefecture to JR Shin-Hiroshima Station. The 53-year-old driver passed Chiyoda-Nichi bus stop at about 10 a.m. on Nov. 13 without noticing that the bell to stop had been pushed by the woman.

The woman asked him to stop and let her off on the expressway near a door to a road for emergency vehicles. But after leaving the bus, the woman found that the door was locked and was forced to walk back to the station on the side of the expressway. A driver who saw her walking informed police, who came to pick her up.

Yep, good ol' Shimane-ken. Let other prefectures make the news with reports of their group suicides and anti-social family-murderers. We'll take care of the negligent bus drivers.

Everybody to the limit!

You know what I just realized?

I don't think I've seen a single bumper sticker since I got here.

Which makes me feel better about getting one of my own.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Juice juice juice

Juice juice juice juice juice juice juice
I'm going to get some juice.
I like juice.
Grape juice, orange juice, apple juice, peach juice.
Juice juice juice.
Juice. Juice.

See how juice hardly seems like a word anymore?
The harder you think about it, the more it just sounds like a bunch of meaningless sounds.

This is what's happening to me with the entire English language.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Fraud Prevention

So I got a letter in the mail last week from my bank. "I've tried several times to reach you by phone to talk about recent activity on your account. Please call us as soon as possible."

Oh, I thought, they're probably just scratching their heads over the fact that I've kept a positive balance for the last four months, or something like that. I wasn't in a hurry to contact them, but when I got home tonight from Matt's impromptu party I figured, well, it's noon in New York, and I'm awake; might as well ring the bank.

Turns out, that wasn't it at all. Four attempts were made to charge something to my debit card in mid-October. All were rejected because the wrong expiration date was given.
17th: $1
19th: $202.30
20th: $183.69 (twice)

All of these charges were made to Card Call Service. I'd never heard of it, and I agreed with Manuel (the fellow who took my call) that this did seem very suspicious, and that I should cancel the card and get a new one. While I was on hold, waiting for someone who would confirm that my card had been cancelled, I kept trying to think of reasonable, non-fraud explanations for this. None of my bills in Japan are handled through my US account, or my debit card. Only one bill State-side is automatically withdrawn from my account, but again, that's through my actual bank account, not through the debit card.
Then it dawned on me.

I received my new debit card in early October, since the previous one was set to expire in September (add a week or two for the trip to Japan). I waited a few days to activate the new card, since I wasn't in any hurry to do it, then cut up the old card and threw it away.

Within the Shimane JET community, we sometimes talk about whether our neighbors are going through our trash, re-sorting it for us; a few of us know for sure.

I guess I know for sure now, too.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

RPS Society

I can't make up my mind!


Joe e-mailed me last night, and I responded. I figured it's easier for me to cut and paste what I wrote than compose something else, so here it is:
Yesterday was full of ups and downs for me. Once in a while (in Japan or back home), I'll have one of those dreams that upsets me terribly in Dreamland, but after I've been awake for half an hour I kind of wonder what all the fuss was about.

I found out Friday that one of my students is in the hospital, and has been for several weeks. He's in Tottori, a neighboring prefecture, so I assume it must have been something serious. So I went yesterday with his homeroom teacher (one of my JTEs) to visit him, so she could give him some schoolwork. She told me he'd had two surgeries, but that he was doing better. I guess he really is doing better, cos we couldn't find him in his room at first, and after looking for a nurse or someone to help us, we saw him coming up the hallway, returning from the gift shop. He still has a tube in his throat, so he can't talk (not that I could have understood him if he did), and doesn't seem to have regained his full strength yet, but he was very happy that I lent him my copy of the newest Zelda game for Game Boy Advance. Poor kid must be bored out of his mind.

So yesterday I had something to do (visit a student), and someone to do it with (my JTE, who is the one with the mad English skillz, and is fun to talk with), but as soon as we parted ways in Matsue, and all the way back to Nita, I felt terribly lonesome. To top it off, I decided to watch Casshern. I'd seen it once before at a friend's house, but I enjoyed it so much I wanted to see it again. I'd just forgotten what a sad, sad movie it is. I don't think a movie has made me cry since I was six. In America came close, but I was in a theater with my dad, so that would have been not cool.

I'm actually in a pretty good mood right now. I have something to do (go to Taisha for a big Japan-wide festival--about the only thing our prefecture is known for; it's the time when all the gods all over Japan come to Taisha to discuss matters for the next year), and someone to do it with (I'm picking up a friend on my way, and we'll meet up with other JETs there), so I'm set.

Saturday, November 20, 2004


Today I woke up crying and went to bed with raw eyes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Road Mirror

I've uploaded more photos.

Click on the one above to see them all.

Oh, did I mention I have parakeets?


Sunday, November 14, 2004

America's Favorite Cookie

Last week Dad mailed me a package with some nice goodies which included a package of Oreo cookies. I can get Oreos here without a problem, but only in smaller packages. I wasn't really sure how I was going to use up this larger one (which is "regular size" in the States), but I was just about to head into Nita JHS to help a couple of kids prepare for an English exam, so I brought the cookies with me.

As I was changing my shoes, three girls who were standing near the entrance greeted me. Their eyes fixed on the cookies. "Hungry?" they giggled. I'd half-forgotten what I was carrying, then realized they probably had never seen such a large package of Oreos before. So I asked if they wanted one. "Yes, please," they answered, after much giggling and glances between each other and the cookies. They gladly accepted a second cookie each, as well, just before I headed off to the teachers room.

Tane-sensei, with whom I was supposed to help the students studying for the exam, was on the phone in what seemed to be a very important phone call. She apologized non-verbally several times as I waited, but it didn't bother me much. There were still a few teachers around (it was after 5:30pm), so I offered them some cookies. "Itadakimasu," they said cheerfully, before eating them. Since I knew the cookies themselves weren't anything strange and wonderful, I showed off the English packaging. "America's Favorite Cookie," it proudly proclaimed. The back of the package showed pictures of other varieties of Oreo: mini Oreos, Double-Stuffed Oreos, peanut butter and chocolate Oreos, mint and creme Oreos, and all-chocolate Oreos. Mini Oreos they have here, but they were intrigued with the flavored ones, and quite amused that some Oreos have twice as much filling.

Tane finished her phone call, and we went to the conference room where the two students were waiting. "Should I bring the cookies?" I asked. "No," she said, "the students can't have snacks."


All I did with the students (both boys) was act like someone giving them an oral test. I showed them a picture with a paragraph related to the picture, and they read the paragraph aloud and then answered some questions about the paragraph and picture, and then some questions about themselves. It was pretty short. We (Tane and I) also told them how they could have improved their answers. The first boy did a good job; he answered all the questions quickly and correctly. The second one had a harder time with it.

When we returned to the teachers room, I offered Tane some cookies (she had declined earlier, wanting to wait until after the test preparation session). After eating them, she said, "I think these are better than Japanese Oreo cookies."
"What? They taste exactly the same."
But another teacher who had eaten some agreed, and they could not be swayed.

Later that night was the English conversation class (eikaiwa). I'd borrowed some "proverb cards" from Tane. They have, well, short proverbs and sayings on them, half on one side, and half on the other. Ones like, Accidents/ will happen, and Be faithful/ to yourself. She taught me how to use them to play a game, so that's pretty much all we did in eikaiwa. After the game, we discussed the proverbs (though I also handed out a sheet that had the Japanese translations of each proverb). I went down the list and explained in what circumstances we might use each one. I taught them a few others that weren't on the list, and they shared with me some Japanese proverbs that are similar to English ones. For example, the Japanese counterpart to Accidents will happen is roughly, The dog walks and gets hit by a stick.

"That's it?" I said. "Just, the dog is walking, and it gets hit by a stick?"
They laughed.

A couple of proverbs on the list I wasn't really familiar with. Take the lead, and you will win, for example. "The sentiment is certainly present in Western culture, I just haven't heard this particular saying." But I was puzzled by To lose is to win. "I'm not sure what's going on with that one," I said. Tane confirmed what I'd been thinking: "Maybe it is really Japanese."

I taught them, Fish and houseguests stink after three days. That might not have been such a good idea. One of them said, "I did a homestay in another country for two months."
"Um, homestay is different. The proverb means, like, if you show up at someone's door and say, 'Hi, I'm in town, can I stay in your house?' you shouldn't stay for more than three days." To make myself clear, I added, "If I invite you over to my house for ten days, then it's okay for you to stay ten days."

The woman (whose name I have forgotten) who lived for a few years in Canada and New Zealand brought up A rolling stone gathers no moss. "Yes," I said, "I know that one."
"But in Japanese, it has opposite meaning."
"Moss is a good thing, so we say, if you move around a lot, you will not grow moss."


Also, If you're in a hurry, don't take a shortcut. I forget whether this means that you shouldn't be in a hurry, or that you shouldn't take chances when you most want to.

The last one, they couldn't figure out how to translate properly. Taterumonowa oya demoutsukae. They said it had something to do with using your parents when they stand up. Literally, the phrase translates as stand-person parents even-if-use, but that wasn't helpful. "Maybe it's not a proverb," they said. But I was curious, and said I'd ask someone at the Mid-Year Conference. "Oh no, don't do that!" they said. "Don't worry," I assured them, "I won't name names."

So ask I did, and I think I got the real gist of it: You should use the person who stands even if he is your parent. One of the JTEs I talked to said she relates to the saying this way: "In the winter, Japanese homes have one warm room, and the rest of the house is cold. We don't want to leave the warm room to get anything, so if someone stands up to go to the kitchen, everyone else says, 'Oh, can you get this, too?' 'Can you get this, too?'"

I think I will write my own list of proverbs to use, since some of the ones on Tane's cards are not quite Western, or are worded differently. For instance, we say, Necessity is the mother of invention, but one of Tane's sets of cards says, Want is the mother of industry. Sure, maybe somewhere people say the latter, but I don't know it. Besides, there are a bunch more interesting ones that aren't included on the cards.

Can anyone suggest any? I've already started a list, but I'd appreciate some additions.
Comment away.

Saturday, November 13, 2004


Again with the strange moods.

Today was the Culture Festival at Yokota JHS. Earlier this week, I'd showed interest in attending, because I had yet to attend any event at Yokota. So Ikeda talked to the BoE, and told me that I had three choices: I could come to school for the whole day and receive a day's daikyu (compensatory time off, to be used at my leisure), I could come for half a day and receive half a day's daikyu, or I could come for one hour and receive no daikyu. I had no plans for today, so I told her to sign me up for the full day. It meant coming in at 8:10 like any other school day, but that wasn't so bad.

It was nice. In the morning, each of the classes sang a song, with one class member accompanying on the piano, and another conducting. Most of the conductors just stood in front of the choir and waved their hands, sometimes without regard for tempo or anything. One kid, though, did actually seem to be conducting; like, even the student playing the piano was following him. After that, the teachers sang a song, myself included because Ikeda had kindly transcribed the lyrics into romaji. After lunch, and after the bazaar where I bought a white stuffed gorilla for 30 yen, we returned to the gym. This time some students did a couple of skits, after which there were some girls on the stage with electric guitars and drums. I inwardly groaned, because I feared it would be a repeat of the Nita JHS Culture Festival.

At Nita, a few boys did a mini-concert with rock band instruments, but none of them actually played. I think the kid on the drums did, but the rest of them just pretended to play while they ran a CD. So, yeah, that's kind of cute, and it can be funny if they really try to make it look realistic. But they looked so unenthused. And instead of limiting their performance to one song, like they should have, they played three songs. Lame! I'd rather hear them play badly than hear them not play at all, and not even really pretend to play either. It wasn't anything.

These girls, though, did actually play their instruments, and even did a decent job of it. They played two or three songs, and then the kids had a fashion show, and then an all-boys band played, also for real. So this was better than Nita, but it went on for two hours. I was sitting next to Ikeda, and said, "The teachers are eternally bored." She nodded. They really were. I couldn't understand a thing the students were saying, but I seemed to be enjoying the performances more than the rest of them. They thought the fashion show was dumb—one mentioned something about vomiting—but, um, you didn't hear that from me.

The boys' band was a bit more coherent than the girls' band, and they played some upbeat songs, so I set to 'chair dancing.' If the phrase hasn't yet been coined, I've got first dibs: chair dancing is, well, dancing while seated. I just kind of bopped around a little bit, then said to Ikeda, "You know, it's not so boring if you dance to it." She said, "Mmm. Japanese people don't usually dance."

I stopped for a moment, then said, "Your loss," and continued chair dancing, because it really did help break the monotony. But I couldn't shake her words from my head, and the more I thought about them, the more depressed I became.

I can't ever remember hearing an American play the National Heritage card to justify one's personal decision. "No thanks," "I'd rather not," "Are you feeling okay?" yes, I've heard all those. But never, "Americans don't usually do that."

I was especially disappointed because it was Ikeda who said it. I'm not super chummy with any of my JTEs, but she more than the other four is one with whom I could really see myself becoming friends. She spent six months in England attending an English language school a few years back, and (probably as a result) her English is better than that of the other JTEs. I can speak almost normally, and she understands me. And this is a great thing, it really is. After fourteen weeks of saying to someone something like, "Will I be eating lunch at [insert elementary school] on Monday, or should I bring my own lunch?" and receiving, as a response, "Okay," and a smile and a nod, and then me saying, "No, I'm asking..." it's so nice to be able to say to her, "My high school band sucked," and receive, as a response, "Really? What was your school good at, then?" I also don't have to slow my speech, which puts me at ease.

In September, the ichi-nenseis at Yokota JHS took a field trip to Matsue. I went with them, and took the opportunity to go to the appropriate building to get my re-entry permit taken care of. (The office that handles such things is only open on non-holiday weekdays, so getting up there would ordinarily involve using a few hours' nenkyu (personal time off).) Since I was palling around with Ikeda, we both went to said building, which turned out to be the wrong one. (It didn't used to be, but they moved the office a few months ago.) So they placed a phone call to the appropriate office, and Ikeda spoke with a fellow there briefly, then handed the phone to me. "He needs to talk to you." Unfortunately, he spoke precious little English, and there seemed to be some, I guess, legal reason why he couldn't speak to me through an intermediary. I'm not sure why, because we didn't discuss anything important, only that I didn't need the re-entry permit for a few months, and that maybe it was okay if I stopped by some other day. As Ikeda and I left the building, she said to me, "When you were talking with the man on the phone, your English was very strange."
I laughed. "He speaks broken English, so I think he can only understand broken English."

So what I mean to say is that she's the coolest Japanese person I know, but now it seems she's less cool than I thought. (J-Bot mode = uncool) And in so becoming, I feel more lonely than ever.
"It was just one sentence."
"Yeah, I know."
"So, why does it bother you so much?"
"I don't know. I don't know. Maybe I expected too much."

I'm also bummed because, one, I didn't pace myself in this NaNoWriMo thing, and two, I haven't been keeping up on my Japanese studies. I could have pulled them both off, finishing my short novel by November 30th, and being prepared for the JLPT on December 5th. At this rate, however, they've created a conflict of interest, and I have to let one go. Since I'd be a complete fool to stop studying Japanese at a time when my ability to learn it is at its highest, it's gonna have to be NaNo.

I suck.

And at the same time, I'm relieved.

Learning Japanese by absorption is next to impossible, since almost everyone I meet is so interested in (learning English from) me. Even just last night, I went to a Japanese conversation class in Yokota; I only recently found out about it, and it's held on the second and fourth Fridays of each month, so this was the first class I could attend. The price is right, too: 500 yen per month, which ends up being 4 hours of lesson. There were several people there, all of them Japanese except for Pannee, the CIR in Yokota, who speaks nearly fluent Japanese. One woman I'd met before, Chieko, speaks English fairly well, so I guess she was designated my teacher for the evening. (Everyone else sat around chatting away the rest of the evening.) She asked if I'd brought a textbook with me. I hadn't; I didn't know I was supposed to. So we found a children's book (the class is held in a sort of daycare room in the Community Building), and I started to read. It was mostly hiragana, so I could sound it out, but I didn't know what most of the words meant. Except mukashi, which means long ago. Just like English stories often start with, "Once upon a time," Japanese stories often begin with, "Mukashi, mukashi."

But even a hiragana children's book plus a dictionary doesn't make for a good learning experience. The Japanese have this terribly medieval practice of squishing their words together so that it appears to be one long word. And very different words may be spelled with the same hiragana (though they usually have different kanji), so looking one word up in my dictionary produces as many as eight distinct and very different definitions. And the two issues combined? If the "word" is ABCDEF, I don't know if it's ABC DEF, AB CDE F, A BCD EF, or whatever, and then most of those smaller bits have at least two different definitions.... Frustration.

At the end of the lesson, I told Chieko that I would be coming to the next one, in two weeks, and that I'd bring a textbook. She seemed pleased to hear that. "I hope you will teach me some English, too, next time."

Now... crap... how do I tell her, without insulting her or making her feel foolish, that if I'm paying money to learn Japanese, I really want to spend all of that time learning Japanese? It's easy enough to give her the English translation for a few words here and there, but that has a tendency to quickly degrade into a full-blown English lesson.

I'm beginning to feel deeply frustrated with my inability to understand what people around me are saying, with having to rely on someone else to translate the smallest things for me. Let this be the motivation I need to study my butt off.

Woo! I'm complaining about Japan and all things Japanese! It must be culture shock!

On the bright side, this new fabric softener I bought smells nice.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Once Upon a Time

Just returned from the ALT/JTE Mid-Year Seminar in Hirata. Met a guy named Emmanuel who has awesome taste in card games. A few of us played Once Upon a Time. In this game, every player is dealt word/phrase cards which they must use to tell a story, as well as one ending card. So one player starts off with, "Once upon a time, nani nani nani," and he makes up a story, using as many of his cards as he can. If he mentions something in his story which is the same as another card someone else is holding, she can interrupt with her card, and carry on as the storyteller. There are special Interrupt cards that can interrupt any card of a certain type (Character, Place, Event, Aspect, Item).

Player 1: Once upon a time, there was an old woman [play Old Woman card]. She lived in a cottage [play Cottage card] at the edge of town.
Player 2 [interrupting]: Ohp, I've got the Town card! [play Town card] She was very lonely, but there was a wolf [play Wolf card] who sometimes came to visit her. Now, this wolf was a talking wolf [play This Animal Can Talk card].
Player 3 [interrupting]: That's an Aspect card [play Interrupt Aspect card].

And so forth, until one player uses up all her word/phrase cards, and wraps up the story with her ending card.
But I haven't done it justice: the cards are quite varied, so the story takes many twists and turns. During your turn, you might think you have the rest of the story all planned out, but then someone interrupts you and completely changes it. And it's hilarious. I haven't laughed that much in a long time.

I was going to blog about something more interesting, but I forgot what it was.
Off to Japanese conversation class. Maybe I'll have some stories when I return.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

I'm procrastinating right now.

I went to Yakawa Elementary yesterday. Not bad. I met with all the kids before lunch. First, the 1st and 2nd Graders, then the 3rd and 4th Graders, then the 5th and 6th Graders (whom I'd already met before). I knew that the 5th and 6th Graders would be singing "Edelweiss" for me, but the 3rd and 4th Graders surprised me with a lovely rendition of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore." One of the teachers accompanied on keyboard, and apparently made up her own words for the second verse. Something about "san-nensei" (third graders), and then the san-nensei sang, "Hallelujah!" then something about "yon-nensei" (fourth graders), and then the yon-nensei sang, "Hallelujah!" Then something about Emirii-sensei, and they all sang, "Hallelujah!" and then I don't know what. But it was so funny.

Many people in Japan eat grapes without the skins. They just suck out the insides. I ate grapes once with some Japanese friends, and they warned me that eating the skins might give me a stomach ache. "I eat them this way all the time in America," I assured them, and they seemed assured.
I bring this up because Kenji, the 6th Grade teacher who also is in my English Conversation Class, made a quiz for the 1st and 2nd Graders. The questions were all True/False, and they had to guess the correct answer. One was, more or less, "Americans eat fruit with the skins still on." The answer was True. Then he wanted examples. "Grapes?" he asked. "Yes, we eat grapes in the skins." When he explained this to the kids, some of them said they eat grapes with the skins, too. I said, "Grapes, yes. Apples, yes. Bananas, no. Oranges, no. Kiwis, sometimes." They were surprised about the kiwis. I guess most people in the States peel their kiwifruit, but some like the skins.

Kenji invited me to sit in on his history lesson with the 6th Graders. "Japanese history has been influenced by America. Wouldn't you like to learn about it?" "Sure," I told him, "I just hope I'll understand. But he did a good job of translating for me. The lesson was about "Perry-san," the American who showed up on Japan's doorstep with four warships and demanded that Japan open its borders to trade. The kids even knew what route Perry took on his way from the US Atlantic coast to Japan. This was in, oh, 1853? So glad I caught that documentary on PBS just before I left, else I'd have been Miss Ignoramus. Then he asked me what famous Americans I knew. I mentioned President Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and President Lincoln. The kids had never heard of Franklin, and it turned out they new nothing more about Lincoln beyond the name. So I explained the most well-known facts about each man, and Kenji translated. Pretty cool.

Today, Ikeda-sensei told me that she recently saw Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, but didn't understand what Fahrenheit meant. "Oh," I said, "in Japan, you use Celsius, but in America, we measure temperature in degrees Fahrenheit." That much she may have understood already, so I continued. "The name refers to a book written by Ray Bradbury called Fahrenheit 451. Yadda yadda temperature at which books burn. In this story, books are illegal, and are burned, because the government wants to control the people." It took a minute to establish the fact that the book is fictional, and then I continued. "Michael Moore thinks the government is trying to control the people, so that's why he called the movie Fahrenheit 9/11; 9/11 for the terrorist attacks." She thought it over. "So, that's like Michael Moore. People watch his movie, and then they hate Bush; they think like him."
I had to laugh. "I'm sure that's not what he had in mind when he named the movie."

I should thank striatic, who actually has read Bradbury's book, for letting me know that, in the book, it's never quite clear whose idea it was to outlaw books—whether it was a government-initiated scheme, or just laws to meet the demands of the people—but I still thought Ikeda's comment was interesting, especially in light of this article, which Joe highlighted on his blog.

Oh, also, I've finally added a bit more to my NaNoWriMo book. Not a lot more, but enough to hopefully get more people interested in it. The more people who follow it, the less likely I am to quit. As it is, my future daily average word count must be nearly 2,500 words per day if I'm to finish on time. I figure, if I type at 50wpm (I actually type closer to 70), and if I allow two minutes thinking time for every minute I spend typing, then I only need to write for three hours a day. But then, that's three solid hours, which can be done for one night, maybe two, in an emergency cram session (just like college!), but is awfully difficult to maintain for twenty days in a row.

See? I do simple arithmetic to procrastinate from writing.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Kyoto-sensei let me leave school early today.
I had two classes this morning, and then nothing after lunch, so I just sat in front of my laptop thinking about what I should write, listening to some music, and trying to keep my hands warm. Eventually Kyoto-sensei came around to tell me that, for some reason, everyone was gone, and there was nothing left to do. That's never been reason enough for me to not be at school before, so I was a bit surprised when he said, "Go home."
"Ima? (Now?)" I asked.
"As you like it."
I looked at the clock. It was 4:24pm. "Woo-hoo," I said in mock celebration. "Five minutes early!" Kyoto-sensei laughed.

I'll take the time here to mention that Kyoto-sensei and Kocho-sensei are not names of people, but rather titles; they refer to the vice principal and the principal, respectively. So there's Kyoto-sensei and Kocho-sensei each at Nita JHS and Yokota JHS. I rarely fraternize with the upper-ups at Yokota JHS—the atmosphere there is different—so most of the time when I refer to one or the other, I'm talking about the guys at Nita. I don't know their real names, and even if I did I'd never use them. I can look them up if I need to.

Yesterday I went to Minari Kindergarten. Sayuri, the woman who introduced me to the revolving sushi restaurant in Mitoya, is the teacher of the older students (kindergarten is two years here), so it's really helpful that she speaks English as well as she does. She made a game up for the kids to play that taught them a few colors and animals, as well as "stand up," "sit down," and "stop."
Now, the si sound is not native to Japanese; it can be represented with a bodgered pair of katakana, but this is a recent development and is not often used. The shi sound, however, is as old as the language itself (I presume), and is often used in place of si. For most of the game, I was the only one saying, "Sit down," but when the kids tried it, I couldn't help laughing. "Okay, I'm going to be a really big pain about this: the phrase is sit down. Ssssiiiit down."

I ate lunch there, too, with some of the older kids. It's so funny: they teach me Japanese. I think hone (ho-nay) is the word for bone (we ate fish that day). I tried to teach them Rock Paper Scissors. Not the game, cos everyone in Japan over the age of three knows Janken, but the words we use in English. These kids were convinced that the American version of Janken involves thumbs-up signs and guns. "American Janken, Janken pon!" they say in unison, and at "pon" they produce whatever sign they're going to use. "Nani? (What?)" I said, scratching my head. But I couldn't convince them otherwise.

Monday, November 01, 2004

In Over My Head

You know what I just noticed?
Since I began this blog in January, and up until this morning when I composed the previous post, I have written 32,843 words. This information is visible from my profile, and includes both blogs, I believe.
32,843 in ten months.
And now I'm aiming for 50,000 in one.
And I'm studying for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test, which is on December 5th. It's just the Level 4 exam, but I know only ~10 kanji, and I should know 200.

Things may get interesting. This book is going to be flickin' awesome!

My Book's Blog

How Not to Write a Novel

Well, it's slightly longer than that now, and hopefully will continue to get longer and longer until it reaches that fateful mark of 50,000 words.

I have a sketchy idea in my head of what I want to do with it, but I thought I'd make it fun for you and interesting for me by taking suggestions from the Peanut Gallery as I write.

Please do us both the favor of at least skimming the most recent chapter before making any suggestions in the comment box. Anyone can comment, but if you comment as Anonymous, please leave your name so I know who to credit.

And tell all your friends.