Monday, December 1, 2008


Jeez its fucking december.

Projects: One thing at a time.

So, in my effort to improve my life, I've decided to edit out a lot of the things I do. I mentioned this in an earlier post, that I have a lot of things weighing me down. Lots of things I'd like to do, that I theoretically have time to do, but that in reality just end up being overlapping commitments. Aikido and Kyudo. Japanese and English. Meditation and working out. Photography. Vegetarianism. Learning to cook. Girls. Friends. I want to do it all. I *should* do it all, but I cant. At least, not to the point where I can make everything a "priority." So this semester, i'm trying to tackle one thing at a time. Keep a few obligations, and the rest is just stuff to do in my free time. So, for now I'm working on three projects:

First, the sleeping and waking up project. This is my demon, i guess, something I've been working on since I got here. how to sleep enough and wake up on time. I go through periods of being good about it, and being bad about it, but at the end of the day, the goal of this project is to learn how to go to bed on time and how to wake up when I need to, habitually. From there, the sub-goal of getting to school on time *should* fall into place. I haven't really been late this year much (maybe about three times) but in the past few weeks its been getting more and more giri-giri, that is, close to the bell. This project could last the rest of my life, i suppose, but one thing I think I'm going to re-implement is a chart system for monitoring my progress on this project. Of course, I'll have to make it. we'll see. I need to think more about this project, since it's only now that I'm labeling it a "project," and think about how to break down these goals even more.

Second, Excercising (Swimming.) This is the easiest of the three. The only goal is to go to the gym for a 1hr 15 minutes 3x/week. So far, I've been pretty good about it. If i go on MWF, then I don't even have to do anything when I go to the gym. There's a class and someone tells me what to do. I do it. No problem. I love being told what to do. Thinking for myself is a pain in the ass. Or rather, not so much thinking for myself, but deciding for myself how to act is a pain in the ass. Unfortunately, that, apparently, is what "real life" and "adulthood" is all about. "freedom"
is doing what you want to do. What about when deciding what to do becomes a burden? Ok, thats a tangent.

Third. Nihongo. The goal of this project is to kick japanese's ass. Completely and thouroughly. The barrier shall fall, and this language shall crumble at my feet before me. It is only a matter of time.

So, only three things. Unfortunately other important things. Meditation, Aikido, Photography, etc. Have to fall by the wayside until i get better at these three things. Not to say I'll stop doing them, they just won't be priorities for now.

Unfortuately these three projects really have no deadline. I should get that worked out, i suppose. Without a deadline, I could just go on forever without bringing the other stuff back into my life. Like, I'd like to be more serious about meditation. I want to eventually do some more english reading, I want to do the stylelife challenge. I want to learn how to cook better. But im putting that off until I can manage these three things first, the basics. Just the doing of them, showing up, (on time) as khatz sez. In fact, even having three things is probably too much, but that can't really be avoided. And I should mention that the priority above all of these is work. Doing what needs to be done at school. (and also figuring out what needs to be done) Ok, enough for now. Back to work.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A few quick notes

So, i tweaked anki a bit today. One problem I'm having is that if I fail a card, I'll often want to go look up a story, or write one down . This is pretty time consuming, and takes me out of the rhythm of doing the cards. I would like to be able to do all my card edits at the end of my anki review, rather than during review. I thought if I set the "failed" interval high, i would be able to see which cards I failed during that day's review at the top of the edit window, and then go back and edit them all at once. Unfortunately, this means I don't get a quick review after I've failed a card. Does anyone have a better solution to this problem?

Here's another editing issue: when I close the edit window, it shows me the same card again, usually, because until now I've been doing this: see card, hit answer button, edit card, close edit window. I would like to be able to answer that card (if I need to edit it, its usually a fail), rather than have to see it again right away. Is there a simple solution to this? It seems like if there was some like, update button in the edit window that could update the card without having to close the edit window, it might be one solution to the problem.

Another issue: I'm rocking a Mac, but the keystroke I use to switch between Japanese and Englsish is apple+1, which does something else in Anki. Or at least, it won't change between Japanese and english while anki is open. Any solution to this problem (that doesn't involve me changing my keystroke settings)?

Ok, here's another issue: Say i fail a card. It comes up again in a few minutes. How should I answer it? My current recollection of it is pretty strong, but only for the moment because I just saw it. Obviously, my longer-term recollection is weaker. I'd like to answer it using the same "grading standard" i use for all other cards, but i worry that that will space it out too long. Is this a problem to be fixed with the "failed interval" and the "again" duration? Or do I need to have different grading standards for cards that I've failed? I hope my questions make sense...

Ok nevermind this was just a rant for the Anki forum.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

More Japanese notes

So, i pretty much set aside the whole day for studying, but, relative to days at school, I didn't get much done. I got some other stuff done, which is fine, but i guess the studying got pushed to last. Its weird, like on days when I'd put studying first, it goes last, but on days when work should be first, sometimes work seems to come last. I don't intend to do it that way, it just kind of happens like that. hmm... action + intention have a very interesting relationship.

My studying today was to go through last year's JPLT. I haven't graded it yet. Some stuff was easier, mostly the vocab part, but the reading was still pretty fushigi.

umm what was i gonna write? About mnemonics... well i should ask the forums at RevTK, but anyway, going through the test today I saw a bunch of kanji i had learned in RTK. Some of the older ones i kind of glanced over.. not really noticing them, or taking into account their "meaning" or trying to actively remember the keyword. Some, the keyword came out and it was the same kind of "synasthetic" type of understanding that I hadn't ever really felt with Japanese before - i.e. some shapes on a page have an image-a story-meaning linked to them like never before. That, i think, is the ultimate goal of RTK. But then, with a bunch of newer characters, either the stories wouldn't come at all, and I may only recall the primitives. Or, I recall the primitives and the story, but not the keyword. I have a suspicion, that if I had seen the keyword first, i could have gotten the character. I guess I'm still fighting against the Keyword>kanji only study method. Well, i suppose its part of the process

So, I just wonder what makes a good story? I think one reason i have trouble with some characters is with weaker stories. I think, when I'm making my own story, i tend to shortcut it, and just come up with an image that links all the elements of the kanji together- the keyword and the primitive all kind of jammed together in a single idea. I think it may be important that each primitive has an image-and that each image is linked together with the story. That's a little abstract, but what makes a good story?

And maybe more concretely, how much of my reviews should be aimed at producing the story, in addition to producing the character? I guess the book is called "remembering the kanji" not "remembering the mnemonics" but it seems like if I want to remember from Kanji>keyword eventually, I should focus on remembering the story more. That is to say, with Kanji I'm good at, I'll just skip the story entirely during Keyword-kanji review. But that seems to lead to less recollection when I see the kanji in context.

ok thats all

well its well past bedtime and i still haven't done a single review.

Friday, November 28, 2008


The temple bell next door is ringing. One thing that i've noticed recently, maybe it's happened because I haven't been meditating at all recently, is that I've been much jumpier. Like super jumpy. Anytime some loud sound happens its like a little surprising. Maybe it's just my state of mind. I've got all these alarms in my life nowadays. Class bells, wake up alarm, go to sleep alarm, not to mention that I've been giving this "timeboxing" thing a try-i.e. setting time limits for various tasks (especially for flashcarding/studying, but it can also be applied to other stuff-washing dishes, showering i suppose). as for timeboxing, i think im going about it the wrong way, i think im doing something wrong with it. right now, its just a good idea, but i don't really understand the principle behind it, so the execution is sloppy. another reason for the jumpiness might be that when im missing all these alarms-i always do-wake up late, go to bed late, late for class, i always beat myself up for it-feel bad about it. so i think, like pavlov's dog, my self-deprecation (or whatever) has led to me being, in a sense, afraid of alarms- and by extention loud sounds in general. yeah. it makes me wonder if these productivity tools are doing more to damage me than to make me more productive? hmm...


Its been two days since thanksgiving. I was gonna write something on the day of, but my internet shut off right as i was in the middle of it. I have my internet automatically shut off at 10:30 to prevent me from staying up late dicking around on the internet. Self-discipline/restraint can be frustrating. You know, i like dicking around on the internet late at night. Anyway.

Thanksgiving passed without incident. I at tofu stirfry that was ok, but not exactly turkey with stuffing. I was also thinking about having a party this weekend, like I did last year, but it seems like everyone has other plans, and it's too late now anyway. I'm just gonna spent the weekend studying. It was a bit tough calling home on thanksgiving. Yeah, I cried a bit. I guess that's natural.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I went to korea this weekend because it was a long weekend. Just on a whim. last minute.

Korea was cool. food was good, very spicy. no girls for me. met a bunch of english teachers. went a couple of temples. saw james bond. i did so many things that ended up being very giri-giri. so here comes the part where i beat myself up about it... yeah. like i missed the boat on monday because I didn't check the time. 14:00 does not equal 4:00. Earlier i went to a temple but didn't bother to wake up and get out until very late so like there was about an hour of sunlight left. then i went to see james bond and i got to the movie theater like maybe 2 minutes before, which isnt really that bad, but i remember rushing to get there for some reason. fortunately i didn't check the time for those either, and i say fortunately because it actually started 10 minutes after i thought. and then finally on the last day, yesterday, i wanted to go see another temple before i left, but i stayed up late and didn't wake up until later, and after an hour commute i had only like 20 minutes to actually see the temple. plus ended up spending a bunch on a taxi to get there and back. plus even though i was only there for like 20 minutes, i still managed to be late for my ferry. fortunately i was able to get on the next one, but i was still on the wait list.

i really like to beat myself up over my petty personal faults. i should really stop beating myself up for them. and when i don't stop i will beat myself up for that as well. ugh.

cricicism is unproductive, despite what scholars tell you.

another frustrating thing

the frustrating thing is that as i write such depressing things about this country, i become depressed in response. a self fulfilling prophecy. if i write "i don't like my job" or "i can't be a real teacher" or "i don't like living here" it just becomes reality. on one hand, that's my real feelings. On the other, that's not the reality I want to create. I want to be a real teacher. I want to like my job. i want to like living here. so maybe i should write "I do like my job" I am a real teacher" and "i love living here." See, just writing that makes me feel better.

Friday, November 21, 2008


today was not that great for no particular reason.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

a pain in my ear

i have this incredible pain in my right ear.

i have had pains like this before. it comes and goes, apparently with the use of q-tips. i unfortunately used a qtip to clean out my ears a few days ago. it's been going on for over an hour now.


at the seminar last week, all the kencho alts were asked to redo the "goals management sheet" to conform to our individual schools "educational goals" set out by the head of school. My old goals were to finish my ESL course, make OC1 better, and continue to study japanese. This is probably the seventh revision of my goals. My new goals are to foster student’s will and attitude to learn, promote myself and my school to be a part of the community, and teach so that students make the most of and acquire English abilities. Well, vague to say the least, but maybe less self-serving. Plus nobody will ever say i promised I would finish that ESL course. (I still intend to).

right before class, my supervisor told me today were were talking about the topic of "nationality." Something I actually give a shit about. five minutes to prepare what to say in the face of bad social science. in japanese. to say what I want, why I am in this fucking country doing this fucking job. Five minutes. Thank you very much.

Obviously i wasn't completely prepared. But thank you, at least, for telling me what was going on before class.

Fuck this job.

Input in the classroom

So one of the foundations of AJATT is the idea of "input," and "input before output." That is, the words got to be in you head before they come out your mouth. They get in your head with reading (and in the AJATT method, loads of flashcard review). But how can this idea be integrated into a classroom environment that is more than just saying "ok, read this..." or "listen to this..." teaching esl seems to rely on output, before the input has been properly established. Maybe i should consult the guru...

Monday, November 17, 2008

AJATT rocking

I fucking kicked ass studying today. All my reps. A bunch of listening (which reminds me...). 70+ kanji. I had like two classes, neither of which I did anything in and then freedom for the rest of the day.

Anyway, here's some notes. two things on primitives/keyword relationships. it might be better to make the keyword is the most prominent image in the story, and that the primitives modify the story or explain the details. One practical thing, that helped create better stories, was to learn to re-arrange the order of the primitives, not just use the order that they are presented on the page, which i think i had a tendency towards. i mean any story is fine, but you want the keyword to be stronger so that the character becomes linked to it (i.e. the meaning is primarily the keyword, not just the "meaning" of the primitives).

also about reviewing, i should start thinking, not only about the story in addition to the writing of the kanji, but that I should be able to construct the story both backward and forward. That is to say from both the keyword to the character, but also from the character to the keyword. I suppose this could be integrated into the same review, as Heisig suggests. It could also be useful to review from the kanji to the keywords. This may come when I get to the sentences part, i.e. after I finish RTK, and in that case i wouldn't bother to review them alone.

I also wish that in RTK the position of the kanji and the position of the keywords in each frame were switched? maybe.

also need to bring my timer from home, and buy batteries for my mp3 player.

I changed some settings in anki. i think i want to know more about the formula, and how exactly reviews are spaced. I guess just trust the system, but... you know... doubt. i guess its that last 10% that I want...

I gotta figure out a lesson for friday. I want it to kick ass so maybe I'll do that most of tomorrow, or tonight.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

J. Go journal

i think ima start keeping a journal of my japanese studies. what problems I encounter, etc. i might start making it in japanese, because that would be better.

so the first entry

basically i realized that i was forgetting kanjis very easily on the first review, so i decided to do a first review quickly after reading the page in RTK. Basically, flash card it by covering up the character and just showing the keyword. This is normally a crappy way to review, but since its just a first review immediately after having studied it, its fine i think.

also i need to be focused not only on producing characters when reviewing, but also stories. this will be even more and more important as i move away from characters I know.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New vocabulary

バストアップ (Basuto-Eppu) (Eng. Bust Up) When one's bust gets pushed up
This bra has excellent bust-up!

Japanese TV

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Last night I went to the annual "sen-nen akari" festival in Hita. I went alone and took pictures. It seemed like everyone was with someone on their arm. Friend, family or a lover. Taking pictures is a good thing to do alone. I'll post some at some point. The theme of this post is "loneliness."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A good day

Today I got my drivers licence. Gentsuki chari (50cc scooter). first try with the paper test. I kick ass.

Today Barack Obama won the Election. first try. no paper test. he kicks ass.

Friday, October 31, 2008

things i do

Staying in Shape
staying healthy
getting enough sleep
eating enough
doing pushups and situps
doing weights
the jplt
video games
saving money
doing shit every day
not being attached
supporting the non-japanese community
cleaning my house
being a good teacher
being a good alt
learning how to teach english
teaching english
keeping a blog
friends elswhere in japan
friends in hita
friends at home
woodenfish program in Taiwan
woodenfish in Japan
editing photos
achieving my goals
not achieving my goals
reading non fiction
reading fiction
reading japanese
japanese culture
culture shock
japanese buddhism
thinking about the future (and not living in the present)
man... i would hate to be a foreigner living in japan.

Things this week

on sunday night, I went on a date. it didn't go well. It started out fine. But she apparently isn't comfortable around me. I mean, this has happened before. Like, she doesn't want to hang out alone with me. So, basically i invited Shane out. And, he well, stole the night away, to say the least.

on monday, there was the school festival. it was way cool the kids did a great job.

on tuesday, i went to get my drivers licence. I thought it didn't involve a drivers test. In fact, I called a number of times to confirm it didn't. But it did. And I failed. And now I have to go all the fuckin way back to oita to do it again. well at least the tester was nice.

on wednesday, two of mikumas students attended a speech contest in Oita. Unfortunately, one did not do so well, but the other did fantastic. I had been coaching her for about a month. I was so proud. I though... i knew she should win, and everyone i talked to agreed. But she didn't. Sonezaki sensei was one of the judges. And two other ALTs i don't know. Fantastic. Well at least Sonezaki knows i know how to do my job now. Also, the other teacher i went with was the teacher I had a bit of a crush on. Fucking cold as ice since i went on a date with her. You wanna go out again? Sure. How's this weekend? I'm busy I'll be at school all day. I mean at night... Yeah i'm busy... ugh

on thursday, not much happend. I was a little put off that the other teacher announced the results of the contest. Like she took credit for it. Obviously i'm over analyzing it, but i like to sweat the small stuff.

today, my boss offered to let me drive her car in preparation for the driving test. I did and then quickly proceeded to run it into a curb and fuck up the front left hubcap. I told her i'd pay for it. The tester at the center told me to mind the center line. well whatever i mean it was an honest mistake. I have no qualms about it other than i'm still worried about the test on tuesday. Which i may have to take fucking nenkyu for.

I also have to start thinking about what to do for christmas. Korea? Taiwan? Hong Kong? Home? Skiing?

I also have to start thinking about what to do next year. What i will do if i do something different. What I can do. What can I do? More fucking decisions.

Also its like the third day i've forgot to take my pillz. I was feeling pretty good earlier, but not so much at the moment.

Mom recommended that i get some Melatonin to help me sleep. I wonder where I can buy that here.

Finally, Its halloween. I forgot to do anything at school. I mean, i wasn't really interested in it, so whatever. But now i have to decide what to do tonight and this weekend. I was hoping to travel or something. Hmm... Ima throw on my haiqing and party it up at luchis it seems.

Heisig Number 310ish

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


This morning we had rehearsal for the taikusai/bunkasai at Mikuma (athletics/culture festival). I did nothing this whole morning practicall, but because I just had to be there, it was no problem. It's very strange, that when I am put in charge of my own time, I waste it and complain of boredom, but when I am doing something that's actually quite boring, its no problem. I just lazed around and talked with some kids listened to some japanese crap. I don't get it. If i was doing that little amount of producive work normally, I'd be going nuts like I usually am. getting all depressed and shite. WTF? I don't get myself. I'm too critical of myself. So i had a good morning! congratulations. now sitting in my chair the feelings starting to slide away

Monday, October 20, 2008


In february, there is a "ALT意見交換会" - opinion exchange meeting that I was really hoping to go to. Unfortunately, the deadline for the application was Friday. Well, it needed to be at the prefectural office on Friday, so that they could sit on it for a week and send it off this friday. I mean, there's really no excuse on my part. The fucking Deadline was highlighed on the front of the application- i just somehow seemed to look that over. Acutally, at one point I thought that it was in fact last friday, but changed my mind when I saw it written in English. That is to say, one part of it had one date on it, and the other had another date... i mean it was fairly obvious what i was to do, but somehow the obvious didn't stick. well, i'll make the app anyway and see what happens.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Last night, I went on a date. It was nice to go have dinner with someone. I haven't done that in a while. I gave a call up to Shane, he had wanted to go out earlier. apparently he was getting drunk on his lonesome back at the KR and needed some cigarettes, so I bought him a pack, as well as some hagen dasz cookies and cream.

we chatted it up over gin and tonics and the ice cream, and he basically encouraged me to get out on my scooter and see more of the country around hita. So, today I did. I brought my camera up on a route to Hikosan, and stopped to take pictures at iwaya jinja. Lovely weather. I like riding my scooter, even though at this point in time it is illegal for me to do so. there were a lot of curves on the road up the mountain, and i was practicing how to take them. I should buy that book about mororcycling that jeff suggested.

I also cut my hair this morning. I've normally been trying to do that every 2 weeks, as per FGS tradition, but this time i let it grow out for like four weeks. Longer than it had been in about a year. Ok.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I've thought for a long time that to get my life in order I needed to create a schedule and stick to it. Since no one was telling me what to do anymore, I have to tell myself what to do. So today, i made a schedule of my week. Just this week. I hope i can make a schedule every week. maybe I will help me get my life on track.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Today i wrote a letter to my professor in college. To some extent, he encouraged me to come on JET to japan. I feel that to some extent I am following in his footsteps. Actually, to a rather large extent. I mean, the JLPT, Kyudo, becoming a scholar-this guy is like a career role model. but my attachment to that model is doin' me bad. feeling like i NEED to pass nikyu. I SHOULD do kyudo, or some kind of martial art, as though I had promised. Its all in my head. Its all competition actually, Im competing with a ghost of who i think I should be. my ghost is always better than me. Why?

This is not a blog about my adventures. This is a blog about everyday life.

i think i want to get back on the blog horse. friends have recently encouraged me to keep a journal to stave of the boredom/loneliness that has recently plagued my life here. i plan to write about nothing in particular. my days what i do. i guess i do interesting things usually. mostly not. but i like to talk. maybe if i talk here, i can listen to other people better in the real world. also a blog doesn't judge. thats nice. maybe this is a good idea.