土曜日, 9月 18, 2010

A Slightly Calmer Week:

I may have mentioned previously, but I am not drinking alcohol this month. Just wanted to take a break.
I would have thought that would immediately kill my social life, but as you've seen from prior entries, I have been having a great time.

Last weekend I went back to Miyajima to camp on the same beach as before, but this time with my touch rugby team and we rented out a sweet cabin! The night I got there we jumped in the ocean and this specific beach has amazing blue bioluminescent plankton that only light up when disturbed. That means every time you wave your arm or leg through the water, little particles of glow-stick blue light up all around you, starting from your skin and sending a chain reaction out to the plankton around them. This has the effect of making you feel like a wizard. For the nerdier crowd, it is a lot like the kiss scene in the water from Final Fantasy 10, but I guess more people would understand if I said "It's like the planet/moon from Avatar."Of course, I was in the water the whole time so I don't have any pictures. Oh well, I got to live it and that was one of the best experiences of my life that I didn't even know I had been missing out on!  

Back at work, I had to translate 4 pages of English into Japanese. Normally all of my translations are Japanese to English. This is easy because it is all about reading, comprehending, and repeating in my native language. But English to Japanese is much harder because, as we know from speaking our native tongue, there are a hundred ways to say the same thing, but in a foreign language, it is much harder to think of all those different ways, understand their meaning and context, and choose the most appropriate way. For example (this translation was about training teachers), "training" could be said as 訓練 (kunren), 育成 (ikusei), or 養成 (yousei), and by the end of 4 pages I had used each of them a hundred times. Luckily, mine was only the rough-draft portion so a native speaker then went over my chicken scratch and made it pretty.

Last night I mailed in the first of my 6 book correspondence course on teaching Japanese. Luckily I only had to mail in the five key problems from the lessons, because the book contained a month worth of work, but since I was so busy with my job, the first package sat un-opened on my desk until two weeks ago. I did plow through it all though and now I have a full month to properly take care of book 2. Between the course work and the Japanese translation at work, I have been writing (by hand) in Japanese much MUCH more than usual, and sure enough the more I do, the faster and better I get at writing kanji, such as the Chinese characters making up the three Japanese words in the previous paragraph. You would think that living here, typing and reading them constantly would make them easy to write, right? NOPE! At least, not for me! Reading kanji is easy after you've seen the character a few times, but writing a kanji that has more than 4 or 5 strokes in it is impossible for me unless I've looked it up and written it several times recently.

That's about it for now. Boring entry I guess. This weekend I am going to take it easy and next week I will be fleshing out my horror film script I mentioned before for the short-film festival.
love, peace, and chicken grease,

金曜日, 9月 10, 2010

Greg Goes Guch

Last weekend I took a local train to my neighboring prefecture Yamaguchi!

I was planning on visiting my buddy Steve and not much else, but it turned into an extremely awesome and eventful weekend!

So Friday after work I settled down for a 3 hour ride from Hiroshima City to Shin-Yamaguchi Station and read Book 1 of my Japanese Pedagogy correspondence course, which I get to take for free, thanks to my office and CLAIR, the people who organize the JET Programme. Needless to say, the subject of teaching Japanese makes for a slow read, so when I woke up, I was already across the prefectural border, and I went back to reading.

Steve picked me up and we decided on sushi for dinner, but not before finding a Mexican restaurant right by the station called "Amigo de Amigo". We tried to get a taco for the road, but they said they couldn't make them, so we went on to a cheap kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi joint that was INCREDIBLE. Everything there was so good. The salmon-miso was also awesome and Steve had two bowls. :P

The next morning we woke up and went to Tsunoshima, an island on the Sea of Japan, but the beach (which you had to pay to use!) had too many people to snorkel and too few people to enjoy we went back to the mainland side and snorkeled under the famous bridge to the island. This was my first experience snorkeling and I have to say, it was pretty amazing. This summer, finally, I have been really taking to the water, and loving everything about being the ocean. After exploring the private beach of the neighboring hotel and being confused for customers by the staff, we decided to book it before our cover was blown and we went to another beach with some small waves. I tried my hand at body surfing but mostly just ended up getting a lot of salt-water up my nose. It was still fun, but washing up from that I started to suspect I might be getting sick.

NO MATTER! we continued on to Hagi and our friend Shak's new place to play poker. Out of four people I came in second (second prize...nothing!), but went out on a pretty respectable hand. We then went to a bar called No Side to watch the S. Africa vs. Australia rugby match. Australia won at the last minute, much to the chagrin of our Saffer friend James, but the local color in the bar made it an interesting evening. James (probably thanks to his rainbow-esque S. Africa scarf he wore there) got hit on by some Japanese guy and two of Shak's former female students (meaning they weren't too likely old enough to be in a bar at 1 am) came in looking like Japanese trailer trash, but it all translated to a lot of laughs for us.

The next day Steve and I woke up late and drove back out to Hagi for a BBQ! James had bought a bunch of meat and some veg and Shak (i think) provided the grill. The BBQ was in a park by another beach, but when I woke that morning I knew for sure I had a cold, so I ended up not even setting foot on the sand. We DID however play cricket, touch rugby, throw a frisbee, and eat like kings.

To finish off the day, we went to an Onsen. This hot spring was especially nice and came with a hand-towel souvenir. It had tons of different pools, most of which were outdoors, to soak in and the sauna was the perfect temperature for me (89 degrees Celsius). Afterward, I felt great, and clean, but the next morning I woke up around 2 hours early, feeling like crap from what was obviously a full-blown head cold.

There was a redeeming aspect to this however. Some friends and I have been trying to come up with a plot for a horror film and in the time I laid there trying to sleep, i ended up imaging a great plot, so I hopped online, typed it up, and mailed it to the other players. Let's hope that becomes something worth blogging about later =D