Saturday, April 29, 2006

Everything

The other day I watched the movie The Pretender, which seemed to be a continuation of the TV-series. While the movie was pretty bad, it did bring up memories from the series, which I remember liking.
Jarod, a boy genius with a special gift for pretending, was kidnapped and held prisoner by a corporation that used him as a human simulator in their clandestine research. Escaping from The Centre more than 30 years later, Jarod now searches for clues to his true identity and family. He also uses his ability to quickly become an expert at anything to right wrongs and exact revenge on the wicked.
-IMDB, plot summary for "The Pretender" TV-series
There's something about that level of intelligence that fascinates me, even though it's entirely fictional. The ability to so seamlessly take on and master something new, and then, after having done what you set out to do, just disappear without a trace.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

残念!

We got the results for the history-test today, and to my horror, I didn't pass. Made me feel down the rest of the day.

It's strange, but it seems as if it's the history, and in the future I'm guessing the litterature course, that's causing me the biggest problems. The grammar I'll probably squeeze through, and I'm feeling pretty confident about the kanji part after doing some HC kanji-grinding. I think that if the kanji test was tomorrow, I'd probably pass!

In a perverse way, I even like studying kanji since it's so linear. It's not like history where you have to know who did what when and how it effected event X; with kanji, it's just you, the characters and a long, long grinding to remember them.

In any case, attempt #2 next week's Friday.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

If I would...

-Cosplay
Perhaps a character from Ouendan, in which case it would Tanaka Hajime.
-Karaoke
TM Network - Get Wild.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Jenga

Last night was sort of interesting.

I had pretty much settled in for an evening of hard-core kanji studying when I recieved a communique from my class-mate Aino, insisting that I attend a party of hers. (Though "insisting" might be an understatement.)

Hmm. Alrighty.

The last party that a class-mate had invited me to had seen me mostly sitting around, hardly saying two words the entire evening. With that memory I set out into the evening, destination unknown. Literally, since I hadn't checked up exactly where in town the particular adress was located. (Though I eventually got there, with a little help from my friends.)

So. Me as the lone Swedish-speaking person at a party otherwise populated with Finnish-speakers. Of course I was worried that I'd be a bit left out. Luckily there was alcohol.

Now, I don't want to be responsible for perpetuating the myth that Finnish people need alcohol to be social, there are plenty who can do without. But for me, I find that it relaxes me immensely, which allows me to speak in situations where I otherwise, for various reasons, wouldn't, and gets me actually interacting with people instead of sitting in a corner wondering whether I really should be there.

We played a bit of jenga, which I managed to avoid losing, primarily because a) I wasn't that drunk yet, and b) I had seen a bit of how it's done.
Go to 29:36 to see a tower much larger than ours being built.

After a bit of more socializing, we headed out to a local club. It was alright there, though I've never thought a club is a good place for conversations, but getting up and dancing again was fun, it's been a while since I did that.

All in all a fun night!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Rikai

By way of Sho I found out about the Firefox plug-in Rikaichan, a dictionary extension. "[J]ust hover the mouse on top of a Japanese word." Like so:Very clever.

***
This is a pic of my favourite cookies, Fani-Pala mint. They are dangerously delicious.

And my favourite crackers, Kantolan Cream Cracker. I bought a mega-pack of them from the supermarket; about 100 crackers for ~2.50€.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Potter. Harry Potter.

After watching the second Harry Potter-movie yesterday I started wondering which 'house' I would belong to in the now well-known magic-school. The sorting hat says Ravenclaw.
I thought my "evil genius"-tendencies would put me in Slytherin, but it seems I'm not evil enough for that.

Anyway, while watching the movie, I was a bit annoyed at how one-dimensional the Slytherin-group is presented. No effort is made to explain their actions or their apparent rivalry with the appointed good guys Gryffindor. Perhaps it will be explained further on in the story in the later books, but so far the petty rivalry between the two factions is just silly. I'm of the conviction that noone is "pure good" or "pure evil"; each person has their reasons for doing what they do or believing what they believe. It's human to be a little of both, and when a person (in a movie) is represented in a way that is purposely meant to show what how "bad" they are, my suspense of disbelief just drops like a stone. (For a good example of how human bad guys can be made, see the movie Heat.)

Another thing that's bothering me a bit is the whole boarding school-environment, but perhaps that's more because the concept is unfamiliar to me. Still, I could see how each book/movie ends: Harry Potter saves the day, Slytherin wants him expelled for breaking rules while saving the day, a talk with the principal gets him an earful for breaking the rules and also a medal for yet again rescuing the world.

Still, I'll probably search out book 2 and read it, followed by the rest in due time.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Two weeks later

To be honest, I haven't really accomplished much in these last two weeks. I've practiced some kanji, but not as much as I had planned. Well, there's still a couple of days left 'til the next lesson, and more importantly, our first session of 日本会話 (nihonkaiwa, Japanese conversation) on Thursday. (Which, by the way, is from 9 AM, meaning I have to try to get my ass out of bed a lot earlier than usual.)

Our conversation-leader will be Yoshiko Koivumäki, who also substituted for our teacher when he went to join ETA. I do hope plain conversation will go better than her teaching, which, to be honest, left a bit to be desired. As an example, she would often have us fill in exercises from the book during the lessons, meaning we just sat the for 10-15 minutes; then we went through it and she would write all the answers on the board. Compared to how our ordinary teacher does it (by giving it as homework and going through it the following lesson), that's a lot of 'down-time' where there is no real interaction between the teacher and the students. Another thing I didn't like was how she had us do the exercises for the new kanji we learned during the lessons too; this lead to a lot of flipping back and forth in our kanji books while we searched out the readings for everything we didn't know and translate the sentences. It also got me off my groove of practising writing the kanji while doing the homework since we had done all the exercises during the day.

I'll also have to find something to eat for Thursday during the hour or so between the the morning conversation and the regular lesson.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Top of 'teh intarweb'

Do you know how some people can say "just do a search for [insert keywords] and you'll find me"?Hmm. Perhaps not the best keywords to be associated with there.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I can't draw

As the title says.

I'm pretty bad at drawing; whenever I want to draw a straight line it always ends up crooked or there's a little bump on it that ruins everything. I did get an award in the subject at the end of the 9th grade, but I'm suspecting that they figured I deserved something, but couldn't find anything that I was really good at. For those interested, I think it was during the 8th grade that I finally seemed to find some footing in learning, with my math grades in particular taking a significant turn upwards. Of course I had some good teachers too that encouraged me.

In any case, I find that my inability to draw clean lines really limit me now that I have think of the aesthetics while drawing kanji. While remembering the stroke order is just a case of rote memorization, drawing them is something completely different. When drawing them small they look okay, but as soon as I need to schale them up I get in trouble. According to our teacher, we should practice drawing each kanji >50 times, but somehow that doesn't seem to happen. We're going to have an actual test where they examine our kanji writing abilities later on (around May-July, I think).

***
I found a new bug the other day that really interested me. It looked like nothing I've ever seen before; it had the build of a centipede, the body divided into parts in a similar way, but it lookws eerily familiar to my old "friends", the black beetles. The current theory is that it's a black beetle in an earlier phase, and it's going to develop through pupification or similar transformation.

I'm keeping it under observation in a plastic container for now, waiting for developments. It seems to like apple.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Mixology

After looking around a brief tutorial on mixing in an audio magazine (Studio, Swedish) my brother bought, I think I've gotten at least some idea of how it should be done (and also why).

As I've understood it, there is a limited amount of room in recorded audio; the article has it stated as between 20 and 20 000 hertz. If two different instruments occupy too much of the same frequency, they start overlapping and you get a "muddy" sound. So in order for every channel (instrument) to be heard clearly, you cut away the non-essential parts of the sound with the equalizer-settings, thereby making room for other instruments.

Though something tells me I should focus more on playing and composing first.

***
I should have gotten a package today. If I don't get it tomorrow it probably means Mr. Customs has grabbed it.

It's pretty strange, of all the orders I've made from abroad (which amounts to pretty many now, I think) only one has been picked up by the customs for inspection. Let's hope that keeps up.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Oh.

The Japanese have what could be called an "interesting" grammatical structure, but could also be called "confusing", "random", "bogus" or "evil". To truly understand this, let's examine the differences between Japanese and English grammar.

English Sentence:
Jane went to the school.

Same Sentence In Japanese:
School Jane To Went Monkey Apple Carbeurator.

Japanese grammer is not for the faint of heart or weak of mind. What's more, the Japanese also do not have any words for "me", "them", "him, or "her" that anyone could use without being incredibly insulting (the Japanese word for "you", for example, when written in kanji, translates to"I hope a monkey scratches your face off"). Because of this, the sentence "He just killed her!" and "I just killed her!" sound exactly the same, meaning that most people in Japan have no idea what is going on around them at any given moment. You are supposed to figure these things out from the "context", which is a German word meaning "you're screwed".
-So you want to learn Japanese...

Well then.

***
By public demand, a de-spin.
Hounen Matsuri is a fertility festival celebrated every year on March 15th in Japan. The most well-known of these festivals takes place in the town of Komaki, just north of Nagoya City. Hounen means rich harvest in Japanese, while a matsuri is a festival or holiday. The Hounen festival and ceremony celebrate the blessings of a bountiful harvest and all manner of prosperity and fertility.

The festival's main features of interest are shinto priests playing musical instruments, a parade of ceremonially-garbed participants, all-you-can-drink sake, and a 280 kg (620 pound), 2.5 meter (96 inch)-long wooden phallus. The wooden phallus is carried from a shrine called Shinmei Sha on a large hill, to another shrine called Tagata Jinja.
-Wikipedia, Hounen Matsuri
[...] it is easy to think that it is the phallus that is being worshipped. This is not the case. Each of the hundreds of objects in the shrine buildings are essentially offerings to the enshrined deity, and are venerated as such. In the past, the shrine often lended these phalluses to those in need, for example a couple wishing to conceive, an individual searching for a suitable spouse, or to cure childhood illnesses.

However what the veneration is about though is the worship of a feminine deity. The kami is female and embodies fertility and fecundity. Not far from Tagata shrine there is another place of worship called Ogata (Oogata) Jinja, where the objects are representative of female genitalia. In an agricultural community, the sacred feminine was worshipped, and the rituals that have survived to this day at the Tagata shrine were celebrations of this, conducted in order to ensure bountiful agricultural harvests, regeneration and renewal as well as human birth. In this way the Hounen matsuri is similar to other fertility rituals around the world. Hounen means bountiful year. The festival is held March 15th because spring is the time of regeneration where seeds sprout and dormant trees and plants that seem to be dead come back to life.
-The Yamagata Institute, Tagata Jinja Hounen Matsuri
So, yeah, the main purpose of the festival isn't photographing girls riding on giant penii. Of course when viewed from a western perspective it will seem a bit strange, since anything associated with sexuality has been supressed and beaten down in the western world.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Letting out a deep breath

Apparently what I thought was a cavity was a filling that had dropped out (or something).

***
I dreamt that I could fly last night. Not flight as in an airplane, but freely by myself. Not flying as in Superman-flying, more of a controlled float. I'd pull my knees up toward my chest and if I focused I could start floating around. A bit like levitation, but with more mobility. Though the control wasn't that great, stopping and turning was a bit slow, like a boat in water.

If I lost concentration I would fall to the ground, which I actually did, but it wasn't a hard fall, I wasn't even hurt in the impact; it was as if when focusing my body would become lighter and eventually taking off, and when I lost concentration the body would only gradually become heavier again. (When I think about it, it was a bit like the jetpack in GTA: SA...)

I probably wouldn't have remembered it unless I had written it down when I woke up in the middle of it. I also realized then that I have had the same kind of "flying" dream before.

If I had to analyze it I would say it symbolizes that I feel more free now, for whatever reason.
Flying symbolizes the freedom to move in the inner levels of mind otherwise referred to as astral projection or out-of-body experiences.
-Dreamschool - Flying
Yeah... I don't really know what that means.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dentistry

Tomorrow I have a dentist appointment. It might sound weird, but as I've grown older it's been really nice to see the childhood "dentist-fear" disappear.

In general, I feel a lot less anxious about a variety of things in my life than I did even as recently as four years ago.

***
I have the next two weeks off from school thanks to our teacher going of and joining the ETA. (Inside joke.) For that time I have planned to slack, screw studying kanji and put off writing two essays. Since my plans for doing things usually fail miserably, let's see what happens.

***
I'm getting pretty good at finding people on the internet. I could make a good stalker if I was just a bit more crazy.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sweet Memories and Remembrance

Sweet Memories and Sweet Memories (Remembrance).

If it doesn't show up it probably means Ourmedia fucked it up. I'm really considering finding another host for these things, I tried uploading about a dozen times before it finally got it since the upload seemed to keep stalling and the files didn't appear on my file list. And then when it finally appeared it showed to copies of the remix. Well, no big problem, I thought, I'll just delete it. Except that didn't work either. So... if you have look at my profile there, ignore the fact that there may be multiple entries of some songs.

Classical

It was only a matter of time, I guess. After a bit of consideration I Googled a bit and found Classic Cat.

One, or rather the, biggest problem I had was I didn't know what to start with. Eventually I just tried to find songs from a CD compiled by Tetsuya Komuro (who it seems is my favourite musician at the moment).

I'm not at the point where I can really enjoy it yet, as I'm used to music with far more easily observable patterns. But perhaps with time.

***
Have you noticed, by the way, that in movies and such, people who listen to classical music are often portrayed negatively? In most movies it seems like it's just serial-killing psychos and rich snobs opposing whatever cause the protagonist is pursuing who listen to classical music. Or if it's a "good guy" it's usually the undiscovered musical wonder-child who's playing his/her violin (as it invariably is) in the street.

***
Speaking of music, I have made a new recording, but I figured I would make a remix that I upload at the same time. So, tomorrow, maybe.