I was trying to find an authoritative etymology of the word “satsuma” in English. It’s not completely apropos of nothing; the word is definitely of Japanese origin, being the name of a place in Kyushu. In Japanese, the word “satsuma” usually refers to “satsuma imo”, the sweet potato that I wrote about earlier. Satsuma oranges are called “mikan” in Japanese, by the way.
I just had a real “only in Japan” moment. Only in Japan are you disturbed from your thoughts by some guy with a van singing “yaki imo, yaki imo, yaki imo...” through a megaphone.
I saw a misspelling this morning. Nothing unusual about that, except that this one was in Japanese! It is hard, but possible to misspell a few words in Japanese, and someone had managed it, in metre-high lettering across a bridge. It was some official banner exhorting drivers to take care and drive safely.
I had quite an interesting day today. This despite the fact that I felt absolutely awful most of the morning due to going to bed too late. I never learn, do I?
I’ve been sent a new certificate to say that I passed the Japanese Language Proficiency Test. It turns out that they had used the wrong characters to write “Osaka” (the test location). They had printed 大坂 instead of 大阪. It’s not very different, and I certainly didn’t notice it when I was checking the important stuff like my name. Although those characters have also been used historically to write Osaka, they are considered incorrect today.
I looked at the empty roll of duct tape sitting on my desk and thought that it would made an excellent drum shell.
I have left it a long time to express my opinion about the forthcoming Gulf War II. Believe me, it isn’t that I don’t have an opinion. However, I’ve been listening to all the propaganda and trying to work out the facts. There is no unbiased news on this topic, so the best one can hope to do is to read as widely as possible and hope that the truth is hidden somewhere in that vast corpus of obscured data.
I’m drinking from a small can of pseudo-beer, which they gave me free at the local liquor shop when I picked up some beer and wine yesterday. It’s a sample of a new product, so I guess there’s some kind of promotion going on.
I’m so tired! I slept at lunchtime (a siesta?) and I slept on the train home, and I’m still exhausted. I bought some small lamps for my room the other day in an effort to improve my sleep patterns. The light in my flat is so bright that it seems to disrupt my circadian rhythm. Perpetual daylight, like the arctic summer or something. I need some darkness to feel that it’s night and to prepare for sleep, otherwise I never have any impetus go to bed. I suppose it’s obvious that sitting under stadium level lighting isn’t conducive to a normal sleep pattern. In my case, I have infamously nocturnal tendencies anyway. I think that I resent going to bed in a way, because the evening represents freedom, while sleeping is the last step before the tyranny of the morning routine.
The person who was coordinating the seminar yesterday said that I looked like I was going to die! I think I must have been tired, because I fell asleep at 7pm, woke up at midnight and took off my clothes that I was just sleeping in, and went back to sleep from 3am until 10am.
I can’t remember why I originally agreed to do it, but I did, so I ended up working on Saturday afternoon, when I should by rights have been sleeping and lazing around. I taught a single, 90 minute class at an English seminar for elementary school kids. What’s worse, it really didn’t go well!
Normally, around this time on a Sunday evening, I’d be feeling depressed at the end of my weekly fragment of freedom. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my job. It’s actually good fun, most of the time. It’s just the problem of being powerless, having to get up and go to some arbitrary location at an arbitrary time, which is emphasised by the shift from two days of freedom to five days of timetable enslavement. After all, no one likes Mondays, do they?
Unsurprisingly, not everyone agrees with my point of view! So here is an email response to my comments on the House of Lords:
A long time ago, back in December, I took the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (Nihongo Nouryoku Shiken), level 2. The levels go from 4 at the bottom end up to the fiendishly difficult level 1 at the top. As I recall, you need level 2 to enroll in a Japanese university as a regular student, which gives a rough idea of the level of ability required. (In fact, I remember reading recently that they are moving towards some other exam for university entrance, but that doesn’t invalidate the comparison.)
I thought that my atrocious typing last night was so bad, I’m just going to leave the last entry as it is for your amusement! In my defense, I do have a cut on the tip of my middle finger...
For a bit under JPY 9000, I picked up an old IBM Thinkpad laptop yesterday. Despite the fact that it only has 24MB of memory and a Pentium 133 processor, it actually feels reasonably fast with the copy of Windows 98 that came on there. That certainly surprised me—I couldn’t believe it was really such a humble beast from its performance. Windows 98 really isn’t that bad after all, is it?