Archive for July, 2007

An eventfull few days

Tuesday, July 31st, 2007

Over the last couple of days several things have come to pass.

 First, though not chronologically, was sjors and kim’s b-day party.

Now, for those of you that don’t know sjors. He is best described by the party he threw. The party was one one with a dresscode: B-movie apperal. Dress up as your favourite character in a BAD movie. Needless to say: He filled the place with vampires, werewolves, zombies etc etc. To have 40 people in one place for your birthday dressed up as they were . . . pretty amazing. Of course, this was also some of sjors’ worst roleplaying I’ve seen to date. A jumping hyper . . . zombie?? I dunno, it just doesn’t match. Anyway, sjors is a person dating from before ADHD testing, otherwise he’d’ve spent significantly more time drugged out of his brain. But he is the ADHD bassplayer crazy ass sonofabitch in B-movie apperal . . . . in a good way. And for Kim . . . . I could say many good things, but the thing I think speaks the best of her is that she’s still with Sjors. I mean, I love the guy, but I limit my exposure to him.  . . . . He’d drive me nuts in no time, flat.

So . . . . the party. As stated, it was a B-movie apperal movie. So many people came as zombie, werewolf, corpse. Then there was Barbarella, a nameless gangster, some killer tomatoes, screamers (innocent victims :D) and  . . . me. The thing with bad movies is that they’re  . . . bad. But there’s always that detail that could’ve improved that movie so much. Say . . . . those kids should’ve known that splitting up was a BAD idea. And while it was a stroke of genius to let the leads be played by zombie vikings, it would’ve been even better had they been zombie viking lesbians. And with that thought in mind I dressed up as a Ninja-Pirate-Vampire-from-outter-Space. And because I only had 1 ninja thingy, I dressed Mayke up as Pirate-Vampire-Lesbian-from-outter-Space. It took some alcohol, but the more inebriated the other patrons were, the easier they recognised the costumes. I’ll try and obtain some pictures this time as I know who has some . . . . They’re not in the country at the moment, nor are they within easy reach of an internet portal. So it’ll be a while. But they should be back thrusday. So instead of trying to describe a party such as that I’ll simply refer you to the upcomming pictures as I can’t possbile do it justice.

This party took place on my last working day. So I am now, same as sjors but in a more practical way. Unemployed. Got some nice flowers and a gift card from the boss though. Oh, and I nearly got to blow the place up. hmmmmm, good times

On the not so bright side: I’ve gotten to say goodbye to my puppy. At almost 15 years old she’s had a good life. But her condition has deteriorated so much over the last few days that it’s best to just let her go. The injection is scheduled for wednesday. If she’s not passed on on her own accord by then we’ll help her along.

She was a good dog.

Then yesterday we went to an amusement park because . . . well, damnit. Because WE CAN. We went to Walibi world, former Six Flags. With a weather forecast of 70% rain . . . we had a total of 10 minutes of it :D. And of that we were outside for a whole 15 seconds of it. For some reason there were only a few people there. Well, maybe “a few” is an understatement. But with an average waiting time under 10 minutes it wasn’t quite up to summer-capacity. Deep-fried food, Fast rides, candy . . .  Wheeeeeeeeee. No clowns  to amuse us this time. . . . but we had a blast nonetheless.

And then today I write this on my new flaptop. Working out how to type at a decent speed withouth double-clicking by resting my hand on the mouse-thingy. Wheeeeee, new electronic gizmo to play with . . . . . Hell, it’ll be enough to keep me distracted ’till my departure. If I don’t get too frustrated by it . . . . Vista, sigh. Are you sure you want to do this? Are absolutely sure you want to do this? You need administrator level to do this. Windows has detected that you are about to try an unsafe operation, are you sure you wish to do this. DAMN, that’s annoying.

I just hope it won’t keep me from throwing my own party right and proper come saturday.

And then there’s the bit that relates to the Japan thing. You know, the reason I started this blog. I received my contracts for the job thrusday. So I can now finish the remaining paperwork. . . . . Showing up at school today though get me 1 referral to someone else and 3 I-dunno-wait-’till-the-regular-person-is-back’s. Grand.

Well, this is me signing off. Waiting for the phone to ring to see if Maaike doesn’t make it ’till wednesday

Back to your regular scheduled programming

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

Harry’s done.

For those of you still eagerly awaiting the end I’ll just say this and refrain from adding “for” to that or anything of that nature. No spoilers, that’d be cruel, I certainly would’ve been tempted to avada kadavra anyone that had tried to spoil it for me.

I’d started reading this book because I am slightly neurotic and I can’t just leave a 7 part series at 6, however bad that one was. And it was. Looking back on 6 I can’t help but only see the HUGE plot hole Mrs. Rowling created. For those of you that are hesitatent in buying part 7 for these reasons, let me reassure you that that the hole is covered pretty nicely. I won’t go into whether it was planned or just a nice save, I don’t follow online publications/speculations on this subject. Part 6 was released way past deadline and was accompanied by pressures due this magnitudes. So, save or planned, I’ll leave it up to you.

While I try to refrain from learning of such things before their release I’ve heard my share of possible plots. None of these luckily came to pass. Nor did my own solution to the hole. Good thing too, as it would’ve been way too corny. I am, after all, not a real writer and she is . . . . And if she isn’t she’s now got enough people working for her to think of such clever solutions. Still felt a bit forced though.

I’ve been keeping my expectations low (helps not to get disappointed) about this book, as I do most movies now. Problem with reading as much as I have, and seeing as many movies as I have: There’s only so many plausible plot-twists. Only so many things you can pull in a story. And you KNOW that when X happens Y can’t possibly happen in a book/movie of today. So I discovered Harry’s fate quite a few pages before the end. It was still an enjoyable read. On some points cypher was right: “Ignorance is bliss”. You can just sit back and enjoy a story being told, not thinking of inconsistencies or upcoming consequences of current decisions made by the characters.

Anyway, with HP out of the way I can now return to my studies of japanese and prepare for my march on the くうこう (airport, pronunciation: Ku-u-ko-u, great éh)

3 days ’till the B-movie party and 10 days ’till the going away party

10 days ’till this blog goes life for everyone 😀

10 days ’till my gf gets exposed 😛

Harry Potter 7

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

All blogging off-line due to Harry.

HP7

I swear he took out my ip

Japanese (Language)

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

You’ve heard me state before that the Japanese Language sucks.

But of course, things aren’t as simple just because I say so.

The Japanese written Language consists of several different parts. And I’ll start with just the alphabets, leaving grammar out of things completely for now.

I. Kanjis

II. Hiragana

III. Katakana

These are the building blocks of the Language. Before you start measuring Kanji against vowel and Hiragana against Consonant . . . . it doesn’t work that way. Before some historical point, the entire written Japanese language was built up of Kanjis. One sign indicating one word. Where is station and is dog. This is a very clear system. Very precise. Very Very elaborate. There’s more than 40.000 Kanjis. All of them having very little connection between shape and pronunciation. A list of 1945 mandatory Kanjis was compiled by the Japanese Ministry of Education to clarify what any japanese citizen should know after school as a minimum to get by.

Now, around 1700 the Japanese came into contact with other nations that didn’t use this form of communication . . . That’d be us. For us they started to make a system based on phonetics, similar to our alphabet. The two systems of Hiragana and Katakana emerged from this.

The Hiragana are used to express modern Japanese words.

The Katakana are used express modern foreign words.

Now, before you mistake this for 3 separate systems. . . . All 3 can and will be used in 1 sentence. But by the nature of the signs used one can derive what kind of word is used. “Com-pu-ta”, a word only invented after the introduction will be expressed in hira-/kata-kana. Whereas “dog” will most likely be expressed in Kanji . . . though it is entirely possible to spell inu (dog) in either of the other 2 systems.

Well, that’s a rather short and crude way to describe it as . . . . there is a kanji for computer, there’s Kanjis which look exactly like katakanas and should you express a dell “com-pu-ta” in katakana (for being foreign) but a sony “com-pu-ta” in hiragana (for being japanese)?

Well . . . follow the link above to the hiragana and katakana alphabets. And look at it for a while. Then you can decide for yourself if I am worthy of pity.

Please consider this while not thinking of the year in Japan that comes with it

Or the €15.000 I’ll get for it

That’s what I thought, life is hard éh. I guess I’ll just have to keep labouring and get this thing done.

Oh, and if you go here you can see my brand spanking new visa.

And here are some pictures from the Brussels trip. Though there are still only a few there. I hope to get some better ones later.

PDM II

Monday, July 16th, 2007

Well, there was more info I learned in Brussels and that will be posted here. But first let me say that yesterday’s BBQ was a grand success. The thunderstorm passed and left me wanting to wear shorts. It was actually quite warm enough without slaving over a smoldering heap of coals. This was mostly done by my sisters man-in-servitude Gijs, but I helped out . . . a little.

Seeing the (almost) entire family was fun. Meeting the latest additions was great, and somewhat overdue to be honest, should’ve gone to see ’em way sooner. Finn and Yannick however, seemed in good health and cheerful, paying little attention to all those monoliths moving above them and playing with my old toys. . . . and gravel.

After having spent time in Brussels it was rather hard to reiterate what I had heard. Mostly coz it was a non-stop torrent of information for 2 days, but talking with the family it all came back.

Some people would worry for me going to japan. Yakuza, snakes, spiders and flying cockroaches . . . some people might be daunted by all of this. Having spent a year in a country with 7 of the top 10 raking “most dangerous spiders” I wasn’t that worried myself. But I was somewhat surprised with the description presented at the PDM. Japan was characterized as the “safest country in the world”. People abide by rules, big rules, small rules.

I’ll illustrate. A former participant lost his laptop in the metro. Twice. He got it back. Twice. Japan is a country where one can put a ghetto-blaster out in front of the store to do some advertising . . . and it’ll stay there. You won’t find (cigarette)filters in the street because it’s illegal to litter. Here we can’t keep smokers to keep within 5 metres of the “smoking poles” and there they just won’t do it at all. Take a look at this Wiki and compare the robbery rates. My sister has a 177 times bigger chance at being robbed where she’s going. This was in 1990 and I’m sure it’s changed somewhat . . . But I doubt it’s increased that much.

This is due to many different factors, of which one is directly tied into why “The centre discourages driving in Japan”. Japanese will follow rules, explicitly. While we are taught to drive in a manner somewhere between what the rules say and the way people actually do it. And then there’s the downward slope from there to reality. Whereas the Japanese adhere to the rules. In driving, in robberies, larceny and murder. Well, most of ’em anyway, seeing as people are still killed/robbed/etc. there. Just not at a rate remotely comparably to ours.

Oh, have I mentioned I’ll have a “Japanese-style toilet” ?? I’m tempted to google it, but to be honest I’d like to just experience it fresh for the first time without having read up on it. I just hope Japanese plumbing isn’t comparable to French toiletry. Or worse: Kenian. /shudder

Oh well, lots of information still coming when I actually get to “Nippon”. And I won’t be presenting you with statistics, but with actual experiences and photos to prove it. The current link to “Japan” on my photopage still being somewhat barren.

For now, I have to go apply for a visa and then get back to my studies. Oh yeah, these last 6 weeks will just fly by studying for exams 🙁

PDM

Sunday, July 15th, 2007

I’ve just returned from the Pre-Departure-Meeting of the Vulcanus in Japan (ViJ) program

You know, that japan thing. That thing I’ve been psyched about for the last couple of months. The thing I started this blog for. THAT thing!

The thing that will get me out of your hair for a year.

Ah, I see I’ve got your attention.

Now, I could describe this chronologically, in which case I’d have to start with the subway breaking down and having to navigate the streets of Brussels by midnight.

Or I could start with incorporating what lectures I received at the EU-Japan Centre

Japan is the “Land of Wa” Wa being ワ or わ in either katakana or hiragana. Or, if I were to explain it to you in term you’d understand. Japan is the “Land of Harmony”. Harmony being the main driving force in japan and in the lives of the Japanese. Next to the things I already knew about the Japanese, subdued conversational tone, limited body movements, etc. I was informed of more discrepancies between myself and my soon-to-be-hosts. For one, Japanese will focus on shared qualities, whereas most westerners will identify things by looking at differences. They will try to affirm the relationship between two parties by discussing the matters on which they agree. They will strive to “Harmonize” with their new partners.

Now, next to lots of information about the Japanese, I learned a great deal about the program and: YEAH, I don’t have to pay rent. Wheeeeeeeeeee. €15.000 solely for food, drink, travel and FUN.

Then there was the not so good news: I have to commute 75 minutes . . . . both ways. And that’s the Internship travel time. I have not been placed yet for a dormitory during my Tokyo stay, but app. 75 minutes is 15 minutes less then average in Tokyo. The way dorms are arranged in Tokyo is purely based on Host company, and with Mitsubishi as host I have a better than most chance of staying closer to city centre (Mitsubishi being a big and wealthy company). Being the only person working for Mitsubishi however, this also means I’ll be the only ViJ participant in that building. Whatever commute time I have I’ll most likely be spending with a book, or practice chikan, an important part of Japanese culture.

There was plenty of information shoved my way, but I won’t bore you with all of that.

I met all the participants to the program, except for one who was unable to leave America. Made lotsa new friends. Measured up against them, and I think I’ll do fine. So far there is one other player who will demand a lot of the limelight, but it’ll be interesting to see which of the others will start playing dominant parts once they become more familiar with the other players/English or Japanese language. But, I’ll have to see if it’s a position I want to maintain as I am an einzelgänger, and I may just get bored with everyone.

Then there’s the added choice of what I want to post here as at least one other participant has found this blog already. Hi Raph. So, I won’t be able to use this as freely to spout my frustrations about everyone else I may have thought. Then again, it’s only 1 person so far . . . .

More information later. Right now I have to go out into this tremendous thunderstorm to go to a . . . . Barbeque. this’ll be good 😛