silver lining

every cloud has a silver lining.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Merits of Flatsharing

About one month has passed since I moved to Tokyo. It's easier for me to get used to live here in shareflat than I expected. Up to now I feel more advantages than disadvantages to live with six other people in one floor of the building.

First of all, I don't feel lonly. There are several kinds of people, but it's same in the point that we live together in the same condition. We can help each other without hesitation and such communication help me live without feeling of loneliness. Sharemates are like family members.

Secondly, the rent is very cheap compared with living alone. Especially my room is the cheapest one because there are washing machine and shower room near here. Sometimes I feel noisy, but it's good for me because I can notice when I use washing machine, shower room, toilet, and kitchen. In addition, I'm an early bird and my working hour is totally different from others, so I don't feel much noise actually.

These days I found one more nice merit. We share the kitchen, so we have to wash the dishes and put them away right after cooking. It gives me good custom: not pile up dirty dishes!

Monday, October 30, 2006

New Suit and Used Books

I didn't have a suit for my job interview, so I bought it the other day. I wanted to get one in charcoal grey, but it had been already sold out.

In the evening on that day, I dropped by Jimbocho to get some secondhand books. I remember I bought so many books when I used to come here on this Kanda Book Festival day a couple of years ago. Now I don't have such strength.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Gender Gap

I'd like to write about what we discussed in the last Sunday English club before I forget. The topic on that day was gender gap.

Firstly we have to know what gender is. Oxford Dictionary says "the fact of being male or female". I think this definition is not enough. The word gender is sometimes used in contrast to biological sex, so I'd like to add the difference in a social context to emphasise social and cultural dimention.

We talked about chores at work, women-only train car, timing of promotion and marriage for women, and so forth. After all, one guy said like this: there is a fact of gender gap, but the important thing is how we feel about it. If you feel uncomfortable, you should take action. If you don't feel anything, there's no gap for you actually. Gender gap is a matter which differs much depending on the cultural contidion.

I understand the concept, but I want to know where that difference comes from. According to the report "Women's Empowerment: Measuring the Global Gender Gap" in 2005 by World Economic Forum, the top country with the smallest gender gap is Sweden, while Japan is 38th in 58 countries.
It seems that Sweden takes affirmative actions in many fields, not only in politics but also in any other time of employment and promotion. I'd like to know how Sweden forms those kind of social system.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Picture of Dorian Gray

After reading "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ", we read "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde.

This is a story of a young man named Dorian Gray. He has his portrait painted by Hallward which reflects Dorian's acts. He remains young and beautiful no matter how immoral things he does. Instead his portrait gets older and older. He can't stand his own ugly portrait and put a knife into the portrait. In the end, police find a bleeding, hideous-looking old man with a knife in his heart, and the portrait of Dorian, as beautiful as he was.

There's no description of Lord Henry Wotton in the extract we read in the class, but he seems to be a key person who suggests Dorian that the only thing worth pursuing in life is beauty, and the fulfillment of the senses (hedonism).

Oscar Wild wrote not only novels but also plays ("Lady Windermere's Fan", "Salomé" ,"The Importance of Being Earnest" etc), short stories for children ("The Happy Prince" etc) and poems. I want to read his comedy next time.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

In the Advanced Reading class, we read "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson. He is also known as the auther of "Treasure Island".

I guess I've never read this story. It's so famous so I forgot whether I did read it or not. I just know a similar story in Germany; "Peter Schlemihls wundersame Geschichte" by Chamisso, and some stories by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Once I read through the complete works of Hoffman, and I felt the same taste (double identity, etc) a bit in this story.

According to what the teacher said, he wrote stories very easily. There were some ideas in his head, and all he had to do was just writing it down. It's like Mozart I thought.

You can read "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" in Japanese here.

Seigo Matsuoka says that Atsushi Nakajima's novel, "Light, Wind and Dreams" is based on the life of Stevenson. I'd like to read it, too.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

My Nickname

These days I have a lot of chance to get to know students at Phoenix, and they often ask me "Where does your nickname "Nabo" come from?"

Well, this is my nickname when I was a student at elementary school and junior high school. First I was called "pumpkin" (kabocha in Japanese). It didn't include any negative meaning, I guess, I believe... I forgot why I was called pumpkin anyway.

My real name is Naho, so one of my friends started to call me “Nabocha” instead of “Kabocha”. Then all my friends called me like that. Sometimes it changed like “Nabo-chan” or just “Nabo”. One time even a home room teacher called me “Nabo”. I really liked my nickname, so I decided my nickname at Phoenix as “Nabo”.

I love not only my nickname but also pumpkin! I like pumpkin pie and boiled pumpkin. Oh, Halloween is coming up soon!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

NY Stream

While looking for suitable titles for my drama class, I found a good New York information site. That is NY Stream.

You can watch some scenes of Broadway musicals for free!

Avenue Q, Beauty and the Beast, Chicago, Hairspray, Mamma Mia, Movin' Out, The Phantom of the Opera, Rent, The Lion King, Wicked
The Producers, Fiddler on the Roof, Jersey Boys

Mmm, it makes me feel like going to the Broadway soon!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Witty remarks 17

*We first make our habits, and then our habits make us. (John Dryden)

*The longest journey is the journey inward. (Dag Hammarskjöld)

*For a lost things care not. (a saying)

*One can go a long way after one is weary. (a saying)

*Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure. (Thomas Edison)

*Do the things you fear and the death of fear is certain. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

*Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. (Winston Churchill)

*The future is the past in preparation. (Pierre Dac)

*A great man shows his greatness by the way he treats little men. (Thomas Carlyle)

*To a woman the first kiss is just the end of the beginning, to a man it is the beginning of the end. (Helen Rowland)

*Memory serves its own master. (Murphy's law)

*Never ask a barber if you need a haircut. (Murphy's law)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Feel of Winter

Fine autumn weather had continued over two weeks, but it rained and got pretty cold suddenly today. These days I feel at a loss what I should wear in every morning. It doesn't matter because I'm always like this in autumn. The problem is that I didn't bring much clothes for winter season! I want to buy one coat for this winter, but I don't want to spend much money on clothes...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday English Club

From today I joined the English study circle (club) which takes place on every Sunday from 10:00 to 12:00 at Excelcior near Phoenix. I don't have any class on Sunday, but I decided to go there every week because it's a good chance to speak English anyway, and I can meet new friends there!

The topic today was "safety". First we did a pair work and explained what we discussed to everyone later. I talked about drinking and driving, and all about my insurances.

Actually, I did drinking and driving once when I had a junior high school reunion party in last August. I thought I wouldn't drink any alcohol there, so I drove my car to the party. But I drunk a bit and went home with my car! I thought it was okay because there were few cars on the street midnight in Gotemba, and it took only 3 minutes to my house. I went home without any accident, but that is what I shouldn't do! Now drinking and driving concerns is one of the big matter of concerns in Japan. I heard a news before that a company made a key with alcoholic sensor which actually cannot use when it catches certain level of alcohol. If this system takes place with law enforcement, drinking and driving disappear without doubt.

Secondly, I talked about insurances.When I moved to the present shareflat, I didn't have to pay any damage deposit, key money, or fire insurance to the owner. I rent just my room, and just pay the room rent monthly. It means there's no insurance for me if some accidents (earthquake, fire, etc) occur. I chose this shareflat because it's cheap, but I never know what I should do when something occurs! And I'm ashamed to say that I pay nothing on injured insurance, hospitalized insurance and life insurance! There is nothing more valuable than good health, but nothing gurantees my health.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Enthusiastic New Students

Today I went to the English school just for having a meeting with my drama classmates. After I took the Intensive Input, I spent time in the lobby until the meeting. Then I met some new students there. When I spoke to one man, he suddenly started speaking many things with passion. He said he needed high TOEFL score to enter an institution at his company to study abroad. I forgot this kind of emotion which I used to have when I entered this school. It's not easy to carry out one's original intention, but I have to remember it sometimes. I must study harder!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Reading and Editing Class

Today I had two classes at English school. They are "Advanced Reading" and "Introduction to Editing".

I don't get used to go to school weekday in the morning, so I was a little bit late for the reading class. In this class, we're reading extracts from English literature. We have to read it in the class, understand what it says on the spot, and analyze it if possible. Today we read the extract from "The Return of the Native" by Thomas Hardy.

He seems like a pessimistic man. The teacher said that everyone dies in the end. But he said he liked his novel because it made him think anything is fine compared with this miserable, dismal story. It seems that the auther depicts the scenery of Wessex (e.g. heath) with beautiful writing, and says no one can avoid their fate. Mmm... I want to read it in Japanese first, then I want to try it in English if possible.

Next week we'll read "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson. Actually I've never read through any English novel in English until now. I'd like to try one novel at least in this term.

In the afternoon, there was the editing class. The text book is "The Chicago Manual of Style". This is not a book to read, so we just use it to understand the correct writing style. First we'll learn how to use punctuations. There're so many punctuations. For example,

apostrophe ( ', ’ )
brackets ( ), [ ], { }, ⟨ ⟩
colon ( : )
comma ( , )
dashes ( ‒, –, —, ― )
ellipsis ( …, ... )
exclamation mark ( ! )
full stop/period ( . )
guillemets ( « » )
hyphen ( -, ‐ )
interpunct ( · )
question mark ( ? )
quotation marks ( "', ‘ ’, “ ” )
semicolon ( ; )
slash/solidus ( / )

We have to use these punctuations properly when we write something in English. It seems boring to learn the basic rules, but it must be a great help later.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

New Term starts

Yesterday was the first day of the new term for me at the English school. I had been wondering which project work class I shoud take (a drama class or a logical presentation class) for a long time, and I made up my mind last weekend. I'm going to take a drama class again! I want to finish this school with the memory of another drama. I registered these classes this term.

(Wed) Intensive input A
(Wed) Project work Ⅱ(drama)
(Fri) Advanced Reading
(Fri) Introduction to Editing

Today I talked with my new adviser. She is proficient in phonics, and corrected my pronunciation severely when I took her Intensive input. I need it because I'd like to study English from the basic grammar again this term. I want to study English from the beginning as well as French.

a method of teaching people to read by correlating sounds with alphabetic symbols (Concise Oxford Dictionary)

There were 10 members including me in the drama class. It seems that we'll have 5 more members next week. I chose this class because I expected new members in a new teacher's class. I have tried to do that every time, and that proved right again. I really look forward to making a drama with these members! This time, I became a sub leader. I'm a kind of tired to be a leader... anyway, I like taking care of others so maybe I'll do the same thing in the end.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gov't plans global promotion of animation etc

A government task force on intellectual property rights has compiled a draft plan to promote wider exports of Japanese culture, including animation and music (NHK news).

Mr. Aso remains as a Foreign Minister who understands the importance of content industries including manga and anime, so he would play an influencial role in this intellectual property strategic program.

I lacked ability to relate content industry and Otaku culture, and take it as gov't actual plans at the last dramatic debate class... That was above my head too much.

Speaking of Mr. Taro Aso...
I really wanted him to attend the debate match the other day(^ ^ゞ

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

New Sharemate

Yesterday one member joined our shareflat and all the seven rooms on the 4th floor got occupied. The new member is a Chinese woman who studies at Ochanomizu University as a research student. She'd like to try the exam of the graduate school in next spring. She brought us the Chinese small ornament dolls as a souvenir.

We share the 2nd and 4th floor of the building, and we call it shareflat. Our shareflat is only for women, and each room is separated just by ill-fitting thin walls. I live in a room just beside the kitchen, washing machine and shower room, so it's a little bit noisy, but I've already get used to it. I can sleep if I'm tired anyway! Why did I chose this kind of room? Of course because it's cheap!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Koishikawa Library

I found a more suitable place to study. That is...

Koishikawa Library 3F!

Today I made my library card which I can use at all 11 libraries in Bunkyo ward. It takes only 5 minutes from my sharehouse to Koishikawa library by bike, and it opens from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. And I can borrow 30 books at once. Amazing!!

This library has a good collection of music materials; not only CDs but also records! I've been thinking that I should bring my CDs from my home in Gotemba, but no need with these CDs!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

My 27th Birthday

I found a nice place to study. That is...

Saintmarc Cafe in Suidobashi, 3F!

It opens from 7:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Today I studied for the Basic System Administration
Test from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
3F is no smoking area and quiet, and not so crowded. I wanted to find the cafe like this because I get sleepy when I study at my tiny room. This place is perfect!

And today was my birthday... I realized it when my mother called me this morning. Oops, I have to study harder, graduate from a university, and get out of Japan before I get 30!
Today I spent too much money. I'm a poor student, so I should not spend much money on food like this everyday! But today was a special day...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Life starts finally

On Monday, I went to National Olympics Memorial Youth Center in Yoyogi to see the ESUJ (The English-Speaking Union of Japan) University Dabating Competition 2006 as I did last year. This year I could watch the Grand Final. The motion was "This House believes that cultivating national pride in Japan will lead the nation to a better future" (愛国心を育てることは日本をより良い将来へと導く). This competition took Parliamentary Debate style.

I thought the Proposition side was much difficult than the Opposition side. Denouncing the motion is eacher than supporting it. The winner was the Opposition side and so it was also in the Model debate by UK debaters. This year I wathed it because it must give the clue for deciding my class next term, but still now I'm wondering which I should take, a logical presentation class or a drama class.

On the same day I got piles of textbooks for the correspondance course from the university. I have to make a curriculum by myself, but I must study for the basic Administration test on next Sunday. No time to rest!

Yesterday I went to Bunkyo Civic Center to submit my moving-in notification and go through some procedures of my health insurance and pension. Finally I became a citizen of Tokyo.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Reflecting on 6 months

Actually I don't want to look back the project work this term, but I guess I can't move on without reflecting on it.

I tried the dramatic debate class because I want to try a new thing always, and I've noticed that I was lacking in debate skill. My team decided the topic as Otaku culture. After the theme was decided, we knew how dramatic debate should be made, so it was tough for us to find a serious problem in the matter and make policies. But I found the site PPP (Popculture Project Policy) and some papers which could be the foundation of the affirmative side, and they were really helpful for me to think of Otaku culture as a policy debate matter.

I've been always wondering how I could make use of my drama class experiences because the process of the project work was much different. In addition I didn't know even the basic of debate itself, so I repeated trial and error again and again. I could be a leader finally just before the presentation, so I couldn't make the good atmosphere to cooperate each other from the beginning. Now I thought the half process of just bringing data in the class was only useless, because data which doesn't support the points must not be used. And the meeting should be the place where the problems are solved, not just reports are delivered. We should have the schedule or the agenda for the meeting from the beginning, but I could do that just after I became a leader.

Six months ago I set a goal for myself; not compromise on the script. This was because I met halfway on the script in the last drama class. I was so busy to manage the class. But this was just an excuse. Then what's the result? I did my best to make the script, but I had no time to think about Q & A session. This term also I became a leader and much busier because I had to do almost everything; making agenda, making the structure, revising the script, thinking about the mini drama, music, event... a kind of overload for me. I shouldn't do everything but the class situation asked me. I couldn't help do it. My advisor said to me that everyone was leader when I ask him why we didn't decide the leader and each role of the class, but still now I disagree with him. He said there could be some problems if we decide a leader, but in reality every company has a president, every section has managers who decide the important matters. Otherwise the project won't proceed smoothly.

Anyway I have lots of stress because I couldn't get any sense of achivement. We've never use Japanese, but that's it. The final goal of my class got to be make a presentation somehow. I knew we weren't ready for questions from the audience, but I lost my enthusiasm in the end. I couldn't keep the motivation. That was the most unforgivable thing. And I don't think I could improve my debate skill.

I should take a logical presentation next term, but I feel like I miss drama class. The next term must be my final project work for me...

Monday, October 02, 2006

Witty remarks 16

*Every problem is an opportunity for us to grow. (Richard Bach)

*God gave burdens, also shoulders. (Yiddish proverb)

*Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought. (Albert Szent-Györgyi)

*This world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel. (Horace Walpole)

*A moment insight is sometimes worth a life's experience. (Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.)

*People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents. (Andrew Carnegie)

*A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on. (Winston Churchill)

*No one can predict to what heights you can soar. Even you will not know until you spread your wings. (anonymous)

*Success is doing, not wishing. (Tom Hopkins)

*One friend in a lifetime is much; two are many; three are hardly possible. (Henry Adams)

*We must doubt our talent; we must not doubt our inspiration. (François Truffaut)

*Whenever you turn on the radio, you hear the last few notes of your favorite song. (Murphy's law)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Stay up All the Night

Yesterday after the extra meeting, I overslept on the train and I noticed it at Sengoku station. I wanted to go back, but it was the last train! I should have checked my last train... so I had to walk to go home over 30 minutes.
I guess my dramatic debate team falls behind any other class. I recently noticed that 3 members cannot join the festival! Yesterday, we had extra meetings for the first time, and we couldn't finished our performance in 20 minutes in the class. So I had to revise the script for the class and ended up staying up all the night. Last time when I stayed up all night, I stayed at an Internet cafe, and I couldn't help stopping reading "Glass Mask" (sorry not related to the project work!). Our presentation might be miserable, but what I can say with confidence is only that we've never used Japanese for our project work. I want to keep this till the end. Anyway I'm sleepy...