Sunday, December 18, 2005

Something to be proud of

The Dead Channel

Visit and see if you like it. There's more than just my stuff there, and more to come. I'm proud to be a part of it.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Slow Progress

Today, so far, I have written one word in a story. One word. And I didn't even increase the word count of that story. I changed a word.

I changed "quietly" to "suspiciously."

It's an adverb for God's sake! Adverbs are second-rate words in the first place. Who the hell needs adverbs anyway, especially dumb, pulpy adverbs like "suspiciously!?"

I'm already thinking of going and deleting it. At least that would double today's progress-- sort of.

Friday, October 21, 2005

What to Write, What to Write

Ah, yes, nothing is probably the correct answer. If I just write whatever crap comes into my head when I have a free moment you will just get a rambling stream of crap.

Deciding what to write seems to be the hardest thing for me. Make that second hardest. The hardest thing is dealing with the ongoing doubt that whatever I finally decide to write is a worthy topic to write about. This wouldn't be much of a problem if I was in the swift tribe, but I am not. It takes me a month or two, maybe three, to write a few thousand words. During those long weeks, every time I sit down to try and write, the nagging doubts come to visit: Is this really worth writing? Do I really want to keep writing this? Maybe if I did something else it would be easier.

Luckily, although I pretend to be morose, I am a terrible optimist. I can usually convince myself that I want to keep writing. Which is what I am doing now (not with this post, but with a story I'm trying to write).

In other news, I believe I have discovered a use for blogs: They can be used to keep writers from writing books about writers who can't think of something to write. Instead, the writers can write about not writing in their blogs, and save us all the trouble of reading about how writers can't write. Unless you read writers' blogs, but then it's your own damn fault now isn't it?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Dead Blog

I am, in fact, alive. This blog hasn't been updated because I haven't found a lot of time for bloggism lately. I'm in the process of being transferred to California for three to five years, and right now that involves a lot of flying around, filling out forms and staying in hotels. In fact, I'm posting this from a hotel in Shinjuku, which is pretty cyber now isn't it?

Maybe the blogging bug will bite me again sooner or later. You never know, I could start blogging regularly tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Fly Away

Here I sit in this Starbucks analog, Tully's coffee, in Narita, where I haven't been since I first came to Japan almost nine years ago. Through the wonders of international connecting flights, I have roughly three hours to kill before I need to even approach the departure gate, and this after having walked very slowly to the check-in counter and wandered very lesurely from there towards the first sign of hot caffinated beverage vending.

I look out over a cavernous hall, dusty latticework over the check-in counters, cattle gates and rails for efficient packing and separation of humans. A slightly battered but still efficient machine for expelling people from the country at high velocity. (Somewhere, elsewhere, is the reverse image, the catcher's mitt made out of customs officials and luggage carosels, for capturing those intent on entering Japan, and making sure they are legitimate, or at least have the proper paper cards stapled to their passports.)

I wonder how long I will be able to keep my Japanese mode alive. It is already under assault by close cropped blond hair and strangely chunky looking American airline logos. The staff of this coffee shop are helping me fight it off, in their way, by saying konnichiwa every time someone walks past, and failing to be able to negotiate any deviation from the standard script of coffee sales in English. I like that. I don't need coffee sales in English yet. I'll get enough of that at the other end of this flight.

And look at that, my coffee is already gone, and only twenty minutes spent.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Translation

Do not forgive translators, for they know what they do.

About fifteen years ago, when I was an otaku, I remember watching an episode of Maison Ikkoku, a romantic-comedy sort of anime. In this particular episode one of the characters, a charismatic, macho tennis coach, offers to take everyone to the beach in his car. However, it turns out he can't drive because they want to take a dog along and he has a paralyzing fear of dogs. Instead the lead female character (and owner of the dog) drives. At the time two things about this episode struck me as indicitave of the mysoginistic nature of Japanese society.

One was that people were startled the female character had a driver's license. Maybe that point was a little indicative of sexism, but not as much as I thought. It turns out that firstly, you can get by fine in Japan without a driver's license. Public transit is actually useful, (unlike in my home town) and Japanese cities are often arranged so that it doesn't require a long drive to get to, say, a supermarket. Most things you need will be withing walking or cycling distance.

Secondly, getting a driver's license in Japan is an insanely expensive and drawn out ordeal.

These two factors combine to make it actually pretty common, even today, for an adult not to have a driver's license. (For some reason it didn't register as so significant that the other main male character in Maison Ikkoku, a university student, didn't have a driver's licence, which would be quite unusual in North America.)

The second sexist point that struck in my mind was when a young boy exclaims admiringly that the female lead "drove like a man." Again, this is indicative of a bit of sexism, but not in the way I thought. The problem is translation. Probably what the boy said was "otoko mitai unten shita", which, sure enough, translates roughly as "drove like a man." However, in Japanese driving "like a man" doesn't imply driving 'correctly' the way it does in English, instead it means driving aggressively, possibly even recklessly.

(Somebody with better Japanese than me will no doubt turn up momentarily to point out that I am completely, utterly wrong.)

There is still sexism in that women are expected to be polite and cautious while men are expected to be aggressive and reckless, but I do wonder if perhaps English is the language showing sexist tendencies here, with the positive implications of a phrase like "like a man". Or perhaps it is me showing my sexism by thinking that the phrase carries a positive implication at all.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Good News

Concerning that picture posted below, (1) not a hoax, apparently, and (2) they found his family.

Thanks to timely Internet postings, the 2-year-old boy pictured above, Hannes Bergstroem, is now safe in the arms of his Swedish family. The photos were spotted on the Web by the child's uncle, who rushed to Phuket International Hospital to collect him. The entire family, including Hannes' father, mother, brother and grandparents, had been vacationing in southern Thailand when the December 26, 2004 tsunami struck, separating the boy from his relatives. His mother, Suzanne Bergstroem, is still listed among the missing.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Do You Know This Boy?



I'm not usually one for forwarding those mails you get about Bill Gates needing to test his email system or the kid in the UK who needs postcards, but this one, forwarded by a friend, appears to be legitimate. The hospital exists, and so does the domain for the original sender (which I have modified slightly, but humans should be able to figure it out):

ORIGINAL MESSAGE
From: Laura Taylor-Vann [laura dot taylor-vann at sophtlogic dot com]
Sent: 04 January 2005 14:31
Subject: FW: PLEASE SEND THIS TO ALL YOU KNOW.

Nobody knows who this boy belongs to! Please send this to all - we mean all! - the people in your entire network. Looking for his family.
The boy is about 2 years old, from Khoa Lak and is missing his parents.
Nobody knows what country he comes from. If anybody knows him please contact us by phone 076-249400-4 ext. 1336, 1339 or e-mail : info@phuket-inter-hospital.co.th