Back Home Again

 Photography, Travel  Comments Off on Back Home Again
May 292013

I’m home. The trip to Asheville was full of photo opportunities, so I took a bunch of pictures.

One night there were fireworks in the valley.

And on the 27th, I went to Mt. Mitchell to try out the auto-bracketing of my Nex.

I also picked up a new small, compact, light-ish aluminum tripod made by MeFoto. It folds up pretty small, and the legs will lock in 3 different positions. It’s nice and light, and compact. I’ll have to give it more of a workout to see how it holds up to more rigorous travel, but so far it looks good. It’s a lot better than my old Slik tripod that cracked and broke, or my 25-lb Manfrotto, which is great for video, but terrible for carrying up a mountain.

Now I’m back home, because I have work tomorrow. Lately I’ve been working for a Japanese company in RTP, helping their legal staff understand the US legal system and US culture. It’s been a win-win of sorts, because they get help on English stuff, and I get to use my Japanese every now and then.

Headed to Asheville

 Japanese Language, Travel  Comments Off on Headed to Asheville
May 242013

I’m headed off to Asheville for the next few days to help my folks out around the house a bit.

The online classes at JOI are going pretty well so far. I like the structure, and the pricing is good. The teachers are doing a great job, and I’m learning a bunch. (Like how much I don’t know!)

If you’re looking for a way to work on your Japanese, and there isn’t a language school nearby, I’d recommend giving them a try. It’s only $9 to try it out.

Grabbing the N1 Bull by the Horns

 Education, Japanese Language, Technology  Comments Off on Grabbing the N1 Bull by the Horns
May 072013

Well, it’s May, and that means it’s time to start getting ready for the N1 again. This time, I’m going to get more serious about it than last time, because I have some pockets of free time here and there to work on it.

My calligraphy class, which was taught in Japanese, is now over for good, so I have one less way to speak/learn. I had a lot of fun there, even though it was a one-hour drive each way for a one-hour class (well, it usually ran a bit over, but I really enjoyed it!)

That class, plus my twice-weekly business Japanese sessions have helped me keep my conversational skills going, but it’s hard for me to keep my grammar and vocabulary knowledge highly polished without doing some sort of language classes that focus on it.

Going over some of my notes from Yamasa really shows how much rust can build up in unseen areas. I notice that there are some grammar phrases I should be using, but I just never use in daily conversation, so I need to focus on those a bit more.

So this week, I’m going to try out the Japanese Online Institute. It’s an online speech + chat + whiteboard-based way to learn Japanese in either small groups or privately. The first 3 lessons are only $9, so I’m game to try. After that, group lessons range in price from 500 yen (if you buy 180 lessons) to 900 yen (if you buy 5). The dollar/yen pricing is a bit off, probably due to the plummeting yen.

If I like the classes, then I’ll probably pony up a decent chunk of cash to get some lessons at a discount. I want pummel the N1 this year, so I don’t have to mess with it anymore.

They have a nice variety of classes, so it looks promising.

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