Computer Music Also Does Free/Alchemy and SFZ

 Music, Technology  Comments Off on Computer Music Also Does Free/Alchemy and SFZ
Feb 132015

A couple of things:

One, the March issue of Computer Music Magazine is doing a huge Free VST/Sample focus, so you don’t need to speak Japanese to learn all about free VSTs. They’re doing a big tutorial on Synth1, too, which I think is worth reading if you’re interested in Synth1. It’s a pretty powerful free synth that has been around for a while.

Also, if you’re looking for the Alchemy player, CM’s crazy software bundle that comes out each month has the Alchemy Player in it. It’s not the same as the full version of Alchemy, which I love, but it’s better than nothing.

There’s a bunch of other free stuff they stick in there software-wise every month. Most of the “CM” versions are essentially demo versions of real products, with some of the juicier features removed, but you can use them all you want as they are. It’s a good way to demo products you may not even know you might need. (Or you may not need. You won’t know until you mess with them a bit.)

Two, I totally forgot that Alchemy will load SFZ format files. I just spent 20 minutes playing with the violins in SSO, creating a really neat pad in Alchemy with them. It’s dead simple to do, too, since Alchemy supports the format. Such a shame that they got bought out, and we’ll probably never see the new version of Alchemy. Good for them that they got the money, but bad for us, since Alchemy is a brilliant piece of software.

I’m kind of bummed that all of the Alchemy add-ons are unavailable now, but now I can go into my SFZ files and make my own. So it’s part loss, part win.

Live School

 Education, Music, Technology  Comments Off on Live School
Feb 092015

There’s a really good Intro to Ableton Live course going on right now on Coursera, taught by Erin Barra of the Berklee College of Music. It’s only three weeks long, but it’s a good way to meet a bunch of different people who are into Live, make some music, and pick up some tips.

I’ve been using it as a way to practice working with Live and Push, and as a way to create music on deadlines. That helps a lot. Having an obligation to a group inspires me for some reason, even if it’s for 4-5 people. The music is all going to be hosted on Blend via Dropbox.

And the music I am making for the class can be found on my Blend, right here.

One of the restrictions I’m putting on myself is to only use the tools in Live Suite, no outside VSTs. So far, it’s been fun. In a way, it’s freeing in that I don’t have to obsess over picking the “perfect” synth from my stupid long list of VST plugins, instead I’ll go with the instruments in Live, which are really good in their own right.

In order to get a little deeper into some of them, like Sampler and Analog, I’ve been using’s videos to go into more detail. That’s also kind of cool– using the class as a springboard for further individual study.

The assignments themselves are also fun, in that each assignment has basic minimum requirements that have to be met, like four tracks, two audio and two MIDI, and so on. The restrictions work both as minimums and as something to prod creativity.

Another nice part of the class– Ableton is letting students enrolled in the class demo Live Studio free for 30 days, and Studio usually runs in the $600 range, if I remember correctly.

Mac Pro Video

 Art, Education, Music  Comments Off on Mac Pro Video
Sep 152014

I own a couple of Macs, but the newest one is a Mac Mini from 2006 or so. So why did I sign up for Mac Pro Video? Well, it wasn’t for Mac-anything. I found a good deal on their site– $15/month for as long as I want. And since I also finally bit the bullet and signed up for Creative Cloud, MPV looked like the best compromise for me.

I’m really into music production, but I’m also really into visual arts, web design, and programming, even. MPV has some absolutely awesome video series on music production, covering not only theory, but also DAWs, and some of the harder-to-get-used to plugins. And while there are a lot of great dudes on YouTube with great info, MPV has some great tutorials. I especially loved their series on Ableton’s Push.

And now that I’m getting in to Creative Cloud, the tutorials should come in handy,  rather than spending a couple of hours trying to find good YouTube videos. It should be a nice complement to Pencil Kings. (The Photoshop tuts there were great, as are a few of the drawing tuts I’ve been working on.)

Apr 022014

Juan had a question about how I did the Anki cards for the A+ exam. I started to write a reply, and it turned into a book. So I figured I’d post the reply as a blog post instead.

I created two types of cards for this deck.

Card Type #1: Basic Question/Answer Cards

The first type of card is a basic question/answer card, with a multiple-choice question on the front, and the answer on the back. I used that for all of the practice questions and mock test questions. That was about 60% of my deck.

Filling up the deck was pretty easy that way. I just copy/pasted the data from my PDF books (in Foxit) into a text editor, cleaned it up a little with find/replace, dumped it into a spreadsheet, then saved it as the proper data type to import into Anki. It takes some time, but it’s still a lot faster than typing every question out.

This is why I recommend the O’Reilly bookstore. All of their books come in PDF format (among others), and are DRM-free. DRM is a pain in the butt. It serves no real purpose, other than interfering with my lawful use of the material to study. I can get around the DRM with Greenshot (which takes a screen capture, then OCRs it), so it’s not like it stops anything, it just makes everything less efficient. (And it doesn’t stop real piracy!)

Sadly, Microsoft Press just left the O’Reilly store, so you can no longer get the DRM-free version of their excellent A+ prep books.

For some books, my only choice was using the Kindle Chrome app. You can’t copy/paste because “reasons,” I guess. I used Greenshot to OCR each chunk of data I wanted, and it would dump the OCR-ed text straight into the clipboard. It was generally about 97% accurate, but fixing that last 3% was really annoying.

Then I dumped the questions and answers into a spreadsheet, and added them all to Anki.

I recommend getting good mock test questions. Lots of them. Dump them in after you do the mock tests, so you don’t forget the trickier questions. If you dump them in before, you’ll lose the “I’ve never seen this before!” effect.

Also, add the study questions for things you don’t already know cold. Don’t clutter your deck with useless info you already know. (“The sun is hot,” “Water is wet,” that kind of stuff. If it’s that obvious to you, leave it out.)

Card Type #2: Fill In The Blank (AKA Cloze Deletion)

The second card type I made was a Cloze card type. “Cloze deletion” is a fancy way of saying “Fill in the blank.” You add tags around the data you want to be turned into a “_____” in the question field, and it gets revealed in the answer field as the original text. So if I tag the word “ABC”, in the question card is shows up as “___,” and on the answer card, it shows up as “ABC” again.

Anki uses HTML tags (actually XML) to mark Cloze fields. <c1> for starting the first Cloze field, and </c1> to end the first Cloze field. So it makes it really easy to turn any raw text into a Cloze card without using the editor. Just take your sentence, add the tags, and import it as a Cloze-type card.

If I need to remember, “Standard ABC has a transfer rate of XXX MB/sec,” I would set “ABC” as Cloze field 1, and “XXX” as Cloze field 2. That way, I would get two different question cards.

The formatting would look like this:

Standard <c1>ABC</c1> has a transfer rate of <c2>XXX</c2> MB/sec.

And just that would generate two cards.

One like this:

Front:”Standard ___ has a transfer rate of XXX MB/sec.”
Back: ABC

And another like this:

Front:”Standard ABC has a transfer rate of ___ MB/sec.”
Back: XXX

That forces me to think about the right answer, and try to remember it.

I find it’s best to do it one fact at a time. A card like this:

“Standard ___ has a transfer rate of ___ MB/sec,”

is more confusing than helpful. I could put in any combination of standards and data rates, and be right and wrong at the same time.

For remembering general concepts, and keeping things straight like Windows licensing options, interface data speeds, and graphics card standard resolutions, Cloze Deletion cards are really hard to beat. While I’ll start to remember the multiple choice answers over time, I’m forced to think about the answer for every Cloze card I get, because the answers aren’t pre-chewed for me.

One final trick: if you have a Logitech gaming keyboard with a bunch of programmable G-keys, you can program them to add the Cloze tags (as well as do other things) in the plain text editor of your choice. That saved me a lot of time, too! I had a whole set of G-keys programmed with Cloze tags for up to four facts.

Is all of this tedious? Hell yeah!

But is it effective? OMG yes.

And it’s cheaper than going to one of those schools that charge an arm and a leg to give you the same info you could get yourself.

Dead-tree vs. E-Books

The only way to get the data in quickly from paper books is with a cheap scanner and some good OCR software. There’s a ton of OCR software out there, and some of it is even free. I’ve done scanning and OCR for some of my Japanese test prep. It’s not fun, but it’s doable. It just adds a lot of unnecessary time. (But it’s still faster than typing.) has a good list of OCR software alternatives. Some are even free/open source.

If you have a paper book by one of the O’Reilly publishers, you can register it on their website, and you may be eligible for a $5 e-book upgrade. Not all publishers go with this, but some do. It’s worth it to check it out. That could save you a ton of time.

Otherwise, I’d consider the money on paper books “lost,” and go buy digital editions I can work with more easily. Wrestling books and scanning every page I need is a waste of time I could use studying.

I prefer DRM-free books, but some of the best books are Kindle-only. So I bought whatever I felt was the best for me.

I only bought paper books if they came with a PDF version, or some other electronic version of the book. One of the Network+ books is like that. It uses some weird Adobe secure PDF thing that’s a pain in the butt to install, and even less fun to work with. My copy/paste is limited by DRM, for “reasons.” I can always use Greenshot in a pinch, but I don’t enjoy going that route.

It’s a big long of a reply, but I hope it helps. Any questions, just put them in the comments.

Great Support

 Technology  Comments Off on Great Support
Jan 252014

I love it when I get great service and support. I love telling stories of, “Hey, this company is really responsive!”

This is one of those stories!

Thursday night, my CPU fan started making a noise I can only describe as “wailing like a banshee,” which is what a bad bearing sounds like.

I emailed support at Arctic Cooling, who made the CPU cooler I use, and in 3 minutes, I had a reply. I just had to give them my street address, and they’d send out a new fan.

The replacement showed up today. Nice. I’ll have to swap out the fan as soon as I can get a chance to pop the computer open.

Also, my extension cable showed up for the Intuos Pro tablet. Fits like a glove. Yay.

More Coursera Fun

 Education, Music, Photography, Technology  Comments Off on More Coursera Fun
Jan 202014

Prof. Donald Hornstein is a fun lecturer to listen to. I highly recommend his new Coursera class on Environmental Law. If you have any interest at all in the environment or in law, take it. (Even for you lawyers out there– it’s a fun refresher.)

I take my CLE every year at the UNC Festival of Legal Learning, and every year, I look forward to Don Hornstein’s lectures. They’re not just entertaining, they’re also fascinating. He takes a subject that at times can be really dry and breathes life into it.

I also signed up for a class called “Write Like Mozart.” It started a few weeks ago, so I’m already behind. I’m going to have to hustle to catch up, but there’s some really interesting stuff going on there. I’d like to learn more about 18th century voice leading!

Is Paddy the Coolest Thing Ever???

I was sitting here, surrounded by my MIDI gear, when I had a thought that other people have already had. “What if I could use this stuff to edit my photos in Lightroom? Wouldn’t it be a heck of a lot faster?”

The answer is yes, so long as Lightroom doesn’t break the plugin you’re using.

Paddy is a program developed as donation-ware, that lets you use just about any MIDI controller to control the sliders in Lightroom to develop photos. If you’ve used Lightroom for any appreciable length of time, you know that fiddling with the mouse to change levels for all of Lightroom’s sliders is finicky business. Sometimes the sliders misbehave, sometimes the mouse misbehaves, either way, it’s tedious.

What Paddy does is take that tedious, repetitive mouse clicking, and if you have an old MIDI mixer with some motorized faders, you can zoom through editing photos in a snap. The faders will automatically go to the positions of the current photo in Lightroom, and you can just mess around with them as you please. I love the idea of this kind of tactile feedback, as well as the idea of mixing MIDI and photo developing.

This is one of those things I need to put on the “Come back to this in a few months” pile and see how the software is progressing.

All-in Ableton, Reaktor, New Graphics Tablet

 Art, Music, Technology  Comments Off on All-in Ableton, Reaktor, New Graphics Tablet
Jan 152014

After spending some time getting used to Live, I had a tough decision to make: Standard or Suite? The 20% off sale was going to end soon, and as much as I like the Intro version of Live, it’s not enough for what I want to do. The difference between upgrades wasn’t much. Max 4 Live is part of what pushed me over into getting the Suite. There are other reasons, too.

Downloading everything took 5 hours or so. My Internet connection isn’t the greatest in the world.


A lot of what I was doing while I was downloading/installing Live was learning how to program in Reaktor. There are a lot of really good tutorials out there on building synthesizers in Reaktor. It’s pretty fascinating stuff. I found a really good five part tutorial here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five.

Once I’m done getting comfortable in Live, I’ll start learning Max, too. That also looks really interesting.

My Poor Dead Graphics Tablet

After 12 years of faithful service, my ancient Wacom Intuos 2 graphics tablet has bit the dust. I replaced it with an Intuos Pro, the medium sized one. I was tempted to get the large, but the medium is about the same size as my old one.

I love the wireless connectivity. That’s really cool. But I read a lot of horror stories about the wonky USB solder connection, so I took out $3 of insurance on eBay, and bought a short USB connector cable that will connect to the troublesome port. I can just tape the cable down to the side of the tablet, and connect the charging cable to the short cable. That way, I won’t put too much stress on that port by plugging/unplugging the USB cable to recharge it.

You can get the small connecting cable here.

I also like the buttons, especially the way you can lock the tablet down to one monitor or another, which is handy for keeping perspectives right. (The tablet to monitor ratio thing. It can get too weird otherwise if you’re using two monitors.) My favorite button is the one that lets me use the control wheel to change brush sizes on the fly. That’s invaluable.

I’m not so fond of the feel of the surface of the Intuos. It feels… weird. I prefer the feel of my old Intuos 2 better. I’ll get used to it.

Push or “What Happened to Today?”

 DIY, Music, Technology  Comments Off on Push or “What Happened to Today?”
Jan 102014

I went with Ableton Push. I saw countless videos, read a lot of stuff on all kinds of forums, read all the marketing info, and in the end, I decided on Push over Maschine, mainly because 64 > 16. Well, not just that, but the scale mode in Push really excites me.

Maschine looks like something I may get down the road, especially because it’s really good at tweaking Native Instruments’ Komplete programs, and it has a really nice patch browser.

My Push showed up today, so I installed Live, started messing with Push and Live, and subsequently lost track of several hours just messing around with the scale mode in Push using a plain piano patch.

Oh, about Ableton Live: that’s a nice piece of software there. I had a lot of fun messing with it, too. I like how the tutorials are merged in with the software from the get-go. It made me feel like I could make music right from the start, or just perform with it. Everything feels easy.

I’m still trying to decipher everything about Live and Push, and that’s going to take a while, because I have a ton of other things to do, but I’m excited.

Also, my music composition class starts up again tomorrow. I need to start getting back into composer mode, and get rid of the holiday-induced G.A.S.

The monitor stand is progressing, too. I went and touched up some of the areas with wood filler in them, and sanded them down. I’ll start spray painting the whole thing black this weekend. Primer first, then black.

Reason Book and Other Stuff

 Education, Music, Technology  Comments Off on Reason Book and Other Stuff
Jan 052014

I’m starting to finally feel better. Well, except for the coughing that comes out of nowhere. I’ve heard that this cold takes a while to get over. Yay.

My Reason book showed up today. It’s huge! The type is kind of small, but the way it’s laid out, if it was published traditionally, this would easily go over 1000 pages. As it is, it comes in at around 356 pages or so. Lulu did a great job binding it, and color really makes a big difference– there are a lot of illustrations, and each one is sharp.

I haven’t had time to read the whole book yet (I just got it!), but I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with it.

Push or Maschine? Argh!

I’m still looking a lot at Push and Maschine as well. I’m leaning heavily towards getting one of them to speed things up. Since I’m not only using Reason, but also VSTs, I’m looking for something that will improve my workflow. I’m also looking for something that will help me come up with wild and crazy ideas.

Maschine has some nice features. It integrates really well with Komplete, and has an awesome preview method. But it looks like it’s geared more towards sampling, and I’m not really into that. I’m more into straight composition and using instruments, in which case Push looks much more attractive.

Push supports Live and Live Suite instruments natively, but Komplete and other third party VSTs don’t have that kind of deep support. I understand why. There’s also a third party solution that lets Push owners tweak the heck out of it so it’ll work better with third party VSTs and other DAWs as well.

I’m very glad that Ableton didn’t turn Push into a black box you can’t tinker with. I think it’s good that they welcome third party software. If anything, it should help sales.

I’d say the only bit I’m not looking forward to is configuring everything. Whoa. I sound like I’ve bought it already. I’m still thinking. It’s a lot of money.

You Komplete Me

 Music, Photography, Technology  Comments Off on You Komplete Me
Dec 052013

Komplete Ultimate showed up today. It comes on a shiny little hard drive, and the install takes about an hour or two. I installed the full version of Kontakt first, then registered it, then installed the Komplete Ultimate cross-grade, and everything went just fine. I’m excited to get more into it. All of it. There’s a lot of it!

I’ve been looking at some of the other deals out there. One VST I picked up was SynthMaster, because it sounds great, and it was on sale for $49. I really like the sounds it makes. If you pay more, you can get more patches. In the case of SynthMaster, some great sound designers have made some really amazing patches, so I picked up a few to go with it.

I also picked up Chromaphone by AAS, because I’ve been looking for a good percussion modeling VST. I realize that Chromaphone does more than that, and, in fact, it does a lot of really wild and interesting things, too.

The last thing I picked up was a second monitor, because photo editing with just one monitor drives me nuts. Also, working in Reason with only one monitor also drives me nuts. I like having the sequencer/mixer in one window, and the rack in another. I found a Dell monitor on sale at Amazon, but it showed up with a bunch of dead pixels, so I sent it back. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get another one, so I had to spend a little more to get an Asus monitor.

Now that I have two monitors, though, I realize that I need to do something about my desk.

It’s always something, huh?

Oh, my new dryer showed up yesterday. It dries clothes beautifully, and it was cheap. Did mention it was cheap?

Oct 212013

Man, that was nerve-wracking.

Part two of the A+ exam was trickier than I thought it would be. I know a lot of this stuff just because I’ve been messing around with computers all my life. I’ve built every computer I’ve used for the last 20 years. (Except for laptops.)

But if you ask me about cables, and numbers, and standards, my eyes (until now) would glaze over.

Now I know which version of Windows XP you really need. Or Vista. Or 7. (Yeah, that part was kind of weird, if you ask me.)

I also have a bunch of handy new skills in basic network troubleshooting, and dealing with Windows’ general random bugginess.

Finally, I have a new way of approaching problems that’s really useful.

I highly recommend getting as many A+ books as you can, and dumping them into Anki, then dump the questions into Anki, and review the bejeezus out of them.

Now on to N1 prep, and Career Forum prep.

A+ Part One: Pass!

 Education, Japanese Language, Technology  Comments Off on A+ Part One: Pass!
Oct 112013

So far, so good. I passed the first A+ test. It was harder than I thought it would be. I’m glad I had 3 different prep books to drill questions out of. I must have taken about 10 or so practice tests. I nailed this one.

Now my sister and nephew are coming tonight for the weekend, so I need to get the house ready. And I’ll be taking part two of the A+ on the 21st.

And of course there’s still the N1 looming over me. I’m not sure what to do about that. Panic? Nah. I don’t have time for that.

Miku In The House // New Computer // Glass Coming to the RTP

 Japan, Music, Technology  Comments Off on Miku In The House // New Computer // Glass Coming to the RTP
Oct 022013

So the Vocaloid software showed up yesterday from Tenso. It came in great shape. The install went smoothly, and everything runs fine.

Today I upgraded to Cubase 7.0 full version to get more flexibility with making music. Artist is fine, but the upgrade was cheap.

New Computer Up and Running!

Oh yeah, the software was all installed on my new desktop, which gets a 7.8/7.9 on the Windows performance index. That makes me happy, but also wishing I could get that last 0.1 out of it.

The SSD makes booting a dream. I go from BIOS screen to login in about 10 seconds. Maybe 15.

I tried to create a custom install for Win 7 using a streamlined set of drivers, apps, etc., but I found I was spending more time on getting a perfect slipstream than it would have taken me to just install everything.

I headed to the Black Viper’s website for info on de-cluttering my registry and services, and I also followed the advice in this post about getting the most out of my SSD in Win 7.

The only major pain in the butt was deregistering a lot of my software and uninstalling it from the old system. I wish there was an easier way to handle licensing. The Cubase USB dongle is useful, but if you lose it, you’re kind of screwed. I like what Adobe does with Lightroom: they trust the users not to abuse the number of licenses. Besides, it’s not like you can run more than one instance at a time, anyway.

I really like the new Vocaloid de-authorizing tool from Yamaha. That worked out really well. Uninstalling/reinstalling was a snap.


There’s going to be a Google Glass event in Durham this Saturday, too. I RSVP’ed ASAP. I want to see Glass, and see if it’s going to be a game-changer or not. It’ll probably be a zoo there.

Getting Stuff Done Music

 Japan, Music, Technology  Comments Off on Getting Stuff Done Music
Sep 272013

Who hasn’t seen the Lifehacker article about coffee shop background noise being good for productivity yet? Just about everyone has, or so it seems, anyway.

In that vein, I have been looking for some background noise to have going so that I would stay awake and productive without having to drink 8 cups of coffee.

I found a website called SoundDrown where you can listen to a recorded coffee shop loop over and over. It was okay, but not quite interesting enough for me.

I’m still looking for something suitably interesting. For now, I’m going to stick with Music For Programming, but I’ve listened to their mixes so many times I’ve lost count. They are awesome “Getting Stuff Done” mixes, though.

If I fire up International Departures, I’ll just stop working all together.

Miku’s Coming…

I got notified by Tenso yesterday that my Vocaloid 3 bundle has shown up at their offices. Great.

I had to provide proof of my US address, and that turned out to be a slight pain in the neck, because I forgot that my passport doesn’t have my address on it. That’s what I get for doing this stuff at 6 a.m. with no coffee in me yet.

I heard back from them at around midnight telling me that I needed to send something better, and I sent them a scan of my driver’s license. I just heard back this morning that everything is A-OK, so I’m looking forward to getting my stuff from them sometime next week.

The fees from Tenso are surprisingly low. The total cost of everything is 1990 yen, and that’s pretty cheap for getting something express mailed from Japan. That includes about 980 yen in handling fees, but to be fair, if I asked a friend to send stuff on for me, I would buy that friend a beer, anyway, and I doubt that that friend could get such a good deal on shipping.

If the package arrives in good shape, I’ll probably start using them more often, because Amazon is crazy expensive for shipping. Also, I can buy used books if I have them shipped inside Japan and save more money that way.

Building a New Computer

Finally, my old computer is dying a horrible, slow death from overheating too much. I keep getting BSODs due to overheating, and I have finally reached the “Screw it” point where I picked out some parts for a new rig. This time I’m going for an SSD main hard drive to run Win7 and all of my programs from, an Intel i7-4770 CPU, 16GB of RAM (for now), and a nice white Corsair case. For the mobo, I’m going with one of the ASUS TUF motherboards, to see how it does with dust, and an Arctic CPU cooler.

My old case was a ThermalTake LanParty, and as a mATX form factor case, it was great for small gaming rigs that could be really portable. But as a small form factor case, taking it apart and putting it back together was murder on my fingers. Also, graphics cards, HDDs, and PSUs all had to fit together like a puzzle, and the cabling would always get in the way.

And of course having all the parts on top of each other killed the airflow and heat dissipation. I’m kind of surprised it lasted as long as it did.

I’ll have to put it all together this weekend and get it up and running.

They Got the Computer Store, Too!

 Japan, Japanese Language, Technology  Comments Off on They Got the Computer Store, Too!
Nov 092011

We have to submit our resumes for our JBPP class tomorrow, so I need a USB drive. I headed to the computer store to pick one up.

First I stopped at Family Mart, because I was out of food. (Except for rice. I have plenty of rice.) Anyway, then I went to the computer store. As I approached the door, one of the guys who worked there regretted to inform me that the store was closed, because it’s moving.

Ugh. Again? First the bicycle store, now the computer store, too? It’ll probably be a pile of rubble in 4 days.

So I stood in the parking lot and had a think. Where is the best place to find a cheap USB drive? I decided to go to the mall and try Aeon, and lucked out. I found a cheap USB drive for 898 yen. All it has to do is last for a couple of days, to be honest. Then I saw the big sale on the Frixion stuff. Score!

I’ve already burned through one of the ink cartridges in my blue Frixion pen. Aeon had them for 10% off, so I stocked up.

I browsed the book store again, and saw some really cool kanji books, but they’re kind of expensive. Maybe later. They look like kanji kentei prep books. (But really awesome prep books.) Downside: they’re 1000 yen a piece. A little pricey. Yeah, I said the USB drive was cheap at 898, but I was only buying one of those.

I also looked at the Minna no Nihongo books with lustful eyes, because we keep running into stuff from that in class. It’s tempting, but expensive. Maybe I’ll check Book-Off this weekend and see if I can find a used copy of MNN.

I stopped by Subway on the way out, then headed home.

It’s The End of the World. Or It’s Just Wednesday and We Feel Like It.

When I got back, something annoying happened. One thing that kind of irks me about living here is that I’ll randomly hear warning sirens– the same kind that you can hear on the tsunami videos– and I can’t tell if it’s police, fire, ambulance, or just Impending Doom. I heard them again this evening in my apartment, and quickly flipped on NHK, just to make sure I didn’t have to duck, cover, and kiss my butt goodbye. (You never know.)

Of course, as I flipped it on, they were showing a news show about how the tsunami warnings weren’t adequate enough, and in some places, told people that a 3m tsunami wave was coming, when in reality a 10m wave was coming, so people who should have fled, didn’t, and died as a result.

It was interesting, but I never could figure out what those sirens were about.

But I’m glad that they’re examining the whole tsunami warning system.

The discussion on the program about how to convey urgency to people was interesteig. Telling people 非難せよ (ひなんせよ hinanseyo “evacuate!”) instead of 非難してください (ひんしてください hinanshite kudasai “please evacuate”) conveys the proper urgency when a massive wall of water is about to obliterate everything. People may hesitate when they hear a more polite request to “please evactuate” (非難してください) versus the more urgent and less formal “evacuate!” or “get out now!” (非難せよ!)

An Unfortunate Episode in my Life? How About an Exam That Keeps Me From Going to Kyoto?

In other news, it looks like no Kyoto trip this week. Next Thursday we have a conversation test and a composition test. We already have our themes to write about– “An unfortunate episode in my life.” Fun.

There’s no way I’ll be able to swan off to Kyoto for a weekend with that hanging over my head. Nagoya, maybe. But Kyoto? No way.

JBPP is really starting to pay off. All of the little lessons we’re learning are starting to accumulate, albeit slowly, in my brain. I realize I’ll probably have to go over all of this again by myself when I go home, but the info is amazingly useful.

We went over e-mails again today, and while it was difficult, I think I’m slowly starting to get the hang of it. Tonight, I have to finish writing my resume in Japanese. Strangely enough, I’m not too stressed about it. It’s easier than doing it in English, because everyone uses the same general form.

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