August 1, 2005

Divergence

August 1, 2005 - Categories: japanese

Knowing how I wanted to practice my Japanese, Mark Chignell told me
about a couple of Japanese-related events this weekend. (Isn’t it nice
to have a research supervisor who keeps track of your extracurricular
interests?)

The first event was a language exchange session held last Saturday, at
which I ran into no other than Baryon Posadas. Come to think of it, I
shouldn’t have been that surprised. Of course he’d be at a
Japanese-language event.

Everyone was heading off to Starbucks to chat over coffee. I wanted to
ask how he had been, but I needed to go to Clarkson Station to meet
Tita Sol. We tried to work out some other time to meet, but he had
promised to help someone move and he needed to find an apartment, and
a lot of other things. Technically, I think I’m supposed to e-mail him
if I want to meet him for coffee (or hot chocolate), but now that I
think about it, I don’t have much to chat with him about. Except
perhaps for general settling-in questions, like where’s a good place
to open a bank account or get a credit card, and I already sorta know
the answers to those questions.

Anyway, I went to the barbecue today because it meant a free lunch. I
didn’t get to practice my Japanese, though, as I didn’t feel up to
making small talk in a foreign language—not when there was a
perfectly good conversation to have with Mark about research plans and
what I should do while he’s off in Japan. (Yes, we were talking about
work. On a Sunday! During a long weekend!)

During a lull in the conversation, we wandered around in search for
non-MSG chips. Baryon was there at the table with the unflavored
chips, so I briefly introduced them to each other. Mark got drawn into
a conversation with a bunch of Japanese girls, so I was left on my
own. I asked them if I could sit there. I sat there for maybe a
minutes, idly munching on chips. Got bored, found it difficult to
break into a clique, eventually thought of a question to ask Mark and
left the table without a word.

Anyway, the entire thing prompted a reflection on divergence. I’d
borrowed a number of books from him before (speculative fiction,
mainly), and that was our common interest. Now my reading tastes have
changed (non-fiction and children’s lit) and our worlds are really
very different now.

Mark’s a pretty good judge of character, and he picked up on the
differences too. <laugh> In fact, he thought Baryon was strange.
I shrugged and said, “He’s from humanities.” (Nothing against the
humanities, of course. Hi Marcelle!)

I think that energy makes a big difference to me. Mark’s a positive,
high-energy kind of person, which is one of the reasons why I get
along with him very well. Baryon and a number of other people I know
don’t show that kind of energy often. They’re more reserved and
detached.

If you take a look at the people I love hanging out with (Hiya, Just
Geeks League! ;) ), they’ve all got positive energy. One of the things
I like about chatting with Dominique is the way his smile comes
through so well in his voice, and you know his face shows it too! Even
Sean’s deep and serious voice hides playfulness and wit. (You should
watch his Hulk impression… It’s hilarious!) Even though they have
problems like everyone else, their upbeat personalities make the tough
times easier to weather.

I don’t know if Baryon’s like that, and I somewhat remember that he
laughs and joke about some things. Although it would be nice to pick
his brains about stuff I need to know as an international student in
Toronto, I think it would be a fair bit of work to get to the point
where conversation’s comfortable. I’ll probably focus on developing
new contacts instead, at least for now.

もうすぐみんなが自分のコンピュータを持つだろう。 Everyone will have his own computer before long.

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Lessons learned from the past week

August 1, 2005 - Categories: Uncategorized

今日ほとんどの子供が持っているビデオゲーム機でさえコンピュータである。 Even videogame machines owned by most children today are computers.

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Spending plan

August 1, 2005 - Categories: finance

Whether you call it a budget or a spending plan, an idea of how much
you can spend on what each month is a remarkably liberating thing.
After you’ve put aside money for savings and important expenses such as

I keep my monthly spending plan on a ruled 3×5 index card labeled
“Budget for August 2005.” I divide the card into three columns:
category, estimate, and remaining budget. At the beginning of each
month, I write down the categories and estimates in ink, and the
remaining budget in pencil. Throughout the month, I’ll regularly
update the remaining budget entries. If I want to spend more for
something, I can reduce the budget of another category.

Let’s see how well that system works this month!

その代わりに、彼は自分のコンピュータを制御しているスイッチを操作した。 Instead, he worked a switch that controlled his computer.

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Home economics

August 1, 2005 - Categories: life

I wish I paid more attention in my home economics class. I have an
excuse, though. I was 10 years old at the time! Now that I’m 21 and
puzzled by everything from bike grease stains to the proper storage of
food, I’m making up for my lack of common sense by buying thick,
expensive books talking about stuff I really should have learned
during my education.

Over the past two weeks, I have come to firmly believe that home
economics should be taught throughout high school and college. It
would have been a lot more useful than my social studies or history
classes. (Indeed, a lot more useful than my computing classes…) What
if arithmetic was taught in the context of budgets? What if critical
thinking was tested through on-the-fly recipe substitutions? What if
learning about life was an essential part of the curriculum?

I’m not just talking about exclusive girls’ schools, mind you, but
across-the-board education for everyone. I think the world would be a
lot more peaceful if people learned how to manage household disputes
and a lot more financially stable if they learned how to balance a
checkbook or make a budget. I know _I_ would feel a lot better
learning about these things systematically instead of figuring things
out as I go along.

Bring back the lessons on washing clothes and folding fitted sheets,
planning menus and shopping for groceries. It may be old hat to you,
but some of us here are figuring things out for the first time!

コンピューターは人間の多くの時間と手間を省いてくれる。 Computers can save us a lot of time and trouble.

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