20 September 2017 @ 12:27 am
11 days left until we leave. went to stockholm, picked up the VISAs. the two embassy guys we met were suuper nice; seems like the mean/grumpy guys actually work in another part of the building. wife's sisters are visiting, i have to empty my phone and give it to them today or tomorrow.

in stockholm when we were walking there were two fat old ladies going in the opposite direction, the one with the bright pink hat stopped with a big smile and said "good day! good day, misses! and good day, mister! this is the mister, right?" and we said "yes" and she said good day again and then we said "thanks, good day" and she left. her friend was silent the whole time.

"good day" is really archaic in swedish, no one says it anymore, my wife was super shocked to hear it. and i don't really know why the lady assumed we were married (i mean, we ARE, but literally every time i get on the bus the drivers assume i'm under 18 years old so??). afterwards my wife said "what's wrong with swedes? it's like that old lady had been locked up in her basement for 50 years and only came out for the first time today or something".

bought a suitcase for my wife (neon pink). she's finally started to get a little excited about going to japan, NOT because "it's japan" but because she's actually realizing that we're going to, if nothing else, at least be out of this house. her complaints about her parents / sisters have been increasing by the day, which i take as a sign that she's getting more and more impatient about us leaving.

some stuff with the parents does seem like it's getting worse, ex. her dad just SMELLS really really bad, every time he comes out of the bathroom it's like someone died in there AND the smell sticks to not only him but to YOU and the ROOM. my wife describes it as him being a "walking corpse". definitely wasn't this bad a year ago. also you can tell that his memory problems are reaching his face now; tonight when he talked to me, throughout the whole time he LOOKED completely lost and confused; even just a couple months ago he'd TALK confused but not LOOK confused.

i've also found out that some stuff in japan is cheaper than i originally thought, ex. someone just told me they bought 8 volumes of (brand-new-looking) used manga for 1,000 yen which is like... $1 USD per book i guess. i know it's super easy to spend all your money away in japan but wow, i'll really have to watch out!!

in "japanese-language" news, i've started watching dramas with japanese subtitles instead of just anime. everyone online says that dramas have "more realistic talking than anime" and uh..... no. not at all. not modern anime, anyway.
17 September 2017 @ 07:01 pm
ALL my belongings fit into ONE (medium-sized) suitcase!! books, clothes, electronics, everything. my backpack will be for food/entertainment for the plane trip and sensitive stuff like my laptop and important papers, but i could actually fit those things into the suitcase too if i wanted. i'll just have to double-check that i won't be over the weight limit. i wasn't actually aiming for this when i was cleaning (among other things you can actually bring 2 checked bags), it just turned out that way.

it seems like switching from a student/"dependant" VISA to a work VISA is super easy, but getting a work VISA (or any VISA at all really) from scratch is really difficult; so as long as i can still go to all my classes schedule-wise it won't actually be a problem to switch to a work VISA partway through my exchange (which is what i was worried about — in some countries you have to completely leave the country, wait some months and come back). my japanese friend said now is the best time to get full-time jobs in japan since "everyone needs people", and if no normal place will hire me then to try at random American companies.

still have to:
• repair the old Mac i'm taking with me; set it up with programs etc
• remove files from all other comps/phones & put them on the old mac
• sell/send off some old books
• sew slippers and mittens for myself (i have some secondhand leather pants + sheep skin bits for this exact purpose), then toss all the rest of my fabric

i think that's about it for me. my wife still has a bunch to go through but we managed to get through 3 boxes of her stuff today, so we're getting there... she said she's actually been having nightmares about having too much stuff / people randomly giving her tons of extra stuff so yeah, let's clean!!!

updated the page about how my 3-year japanese degree is; i really need to fix up this site a little in general:

i've started re-reading the stories we read in class last semester; i can actually "understand" them now, like all the details, but back then i missed what feels like the majority of the plots except for the easiest story. part of it was how stressed i was during class time, but the other part was just my japanese level. no idea why we were giving such hard stuff to read, it should've been for people a semester or two after us! right now i'm probably two semesters ahead of the basic class expectations.

anime-wise, i'm focusing on jojo's bizarre adventures starting from yesterday because it really has a lot of words i don't know while still overall being easy to understand (as in, there are some series where due to the context, pacing, billions of characters etc even if you DO know the words you're still confused; jojo isn't really like that). read another completely random yaoi manga volume last night and i knew like 99% of everything in it, that's the second time that's happened now and it feels pretty great. if i get depressed about not being able to read novels or something i'll always be able to grab a manga.
15 September 2017 @ 04:24 pm
16 days until we leave for japan. VISA guys haven't called yet. bought a (cheap, teal) suitcase; we'll get a second (pink) one if/when we need it. you should always get obnoxiously-coloured luggage containers so you can easily pick them out / people can pick YOU out from the crowd; just a ribbon doesn't work.

been messing with the hand-held sewing machine some more. i've learned a few more things:
• if you sew too close to the edge of your fabric, it won't sew.
• cheap thread will break a ton
• it can use thicker thread; thread type doesn't matter as long as you can get it through the needle.
• turning IS possible; how accurate you can turn, i haven't tested yet
• it CAN sew leather but figuring out the tension for it is too much of a pain in the butt, also you might have to manually move it to the next stitch with your hand because the feet aren't THAT good and the leather doesn't want to self-move. that or it was the weird leather i tried (it had a lining fabric and stuff so i was technically sewing 4 layers).
• technically you should be adjusting the tension or something when you sew over seams (=4 or 6 layers of fabric instead of 2) but you can manually pull the fabric until you're over the seam instead and it'll turn out fine.

as for my sock project in general.... sewing a ton of diamonds together is NOT what i'm meant for, and i'm pretty sure i miscounted and only actually have enough "diamond fabric" for one sock. it's just a test, and i was planning on getting a real tabi sewing pattern when in japan anyway, so it's alright. i'm pretty sure patchwork is why people join sewing circles: you work on my project for a bit and i'll work on yours, PLEASE SEW THESE DIAMONDS FOR ME I'M GOING CRAZY.

finished watching Chobits with my wife, it was just as disappointing as i remembered it but she'd never seen the ending so that's why we watched it. have like 6 eps of From the New World left, which is really killing me because it's too difficult AND is more boring than i remembered. then i've got maybe 15 left of Death Note, and this one nonfiction book from the library i need to read. i probably can't finish another season of any high-level series before i go to japan (where i most likely won't be watching ANY anime unless i go to a friend's house or movie theatre).

i'm really frustrated with my japanese level again... i just feel like i "should" be able to understand more by now. i don't spend 12 hours a day studying or anything so it's to be expected, but sigh. most of my japanese comes from class + anime and manga, so something like a review blog or newspaper article still feels like another world even if i do glance at them on occasion...
14 September 2017 @ 10:08 am
i have some scrap fabric i want to mess with before i have to toss it and leave for japan. IN japan, i want to MAKE stuff like traditional socks (tabi), get secondhand kimono and fix/wear them etc. keep in mind i haven't sewn in like 10 years and was never all that good... anyway, all our fabric is pretty ugly and i had a thought. you know quilting? they make shapes with fabric? when you lack japanese fabric you can make fabric shapes in the traditional japanese style instead. google "sashiko" or "刺し子 柄" (sashiko pattern) and you'll get the idea.

the difficulty is finding the "quilt block" names that match the japanese patterns! i don't know anything about quilting (i've watched my grandma make one... once) so i'm jumping into this blind. the basic japanese patterns are:

1. mountains (= "chevron falls"?)

2. flowers 1 (= "pickle dish"?)

3. flowers 2

4. plus-signs 1 + 2 (= "plus signs")

5. pound-signs (= "igeta, hashtag"), diamonds (= "slanted diamonds"), fish scales/shells/scallops (= "clam shells")

6. these rectangles

7. arrow-tails

8. squares (= "nine patch")

9. hexagons (= "simple hexagons")

10. i haven't found it in sashiko yet but another common pattern is "clouds" and this quilter's block looks kinda like it:

so the plan is, find out the quilter's names for all of these, make some, then use that fabric to make socks.
13 September 2017 @ 02:54 pm
tried watching another documentary in japanese... it was much easier to understand than the one about atomic missiles & stuff in okinawa (also had more english), i got about 80%.

in the 70′s some japanese guys went to the USA to track down american soldiers/their families who had to do with hiroshima. i didn’t know this — america didn’t teach it to me in school — but the bomb also killed a lot of american soldiers (there was a POV camp there etc) whether directly or from radiation sickness afterwards. since no one was told about the radiation or real nature of the bomb, american doctors had no clue how to treat the patients, only the japanese ones really had any clue. also america withheld info even just about the fact that certain american soldiers had died for decades; so the guys' parents didn't even know there was proof that they were dead. info that these japanese guys were able to get easily. among other things, it makes you wonder what america was trying to cover up.

a few things really struck me about this.
1. in the 70's they had no translator, it was simply the TV station guy who went there to the USA with his own (decent) English to interview everyone; in the 90's they hired a Japanese lady translator when in Japan; "last year" when Obama came to Japan, his official Japanese translator was a huge, American, scary-looking "military white guy" with a buzzcut. i was like... what? Obama has something against hiring Japanese people?! it looked like something out of a cult.

2. japanese people act exactly like swedes. i know i keep saying this, but they even SAY THE EXACT SAME THINGS AS SWEDES. americans don't make a WWII documentary showing the side of and sympathizing with the "enemy", but japan does (and so does sweden)! japanese people who were literally born and raised in hiroshima and study the bombing as their main profession sit there going "no matter what your home country, the pain of losing your child is the same" etc. americans don't do this. not modern americans, anyway.
12 September 2017 @ 08:22 pm

it sewed through 6 layers of jeans, 4 layers of cotton T-shirt (with print on it), and I haven't tested anything heavier yet. it actually seemed like it worked a lot better on thicker fabric but that just might be me not knowing how to mess with the tension. it's really tiny and easy to hold and works well with just one hand (and i'm not a strong guy!!). it's pretty quiet, about as loud as a stapler. if the "bobbin thread" becomes a tangled nest it's EXTREMELY easy to get rid of, WAY easier than on a real machine. the "feeders" that hold the fabric stuck to the pressure foot and move it forward with each stitch work really well. it was also a lot easier to thread than a normal machine for me, probably since you can get your face and hands so much closer to this one.

so far all the problems are just "user error": if the tension is wrong it doesn't sew at all (the stitches don't move forward) or they bunch up. if you accidentally cut both threads underneath the pressure foot instead of just the furthest-back one, all your sewing will come loose. if you don't press down all the way it'll skip a stitch (it's possible this also happens sometimes when the tension is wrong). if you don't hold the fabric straight, your stitches won't be straight; if you don't hold it with an even pressure, your stitches won't all be the same length. i tried oiling the machine and it didn't seem to help anything. if you want to replace the needle you need a screwdriver.

due to how you hold the fabric (there must be a way to fix this —get a fabric-holder + fasten the machine to the tabletop?) the stitches LOOK like hand-sewing; but they're extremely strong. i pulled with all my might and they didn't rip or loosen. there's no real way of adjusting the stitch length (all you can do is pull at the fabric to manually draw it through faster or slower) and your stitches are going to be visible. i'm going to try and research/test tension and see if i can't figure out something about the visible stitches.

anyway, for everything where you don't care if the stitches are visible, or if you're going to use another method to hide the stitches later or something, it seems like it'd work great after you figure out what tension you need. for some garments (ex. kimono) it's actually better to have "hand-sewing" because the end garment is more flexible compared to one done with perfect machine sewing, or so i've heard.
12 September 2017 @ 06:03 am
i keep wondering if i should switch to japanese with the international department staff at my exchange school, NOT because my japanese is that great but because their english also isn't all that great. it's good, really good for a japanese person, but they're making a lot of comprehension mistakes even though i'm doing my best to write simply.

for example, now i said i found a friend who will give me beds for the year, so i want to know the schedule for our first day in japan so i can tell my friend when i'll be at the apartment and can drop off the beds. and she replied that "the apartments are already furnished with beds, what you need to buy is futon, blankets, pillows, pillowcases..." and didn't say a word about the schedule. so now i had to reply explaining that my friend is going to give me futons, blankets and pillows at least. from this i also learned that when a japanese person says "bed" they actually mean "bedframe", but y'know, i don't even want a bedframe. i want to be like a "real japanese person", sleep on the floor on my futon and roll it up every morning to save space...

tried watching this documentary (about the USA keeping nuclear bombs/missiles in okinawa without telling the local people etc):

it was too difficult, especially without japanese subs. i understood the gist of it thanks to pictures, a lot of english and some sentences that were written out on the page, but it was basically "nuclear" "hydrogen bomb" "missile" "keep this info a secret to all outside parties" and the rest i didn't get when it came to all the actual military stuff. i can barely recognize the word "prezident". i really have to watch some political/military anime...

19 days left until japan. i have like 250 screencapped example sentences i still have to put up on the learning_japanese comm before i can hand my phone over to my wife's sisters... sold one broken computer, still need to put up my textbooks (Tobira + some manga) from last semester up for sale since my ex-classmate doesn't want them (which also means she doesn't intend on continuing her japanese studies anytime soon i guess). i don't actually have contact with ANY ex-classmates who seriously plan on continuing their japanese studies, the one guy who claims he is failed the final exam the first time around and isn't studying in summer either so it's clear he's going to fail the next semester too. for some reason i always make friends with the drop-outs in every language class i end up taking, i guess it's because i like teaching people and those are the people to teach....
11 September 2017 @ 11:24 am
so there's this esperanto-teaching japanese yuri dating sim game that came out like last month... and people are already writing fanfic for it. in both japanese and esperanto. they're even using only esperanto that appears in the game! i'm gonna buy it after i get to japan. but anyway, through that i found out that SS is short for "ShouSetsu 小説" (story, fanfic).

lately i can't concentrate so well on cleaning, i keep thinking every two seconds that we're basically already in japan (only 20 days left!) and i'm really happy/excited. every day i'm reminding myself that once we get to japan, like as soon as we get on / off that plane, it's JAPANESE ONLY, no english, no swedish (esperanto's okay though) so i have 20 days left to squeeze out as much english/swedish as i can, right? so i guess that's why i'm talking a lot while i can. it's already clear that the school is going to talk to us in english a lot, at least in the beginning (very unlike what i heard of my stepmom's exchange to japan in the 80-90's where no one at the school knew english apparently).

when i first came to sweden i didn't know any swedish, knew nothing about sweden etc, so i was really quiet and frustrated for a long time just because i couldn't say / understand anything. even now i get frustrated sometimes since i can't say it as coherently/properly/fast as a native swede can. it's not so frustrated that it makes me actually want to improve my swedish, but the thought is still there. like for example, when the embassy called me, when i was speaking i suddenly forgot the word "proof" ("proof that we have money") so i had to pause and then say "proof" in english in the middle of my swedish, which felt really frustrating afterwards not because the guy said anything but because IF I OR HE HADN'T KNOWN ENGLISH THAT WOULDN'T'VE WORKED. aka that was "lazy" of me. in japan they don't know english.

anyway, i responded to the guy who offered to loan me beds asking what exactly "beds" entails so i don't buy stuff i don't need, and it seems the exchange school mailed the other exchange students with a copy of what i had written to them about my eyes, so "everyone knows". which feels really weird as this has never happened before in my life (i've told the teacher, sure, but i've never told the WHOLE CLASS or SCHOOL!"). it's good but it's weird.
10 September 2017 @ 07:23 pm
out of nowhere some japanese person liked one of my OLD twitter posts about nålbinding (i hadn't even written in japanese on it), so i checked out her blog and they'd just started learning like, this week. had some posts about how they keep going back and forth between different kinds of instructions trying to figure it out, which is/was exactly my situation. so i found a recent, clear video and started translating the instructions for her (+ any other japanese person who's interested); i figure any mistakes in writing i make will be cleared up by the screenshots anyway. then i checked out her instagram... she's some old japanese grandma(-aged person) whose ENTIRE DAY is apparently spent doing textile work (crochet and weaving mostly), and she's visited Turkey a bunch of times apparently! it really doesn't seem like she's the person you can be "friends" with online though, kinda sad.

anyway, this is really the first time i've felt confident enough to write a "real" tutorial in japanese about anything. and it makes me want to pick up nålbindning again...

a member of the sendai esperanto club had checked out my twitter and blog (i gave the club the links) and saw i was trying to buy bedding, they said they have two beds they don't use that they'll just LET ME BORROW and that they can drop off at my apartment whenever! that means FREE BEDS! (= saving at least $100 USD). now i've asked what "beds" exactly entails (if it's literally just mattresses or if i also get blankets/pillows) so i know what else to buy when i'm out shopping. he said "everyone at the club is eagerly awaiting your guys' arrival!" ;_;; i also got info on where a bunch of secondhand shops are, so we can go buy stuff (= clothes, plates etc) right away when we get there.

i had hesitated a bit on giving everyone my twitter link because who knows what off-putting stuff i've posted or will post there, but in the end it was a good idea eh!

before this month is over i need to finish watching Shinsekai Yori, Death Note, Chobits and possibly one other series: i'm going to assume i can't watch anime in japan due to not having internet at home among other reasons (the irony!). it'll be sad since i won't have a TV at home either so i can't just watch normal japanese TV... i wonder if they have super cheap movie-viewing places or something i can go to...
10 September 2017 @ 01:07 am
just watched 10 hunter x hunter eps in 2 days, since animelon updated with some more. in the beginning of july i was looking up like half the sentence for every single sentence, but now i'm only looking up a handful of words per ep (sometimes there's a whole string of sentences where i'm missing lots of words, other times i get all of it).

by my estimates, this show is JLPT N1 level (=hardest level). my original goal was to make it from N3 to N1 from june to september (=4 months); in the end i couldn't/can't make it to N1 but i did get to N2 at least. i have a whole year of living in japan to get to N1 so it's fine, but i hope i can make it there before the end of the first semester.

lately i've been doing stuff like watching/reading product reviews and reading "what to buy/do as a tourist" blog posts in japanese even without a dictionary. i'll edit this post and link a couple examples later once i'm on my own comp. i've slowly been automatically upping the amount of hours i practice japanese; as it gets easier to write/understand, i just naturally spend more time doing it without even thinking about it. now i'm doing 4 hours a day or more on most days (a random mix of typing, reading, watching and listening).

now that i've finally finished that cat book it's time to complete the highschooler's book about "the marketplace" (=basic economics) that i started some months ago and never got back to... it explains things REALLY simply, as if you're a kindergartener and not a highschooler, and that seems typical of japanese (swedish is the same way) so i'm pretty glad. using textbooks for native speakers is a good way to improve your language skills in general (it's how i improve my faroese at least), but for me it's a bit more meaningful than that: i always wanted to go on a high school exchange to japan and couldn't, on top of that i got a very different education (=Very Shitty) compared to the average person/european and always feel super stupid, so reading highschool textbooks is kind of like making up for that time. i never took chemistry, physics or calculus for example; required subjects in most countries. i never learned about or don't remember anything about most historical figures and places etc.... so if i eventually read about all that as language practice it's a pretty good deal.
09 September 2017 @ 04:42 pm
cleaned up more stuff, made small gift packages (= tea + patterned napkins) to hand out to special people i meet in japan, now i've started cleaning out my phone of all the "japanese reference sentences" i was taking screenshots of (i have like 300 screenshots and need to grab the sentences and put them on the learning_japanese comm)

It's just free wrapping paper you can get at the grocery store (they change the patterns every so often and there just happened to be a nice-looking one this time).

finished reading my first NON-MANGA book in japanese; it's meant for 4-5 year olds and is about a talking cat who's insulted by everyone for being fat and lazy. runs away from home, makes a cat restaurant that sells food made out of clouds (= daydreams), the restaurant flops because daydreams don't make you full, then he goes back to his owner in the end but at least he loses weight. when i first checked it out months ago it had a bunch of words i didn't know, but by the time (= this week) i finally got around to reading it there were almost no words i didn't know.

Now the bulk of the stuff I have to prepare for the exchange is just all my computer stuff. Sell old broken laptops, fix up the one I'll hopefully take with me, remove all the files from my smartphone and factory-reset it then give it to my wife's sisters, remove all the files from everyone else's computers that I have scattered around and delete my user accounts and move everything to that newly fixed-up laptop...

My wife has a ton of stuff she doesn't want to throw away. By a "ton" I mean it all fits in our room but to me almost all of it is junk: Kid's toys (just toss), old drawings (scan and toss), bits of fabric (just toss), videogame cases (toss the cases, keep the games) etc. She keeps going "but I HAVE tossed a lot of stuff!" and I think you need to stop looking at the amount that you've tossed and start looking at what you have left and where you're going with it. If we move to Japan at the end of our stay, I don't want to take a plane flight back to Sweden PURELY in order to come here and toss boxes of my wife's stuff and then go back to Japan. Or, I don't want to pay like a thousand dollars to mail all of her stuff to us and then have our tiny cramped one-room apartment be full of.... crap like old Barbies. Have maybe 5 toys max: ALL TOYS. Not 5 toys out of each possible category of toys. Crafting stuff (scissors, thread, whatever)? You can rebuy that when you actually need it. I'm trying to get it so all of my belongings are actually able to go with me to Japan: Not leaving ANYTHING here in Sweden. So it's frustrating. Especially frustrating because we already know her parents are going to fill our room with junk while we're gone, they'll probably move around anything we have left and make it so lost we can't find it even if we do come back to get it, and it already happened exactly like that when my wife moved to Iceland so I don't get why she's still thinking she can just leave stuff here with her parents.

When I left the USA I brought 1 backpack, 1 suitcase, possibly 1 cardboard box (hard to remember) and I left 1 cardboard box at my dad's place (which is still there since I've never had the money to visit those guys). The goal is to have even less than that when I go to Japan, because at the time I didn't know stuff like how easy it would be finding household goods (towels etc) in the new country and I had no scanner so I couldn't toss my physical books. But my wife really isn't on board with it.
08 September 2017 @ 12:19 pm
watched a youtube video about an american lady in japan... okay, good, she's at least learning japanese. comments that this video (with a japanese person) is in english "so that you guys can all understand" etc, i'm okay with that. no idea how long she's been in japan but it seems like at least a few years, based on some stuff she said.


then she said stuff like "sometimes there's kanji i don't know on the menu and google translate doesn't help". what was one of the kanji she didn't know? freaking HORSE MEAT. 馬肉. i fully understand there being kanji you don't know but if your level is so low that you don't know "horse" and "meat" you need to stop talking as if you're good at japanese... these are kanji you learn (or should learn) in your first year of studies.

in some ways "westerners" in japan are waaaay better than those i've seen anywhere else (you are, after all, going to a country and language completely different from the rest of the world in daily life in a lot of ways so it takes a certain kind of person to stay and live there), but then there's still plenty of normal ones that are left. i really REALLY do not want to be around these people. i don't want to be influenced by someone who still can't speak japanese or still doesn't eat japanese food after 10 years of living in japan. i don't want to look up, realize a year has passed and the majority of my company has been foreigners so we've taught each other language and culture mistakes and never experienced, well, japan for real.... that's not what i'm going to japan for.

i keep being weak and thinking i'm being too harsh. they're still just people, it's not their fault they're foreign, if they're nice then it's fine to be around them etc etc. buuuuuuut no, i have to stop that, that's falling into their trap...
08 September 2017 @ 01:22 am
man, my exchange school is so great!

they saw on my health certificate that i had aniridia and asked about it (admitting they know nothing about it lol, but usually no one does so i'm used to it) and i explained about my eyes and what kinds of stuff i tend to do for studying or need in class. i'm too tired of other struggles in life to put up with struggles in class due to my eyes anymore, so i made it really clear, i NEED large-print books or e-books, i DO handwrite worse and learn how to write more slowly than other people, etc. i can technically get by in life with normal-print books but it's going to take me 5x as long to read a page; same goes for handwriting, it's going to take me 3x as long to write that note. i really don't want to do stuff like be in japan and constantly panic over that i have to take 10 hours to read my 1 book chapter per week that i have to do for class.

anyway they replied saying that there's 40 students (10 per year) taking "visually impaired education courses" (= learning how to deal with visually impaired people) and 1 teacher at the school is entirely blind. they also have a deaf teacher who's apparently famous for being a super good teacher, so says my twitter friend. they sent an email to the local library asking how many large-print books they have, and said if i ever need any the school can order them to the school library for me! as a moving closing note, they said "We would like to support you as much as we can, so that you can have enjoyable and meaningful time in Sendai". it really means a lot to me. i've never asked for so much help from a school before. i'm already going to be extremely out of my element in japan, i really don't want to try struggling in ANY way with my eyes either. even though i was raised with the american "never ask for help because that means you're weak!!!" mindset, it never pays with this kind of thing.

in other news i'm buying this electricless handheld sewing machine tonight and will practice with it on fabric i was going to toss before leaving for japan, to see if it's worth taking with me / using:

if it's worthless i'll toss it before i leave and try an electric one in japan (which i'm planning on doing anyway, unless this handheld one is better than i imagine). the funny thing is the reviews! english-speakers have nothing but complaints and say they're worthless, the thread comes undone etc; japanese people only complain that it takes a while of practice (3+ times) before you can get a good straight line, they fix the thread at the end by knotting or burning it; swedes have zero complaints, say it works great, fix the thread by cutting it a certain way.

made "anko" (sweet azuki bean paste) by chopping up dates, simmering them in water for a bit to make date juice/paste, and then cooking the beans in it instead of normal water. tasted just like it should!! normally people use a ton of sugar instead; i've tried honey before and the results weren't so good.

i tried making sushi rice, added some of the date juice to the water it was boiling in; after the rice was cooked i dumped out the extra water, added in more date juice and let it cook a bit more. it did turn out sweet. i thought i'd try putting kimchi juice in with it and letting it ferment for a day or two then tasting it, but my wife wanted to eat it after just a few hours so i didn't get to see how the "fermented" taste would be... well, next time.
06 September 2017 @ 02:48 am
three weeks until i go to japan. THREE WEEKS!!!! !!! !!

the VISA stuff should finally be sorted out tomorrow morning and then we can go pick them up in stockholm next week. the other exchange student from my same school, while in general we're really similar and had a lot of the same ideas, she's coming with her entire year's living costs paid for by the japanese government (= won the single scholarship available) so her sense of what's "sensible" to buy during the exchange is somewhat screwed up; like while she thinks yeah, save money on beds, she also thinks it's fine to buy an actual normal full sewing machine while there. unless i misunderstood her...

i've been trying to research about different useful, cheap gadgets to buy (ex. an electric handheld sewing machine) and at what kinds of places we can eat at; but we really can eat at most places. you can even get pure squid legs on a stick from VENDING MACHINES. apparently if you just say "i'm not really hungry" you can get away with ordering any ingredient separately (ex. buying just toppings and not the full ramen). i'm going to try and find out about stuff like if we can get milk delivered to us from a farm, which doesn't happen here in sweden...

anyway, i still have cleaning and blog organizing to do before i go. it's really autumn now, it's getting really cold at night but is fine during the daytime (we have mice living in our house year-round eating up all our insulation, whatever little amount there ever actually was). so i'm just sitting here freezing despite that i'm wearing a wool sweater, sigh.
05 September 2017 @ 09:10 am
copyright is really freaking confusing. ignoring the whole "everyone's being strong-armed into copying america's copyright, and america's extending everything constantly just so mickey mouse won't go out of copyright", there's problems like this:

an author wrote in their will that they leave the copyright to their daughter, and after their daughter's death copyright will be donated to a certain library. instead the daughter in HER will gives the copyright to a friend, that friend sells it to a company; the library got a one-time payment on stuff that's still earning tons of money for that company. apparently this is legal.

the big problem seems to come when 1. copyright is given to heirs, 2. to companies. tons of people are having problems like, they're trying to translate a book and find out the copyright was given to the author's son, who isn't contactable. so they have no way of even asking about paying to acquire publication rights for their translation.

supposedly if you translate a work for free, and won't earn money on it, you can publish it online and you're not infringing copyright as it's counted as a "derivative work"... but as soon as you want money for it you ARE infringing. AND in terms of copyright law YOUR translation is counted as a "new work", it's copyright doesn't go out at the same time as the work you translated, because it's a "sufficiently original work". tell me, how the hell can an original/derivative work suddenly switch into a NON-original/derivative as soon as money's involved, eh?

then, even if you're reproducing the entire original book, if you just add NOTES it's counted as a new work because you've "edited it enough". so someone's republished the little house on the prairie with annotations and that's apparently fine to do.

so in the future i want to be a translator, right? well i was trying to search for how to even GET the rights to translate a book. everyone online just says "go to a publisher and ask to publish your translation with them, and they'll battle for the rights for you". what?! sorry but if you go to a "real publishing company", you'll only be earning like 10 cents per book sold. it's like slave labour. that's why translators are poor.
04 September 2017 @ 05:00 pm
While throwing out all my junk realized I have a ton of books I own but've never read. If I wanted to bring them with me they'd take up a lot of space/weight. To try and solve this I'm reducing their bulk and (eventually) giving them new covers so they look like something I'd actually want to read. I think that ESPECIALLY if you buy large-print books, or textbooks, doing this could really help out. The books definitely feel more "accessible" and "readable" now, it's kind of hard to explain.

For example, this 477g (22x15cm) hardcover book was reduced to 295g (18x13cm):

Read more... )
03 September 2017 @ 12:58 am
bought the plane tickets to japan: arriving oct 3rd, 8am.

been checking out how to buy bedding for 2 days now; cheapest seems to be buying it online at a store called "nitori", which does free delivery. the problem is 1, what kind of ID can i show the postman? does my passport work? and 2. will i be too busy/away from the student apartments to be able to pick up my package when the postman arrives? i really don't to go 1-2 weeks without a bed and blanket... in october....
02 September 2017 @ 02:26 pm
• picked up my reading glasses (they cost $450-500 USD total). WOW, they help a LOT!

what i never realized before is that because my eyesight is so bad, my eyes are naturally already focused on everything that other people consider as only "reading distance". so suddenly i can find items easier, i can read the computer easier, i can actually read those little cards and stuff that are at the cash register, and since my "distance vision" was so bad already i haven't actually noticed any difference there. the eyeglasses guy said it's only a small change from my other glasses but when your eyesight is this bad, a tiny change that other people would ignore can still help you a lot.

• found out the problem with my bank card; they were sending the activation code to the wrong phone number (not my fault). i should get the code in the mail on tuesday and then be able to order the plane tickets.

• found out that buying futons in japan will be a third (or less) of the cost of renting them from the school, and found out precisely where / how to get them. you can even order them online and get free delivery. luckily the other exchange student coming from my school is really similar to me and my wife, and is agreeing with / already thinking about basically all the ways we're talking about for setting up our student apartments / saving money and stuff so it's pretty nice.

• ramped up the cleaning (it's a bit hard since we have no car and have to walk 20 minutes to the grocery store just to drop off trash); feels really good to finally toss everything that i ever "didn't use". books? toss. decorative paper? toss. broken clothing? toss. no matter how much i like it, i have to find a way to toss everything so i'm down to just a backpack and a suitcase. in the process you also find out what's actual good quality, ex. i have some pens and erasers i've barely used in 5 years and yet they still work as if they were brand-new.
01 September 2017 @ 09:12 am
It's already painfully obvious that in Japan too it's way cheaper to make your food at home than to buy it. 700 yen for 9 pieces of sushi (using maybe what, 1/2 or 2/3rds of a slice of fish?), when a whole slice of that same fish would only cost 130 yen? "Fruit pies" that cost 500 yen when the amount of fruit inside is only worth 100-200 (a whole kiwi's 100, but they only put two SLICES of kiwi in).

As soon as you get into any pre-made food at all the price skyrockets. There's no real pre-made food (other than tofu) under 250 yen but you can get 600g bananas, 300g octopus/beef/fish eggs, 3 salted mackerels, 5 eggplants etc for that amount.

Anyway. Googled "Sendai convenience store" with the intention of comparing food prices for stuff like pre-boiled eggs (just because everyone online says "if you need to, you can always eat those") and on their homepage was a big ad "looking for staff!!". I thought, well, they probably want work experience and shit, I can't work there... but I'll read the ad description anyway, because I haven't in fact yet SEEN a low-level job in Japan where they even asked you for your resume/CV. Maybe they ask it of you when you actually come to the place to get the interview?

But they specifically pointed out that they have foreign/exchange student staff, and had an interview with one where he said he just went into the convenience store right next to his house, asked if he could get a job (dunno if they were already hiring) and they gave him one; and "no one cared if I couldn't say anything or didn't know what to say, they just coached me on what to say next time in that situation" and "they said, more importantly than words, to just smile". (Apparently you're really supposed to smile at the convenience store but it honestly seems like people are genuinely enjoying working there so...)

And so I was really moved and started tearing up... In the 5 years I've lived here in Uppsala I haven't even gotten to the interview stage for a job. Not convenience stores (which basically don't exist anyway), not McDonald's, not for any cafés, can't even get babysitting jobs because those require a driver's license and childcare permit. And here I am stumbling across random "we hire exchange students!!" jobs by CHANCE where they have what seems like REAL (not faked to seem better) testimonies by workers. I was also struck by how real the testimonies seemed for other jobs — you don't say stuff like "yeah we even teach people who've never hired a knife before, don't you worry" unless you're being real. You'd say something like "inexperienced people are welcome!" and leave it at that.

Then I clicked on another interview by an "inexperienced person" at that same shop: "I first walked into this store by chance and was shocked at how everyone was smiling and seemed so happy, and I thought if it's here, maybe I can learn to smile too... When I applied for a job there I felt really weird about the uniform and stuff but after a while I ended up being able to smile naturally. And then one day someone called out to me "hey brother, nice smile! Keep at it!" and I was so happy/shocked I couldn't form a facial expression or think of how to respond. That was the first time anyone's ever complimented my smile. Afterwards I heard that that same customer who complimented me tended to get mad at the other staff members whenever they made small mistakes. So then I learned, wow, a smile really does affect even those kinds of people."

i mean, the store's really pushing the american-style "you must smile!!!" propaganda shit BUT i am a guy who smiles a lot anyway so it doesn't matter to me.
31 August 2017 @ 09:29 pm
got a call from the embassy today. my VISA's all ready and done, but because the embassy website has wrong / missing info when it comes to bringing your spouse along with when you're a student, we have to get a bunch of different / new stuff for my wife. told them to fix their site and they said they won't. and the guy sounded really cranky on the phone even before i had talked to him.

apparently i'm the first exchange student EVER who's been married + bringing their spouse along with, to this specific school that i'm going to. so i bet they're going to be pretty curious about my wife... when i was in iceland i was "famous" for being the youngest person in the uni (since i graduated high school a year early & stuff), not that it gave me any perks or got me any special friends or anything.

bank PIN code still hasn't come. tomorrow's friday; if it doesn't come in the mail i'm calling them to ask them when it's coming. plane ticket prices are rising by the day and that's reaaaally bad. my wife says i should've called the bank to ask when the PIN's coming like 2 days ago but they always seem to send the PIN a few days apart from sending the card-readers so i think this is probably just normal; and it's a huge fucking pain to call the bank so i really don't want to (waiting 40+ minutes each time, having to dial in my social security number each time and if you mess up even once you're sent back to the queue, explaining my problem 4 different times because no one LISTENS to what i'm actually saying. "my card is locked, i have no working PIN code" "okay well, please put in your PIN code!" "it says my card is locked" "oh is that so?? you went and locked your card eh??")