Me typing?

Another missing word

One of the funny things about learning a language as an adult is that there are holes in your vocabulary. Yesterday, walking home, the kids in front of our apartment were all having fun with jump ropes. When I thought about it, I knew how to say, the children are jumping, but I didn't know what the word for a jump rope was. So I stopped and asked one of the mothers, who laughed and said, "nawatobi." Then she thought about it, and said... Nawa? Tobi means jumping, but nawa -- maybe it's nagai, which means long? She wasn't sure where the word came from, but she was sure it was nawatobi.

I looked it up, later, where I found out that nawa actually means straw rope! So apparently this is old enough that they were using straw ropes for jumping.

And now I know one more word of Japanese. So I can joke about a jump rope. Maybe.

Who are you talking to?

Another TV ad that I think is great.

The ad starts with the camera looking past someone's shoulder at a young man who is peering at a cell phone in his hand. He glances up and asks, "What's the difference between candy crush and candy soda?"

At this point, the camera pulls back, and we see whose shoulder that was. A tall man is kneeling on his white legs on top of the table in front of the young man. On the back of the tall man are translucent wings! From his head, two antenna rise in majestic curves, ending in orange ping-pong balls. His earlobes have dangling florescent green triangles. In one hand, he is holding a white scepter with a large green figure of some indeterminate kind on the upper tip. He looks down at the young man, unsmiling.

The ad then cuts to an animated game screen showing candy bits moving in a maze, and the logo for candy crush soda pops up on the screen.

That kneeling figure with the strange outfit is what makes this commercial. Even after you've seen it a couple times, when it comes on again, you watch for the humor of it.

And now they have at least two variations of the ad also running! In one, the kneeling figure sways a little bit, and his wings move, but he reassures the young man that his wings are moving by themselves. In the other one, he's actually kneeling on the seat across from the young man, with a table in between. I haven't caught what they are saying yet. Apparently they are in a diner or something? It looks like a diner booth, anyway.

Very eye-catching.

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What is that in your hand?

There is a TV ad running now in Japan, by one of our cell phone companies, that I find very interesting. Here's what it looks like:

A bearded man looked out the window. He tugged at his vest, and adjusted his watch chain. The door behind him clicked and opened. Without looking, he said, "Watson?"

A man in blue jeans and a T-shirt came in the door. He looked around and said, "What year is this?"

The bearded man turned, stood up, and looked the man who had come through the door over, from head to foot. The bearded man shook his head and said, "1876."

Then the bearded man looked at the man in blue jeans and said, "What is that in your hand?"

The man in blue jeans chuckled. He lifted his hand. "This? This is a telephone."

The bearded man looked closely at it. He lifted the little box and said, "But where is it connected?"

The man in blue jeans shrugged, and pointed out the window. The bearded man looked where he was pointing and said, "A cloud?"

Just then, the door opened again. A slight figure stepped through, and looked at the two men. The short figure, silhouetted against the light, said, "What year is this?"

The bearded man said, "1876."

The slight figure stepped forward and said, "300 years!"

The bearded man and the man in blue jeans looked at the slight figure and said, "What is that in your hand?"

That's the end of the ad. From there, they simply go to the name of the sponsor, one of our large cell phone companies. But the thing that I love about this ad is the sequence. First we have Alexander Graham Bell faced with someone who stepped through time and shows him a cell phone. And then we have one more figure, who has something in their hand. That last little bit is the part that I really love about this ad. 300 years -- 2176? What will they have in their hand then?
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How do you swallow this stuff?

Most of the time, being in Japan doesn't baffle me too much. However, right now I'm fighting a cold, and part of the treatment...

See, I have these little metallic foil packages. Open here, by tearing off the top, use your fingers to spread, and... pour the granules into your mouth and swallow.

My wife says it's easy, everyone knows how to do that! But despite suggestions -- get a sip of water in your mouth first, then pour the granules in, then swallow? Huh? I am still having trouble. At least I have gotten over my first reaction, which was to try to sneeze -- blowing medicine all over. But after swallowing I still find myself with granules in between my teeth, and I am far to likely to chew on them, and they taste terrible.

If you pour it in dry, that's even worse, and of course, if you sip too much liquid, trying to open your mouth to add the medicine can get messy... I don't think my mouth was designed for mixing medicine!

Pills, tablets, capsules, those I can handle without any real problems. But this loose granulated stuff, or the powder that some of the medicines are -- I suppose it does digest easily, but really, why loose?

How do you swallow it?
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Me typing?

A memory of peanut butter and brown sugar

This morning, while I was fixing breakfast, I found myself chuckling over a memory from years ago. I was making toast, and deciding whether to have honey, or perhaps raspberry jelly and peanut butter. And I remembered one day in elementary school.

In those days, I usually carried a lunch to school. Almost every day, I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And one day, for some reason, I decided I was bored with peanut butter and jelly.

So when I got home, I told my mother I was bored, and that I wanted something different. She listened to me, and said, "All right."

As I remember it, the very next day at school, I unwrapped my lunch. There was a sandwich, and it looked like peanut butter. But when I bit into it! Wait, what is this? It's not peanut butter and jelly.

In fact, it was peanut butter, brown sugar, and raisins. And I enjoyed every bite.

When I got home, I thanked my mother.

And from time to time, after that, she would slip another different sandwich into the daily routine.

But I still remember the taste of peanut butter, brown sugar, and raisins. And some mornings, when I feel like it, I make my toast with peanut butter and brown sugar.

Maybe I'll get some raisins this week.

In honor of my mother, who taught me to appreciate having a little something different now and then.
Me typing?

Akemashite omeditou gozaimasu!

Akemashite omeditou gozaimasu! Otherwise known as Happy New Year, except...

That leaves a lot of the juice out. Let's look at the words. First of all, akemashite actually means, roughly, the light has come, or it is lighting up. Punnily enough, it also sounds exactly like the verb for opening, unlocking, unwrapping. Omeditou gozaimasu is a very polite congratulations, which you also use when someone has a baby, or for graduations, weddings, those kind of life achievements. So it's congratulations, the light has come, or if you prefer the pun, the new year is opening.

And just at midnight on New Year's Eve, people everywhere in Japan turn to their family or friends and exchange this cheerful greeting. For the next few days, when you talk to someone on the phone or meet them somewhere, if you haven't congratulated them on being enlightened by (or maybe started) a new year, you use this greeting.

Often followed immediately with a plea. Kotoshi mo douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu. Which is a polite way to ask them to treat you with favor this year, too.

Anyway, akemashite omeditou gozaimasu. As I said, I used to think it meant the new year has opened, but it really is the light has come. Enlightened or opened, it's a good sentiment to start the new year with, I think. That new year, glistening and shining with possibilities lies in front of us. What are you going to do with it?

Something to think about. And then do something about.


Twilight and Sasara Saku?

I think that's a mistake. There's a new movie coming out here in Japan, apparently from Warner Bros.

If I understand correctly, the movie is based on a book called Sasara Saku. In this case, Sasara is a town, and Saku is the woman who has just moved there with her child after her husband died. But apparently from the teasers, his ghost is hanging around, trying to help out by possessing people.

However, the title of the movie is Twilight Sasara Saku. I'm guessing that Warner Bros. is trying to cash in on the Twilight name, but there doesn't seem to be any connection. I mean Twilight was all about teenage love and sparkly vampires, right? I never saw it, but I certainly heard a lot about it. This one is about a single mother and the ghost? I don't see the connection... And I don't see any other reason to call it Twilight.

Of course I'm not in the target audience in any case, but I wish they had just called it Sasara Saku...

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Fireworks Delight

Black Wolves of Boston?

Ever wonder what a story looks like before all the polishing? Wen Spencer is busily writing bits and pieces from a story that grabbed her, right over there on Facebook. So go take a look! Be aware -- no nitpicking, spelling, typos, grammar and continuity come LATER. Right now, she's exploring, writing by the seat-of-her-pants and finding the story. So relax and enjoy the ride!

Go over to for the start of the story. Look for Black Wolves of Boston and all the other pieces in Facebook under Wen Spencer.

I think you'll like it!
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Planting babies in the sand?

Interesting! Have you ever seen a baby planted in the sand? A recent TV show visited New Caledonia, and among other things, showed us a baby planted in the sand. Up to about his waist, I guess, and he was quite happy, waving his arms and smiling, with his legs buried in the sand.

His father explained that the local belief is that putting babies in the sand this way helps them to walk sooner. He showed us how you do it. Dig out a deep hole, stand the naked baby up in the hole against the side, and then pack the sand in around his legs. Keep shoveling until the sand is over his hips, about waist high, and pack it down.

The baby certainly seemed happy, reaching for his father, then waving at things around him.

I guess this is kind of a sand version of those frames with ropes and an oversized plastic pair of shorts for the baby to sit in, with legs dangling below.

I wonder if anyone has looked at whether this really helps babies walk sooner or not?
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Why does the sparrow dance?

I've forgotten whether I posted this or not -- back on May 29, this is what I saw:

This morning, under a blue sky with a forecast of a beautiful spring day, I was walking into work when I happened to notice a tiny sparrow apparently dancing  near the door into the building. Under the tree beside the door, he was dashing, twisting, performing aerobatics in a wonderful display. It was beautiful. I stopped to watch from a little distance, afraid that getting closer would make him stop.

Then I started to chuckle. Watching him change directions, bouncing up and down with wings fluttering, I had finally noticed the small gray moth who was frantically dodging the sparrow's pursuit.

After a moment or two, the sparrow finally flew away. I believe the moth fluttered away under the tree somewhere.

And I walked on into work. With a smile, for dancing moths and sparrows on the wing.
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