August 2009

tractor-attackJapan is a place where high tech thrives. Until it comes to the News/talk TV shows. How do they get the graphics up? by cutting articles out of a newspaper and pasting it to a board and circling the articles with a highlighter…. The heck with all this new fangled computer stuff, lets break out the Lego people next time we need to renact a crime…

via Japan Probe:

A criminal fleeing from police tried to make a getaway in a construction tractor. Cop cars chased him as he sped down a road at 15 km/h (9.3 mph), occasionally backing up when he put the tractor in reverse to scare them away. Cops cornered him in a field about 1 kilometer from the starting point of the chase, where he proceeded to swing around the shovel of the vehicle, knocking over a tree and digging up some dirt. His menacing actions kept police at bay for about 40 minutes. The stand-off ended when one officer charged the vehicle and smashed its windows with a club.

Bwahahahaha, the toy renactment is awesome 🙂   Low Tech FTW!

VRNd1 - Imgur

Click to go to full size

Via Japansoc we find this excellent cartoon showing what an anime fanboy would be like if a Japanese found animated shows from the US and became a fanboy. Otaku wannabe in reverse. Kudos to Imgur for a deadon critique of the obsessed. Hilarious!

500x_conanArnold Schwarznegger still has his sword from the original Conan movie. Via io9:

Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Twitter: “I do still have the Conan sword, and I keep it in my office. Here’s a picture.”

lol, wonder if he takes practise swings?

Gundamvia Anime News Network and TokyoMango

A middle aged man in Kobe set his room on fire and eventually burned down his house because his mother had thrown out his Gundam toy collection:

This past weekend, a 29-year old man named Yoshifumi Takabe burned down the large two-story house in Kobe that he shared with his mom. It was a suspected suicide & murder attempt based on the fact that his mother had thrown away his collection of Gundam figurines. At least that’s what he told police when he was arrested on Sunday.

The suspect reportedly doused his room with kerosene and lit it with a lighter around 2:10 p.m. on Sunday. The resulting fire eventually burned down the two-story house, which was about 250 square meters (about 2,700 square feet) and made partially from wood. The suspect reportedly doused his room with kerosene and lit it with a lighter around 2:10 p.m. on Sunday. The resulting fire eventually burned down the two-story house, which was about 250 square meters (about 2,700 square feet) and made partially from wood. According to the police, the suspect said that his mother had gotten rid of his “valuable” Gundam plastic models, so he wanted to kill himself.

words fail me …

readkanjitodayI picked up Len Walsh’s Read Japanese Today in the bookstore on a whim one day. I loved his historical approach to learing kanji. He goes into the history of how each character was written in China and how it evolved to its current form. This really gives you a good way to remember each kanji. Not just a simple mnemonic but the history and evolution of the kanji which is rooted in the actual depiction so it helps you remember how to write it too.

japanesethemangawayI have been reading Japanese the Manga Way by Wayne Lammers recently. Lammers uses a wide variety of manga to illustrate the topics under discussion. He also uses the four line method of translation which I prefer.  The four line method is to give the kana/kanji original on the first line, then the romaji phonetics on the second line, then the direct english translation on the third, then the correct and proper english on the fourth line. The manga comics also supplement the topics very well; giving good examples to explain the topics at hand. It is hard for the typical westerner to grasp the politeness levels in Japanese (choices of words changes based on the relationship between the speaker and the listener which can imply a lot in terms of the story, understanding it is a must).

Let's Learn Hiragana

Let's Learn Hiragana

To learn Japanese you need to start at the beginning. For Japanese children the beginning is Hiragana. Equivalent to learning the ABC‘s, the symbols of the syllabary are the sounds which form words. As Chris at Nihongo Notes states:

Basically you build a solid foundation in a similar manner to how a child would learn a language. Once you have a solid foundation you can build upon it with fancy grammar and a larger vocabulary.

The best book I have found for simply learning the Hiragana syllabary is Let’s Learn Hiragana by Yaxsuko Mitamura. She goes through the syllabary in groups, practising each one and giving basic vocabulary using the kana as she goes. Simnple drills for writing each symbol and even goes into proper pen strokes  when writing.

I have been looking for a book that teaches the Hiragana set without treating the reader like a child. Hiragana is the first thing Japanese children learnin school and a lot of the materials available have that focus. I.e. they tend to be written for kindergardners. I want a book that eschews the cutesy pictures and just focuses on building the foundation of language. Yasuko’s book does that very nicely.

Every region that has seen human habitation has ruins that it can call its own. From Stonehenge in England to the Pyramids of Egypt.  The Ohio valley and the Midwest certainly prove this rule with the Indian mounds left by the Hopewell and Adena Indian cultures.  We took a day and went to the Fort Ancient Historical Site in SouthWestern Ohio. Spent the morning hiking around the site and the afternoon visiting the museum.

The Fort Ancient Site is a huge enclosure of earthworks on a plateau overlooking the Little Miami River gorge. The mounds of the walls cover almost 3 and a half miles of distance it is stunning to realize that this work was doen with only the simplest of tools.  From the OHS website:

Fort Ancient features 18,000 feet of earthen walls built 2,000 years ago by American Indians who used the shoulder blades of deer, split elk antler, clam shell hoes and digging sticks to dig the dirt. They then carried the soil in baskets holding 35 to 40 pounds. Portions of these walls were used in conjunction with the sun and moon to provide a calendar system for these peoples.

When you enter the Park the county road drives right between the two “Twin Mounds” at the entrance.

The enclosure is so huge and so overgrown that it is hard to get a feel at times for just how big it is. it is amazing to think that the the trees found growing on the mounds by the settlers and early explorers were over a hundred years old but there six or seven generations of trees that had grown there.

The museum is very well done with a nice garden showing the typical crops grown by the Hopewell Indians who made their home here and built these mounds.  The muddaub hut was amazingly cool inside. It was close to 90 outside and yet it felt like it was a cool 78 inside the hut.

More pics at my flickr set.

The Dwarves

The Dwarves

I have just finished reading Markus Heintz’s The Dwarves. A rousing good epic fantasy tale about my favorite kind of fantasy folk – dwarves. The tale centers around the typical threatening evil and the epic quest to obtain a weapon which will defeat it. Markus states in his notes that he did not set out to completely reinvent the typical fantasy fan’s interpretation of dwarves. He instead takes the standard fantasy trope of dwarven hood (mines, underground cities, axes and hammers, and ale) and adds a few of his own twists to fit his tale (guardians of the gates of the land, five “clans” of dwarves with one clan bent on the destruction of the others, etc.). Gems for longtime gamers also make it into the text with answers to the age-old dilemna of whether female dwarves have beards and mages that seem very derived from Ars Magica’s covenants. Props also must go to Sally Ann-Spenser for doing a very good job with the translation. The story moves at a quick pace. Though some of the naming conventions are a little awkward, most of them tend to work quite well and are consistent across the races. My biggest complaint outside of the not very relevant maps are the predictability of some of the events in the book.

I highly recommend this to anyone wanting a good fantasy read.

more pics from the Hocking Hills Market. Nostalgia trips for all us grognards …

Remember the CB radio craze from back in the day? “Breaker Breaker 1-9!” fun stuff …

Batman and Robin Society, Superman Society, and the Green Lantern Society buttons available at this stall..

Old Battleship game set and an old computer joystick. I spent many an afternoon as a teen playing Battleship with my friends.

This Tandy/Radio Shack 1650 chess set still works. Check out the old Sony Walkman and Hot Wheels next to it. Like a kid again…

Remember 8 track tape players?  The tape entitled “16 Greatest Truck Driver Hits” cracked me up …

Spent the day browsing through the Flea Market at the Hocking Hills Market, found a stack of 80’s Savage Sword of Conan comics in a corner of one of the booths. These were definitely not collectors level as the spines were very worn and they had various tears and rips and yellowing. Decided to get one for nostaglia anyway, if it is in bad shape then I will not mind if it gets damaged from reading. I spent many an afternoon as a kid buried in Conan comics and Mike Grell’s Warlord from DC.

They have collected the stories for the various comics that were based on Howards’  original Conan stories including many with original Barry Windsor-Smith art:

The Savage Sword of Conan, Vol. 1 (v. 1)

Next Page »