Category Archives: C’est la vie

it’ll do. next

I used to be a perfectionist.  Maybe I still am – not sure.  Maybe more realist?

Anyway I’ve been thinking about how, not only some of the time, but pretty much all the time, good enough is, well, good enough.  Perhaps it just comes down to having a good eye for the point on the curve of diminishing returns where the slope goes uncomfortably vertical.

Robert Lundberg talks about this in his book on lute construction.   Since my ambition is to become a luthier, I read this with great attention to every word.  Of course, my instruments must be perfect!  So when he said that his standard was simply “good enough”; you can imagine that that caught my attention and I’ve been ruminating on it ever since.  (Granted that Lundberg’s version of “good enough” would seem “utterly flawless” to most people.  But the simple fact that if one cut was close enough that making a second cut was more trouble than it was worth, then the first cut would do – well, that certainly played a large part in his amazing productivity.  This is the man that once made about eighty experimental lutes to test a theory, after all.)  Certainly for a beginner, at the end of a year who will be more skilled; the luthier who slaved over five instruments, attempting to work them to perfection, or the luthier who built thirty to a standard of “good enough”?

Then there was my Q45.  I’ve spent inordinate quantities of time in my life pondering upon what car to get next.  Now my Q45, well, it has its issues, no doubt.  Lots of miles, and right now it needs a fair bit of work again.  But the fact is that every time I think of what to replace it with, I conclude that the upgrade simply wouldn’t be worth it.  I like it; it’s good enough.  At any rate at this point it seems that it has become “my car”, like something that’s nearly a part of me.  The notion of getting rid of it seems odd and ridiculous, like upgrading a body part.  So I’ll just keep fixing and upgrading it and save myself the time and trouble of replacement (with something that would certainly not be “good enough” in some other way).

I started a blog yesterday for my Japanese studies, and WordPress gives you around 80 themes to pick from.  You can of course also upload your own theme or modify the CSS, although they charge a bit extra for that.   There were amongst those six or eight themes with a look that appealed to me.  (Note that I didn’t have a set style in mind and try to match what I was imagining.  That way lies frustration, because, again, it’ll never be good enough.  Instead I looked at all of them with an open mind.)  The first two I tried wrapped my longish blog title in an awkward way.  The third one fit everything correctly and looked pretty good so I didn’t bother trying the rest.

There’s a great deal to be said, I’ve concluded, for stating simply that “this is how it is” and not worrying about it.

‘ere’s a laff

See, this is why I dislike Winnipeg.

I posted the CBR600 on Kijiji yesterday.  I put an asking price of $3900, and stated that I was open to reasonable offers.  I even italicized reasonable because I know how Winnipeggers are.  I believed that this was very clear.

And just like clockwork, today, the first response I got – “$2500 right now”.  ARGH!

Attention Winnipeg lowballers (that’s the whole town, more or less): first, you will be mocked mercilessly; next,  you will be deleted.

In other news, I reviewed 508 kanji today.  85% success first time through.  Not bad, not good enough.  Regardless it’s high time to add more.  1500-odd to go, after all.

Also the Dakota (a.k.a. wretched steaming pile of money pit) is in the shop again.  Also it’s rusting fast (had no rust at all in fall).  Anyone want to buy a really nice truck?  I’ll give you a good deal!

Also I was kinda on a Card Captor Sakura bender today.  It’s a bit like eating a whole bag of truffles at once.  I feel vaguely ill now so I shall go to bed and have cute dreams.

not never, but certainly late

It seems amidst the peculiar paths and whizzings and crunchings of my semi-functional mind is a characteristic that is as baffling as it is annoying; namely, that of simply not doing something.  Now you’d think that this is an ordinary sort of procrastination, but the fact is it’s more of a reluctance to take some, any sort, of action; that once a project, no matter now small, is on my agenda, if it does not get done instantly, there is afterwards a sort of magnetic field that keeps me from doing it for no reason whatsoever other than – well that’s just it, if I could put a name to it I might be able to get over it.  This results in simple tasks, sometimes a matter of minutes, and of considerable importance at that, occasionally being put off for years.

Sometimes an important date is sufficient to overcome this inertia; sometimes that date has to come and go for three years first.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that I have at last updated the virtual museum page for my mother’s life and art, with the biographical texts.  Shame on me; there’s no excuse for it taking this long.

Anyway, here it is.  Go read.

hit the trail

This week at last we have snow!  I don’t think I’ve looked forward to snow more since anytime my age was in double digits.  I wasn’t for a while, but getting into December without skiing was making me pretty antsy.  Oddly, parts north still have virtually none, so quite a few people from the city are coming down to the trails at Burwalde and Shannondale to ski.

Yesterday was the first day I could make it out, and of course I didn’t go far; in fact, one round of the 1km inner loop (the outer loop isn’t groomed yet) was quite plenty.  According to the very clear messages from my feet and ankles, I was not prepared, at all.  It’s OK though, I have all winter.  My goal by winter’s end is to be able to do a 20km ski without feeling like it’s the last thing I’ll do.

So there still hasn’t been an anime review post – to tell the truth I think I’ll end up leaving that to those who are a great deal better at it than I could hope to be, such as Ghostlightning.  However what I will do from time to time is to append a few brief thoughts to the regular posts, and today I’ll mention a few thoughts about Canaan.  I wasn’t too sure I wanted to watch this but then I heard that Type-Moon was involved so I had to give it a go, and I’m glad I did.  This, on the surface, is a pretty standard girls-with-guns show in the tradition of Noir and others – in fact, it does remind one quite a bit of Noir in some ways, with less Old Europe and more implausible superpowers (which somehow don’t detract from the show at all and in fact blend very seamlessly with a strong plot).  There’s a great deal of very well-animated action, but that isn’t what you’ll remember about this show.  Indeed it isn’t about the action at all, but about some remarkable characters and, in particular, two unlikely but powerful and superbly written relationships.  The characters, despite occasionally requiring a considerable suspension of disbelief (which you are only too happy to grant them, so warm, human, and interesting they are), have a tremendous amount of depth and development.  True that the plot occasionally stretches slightly into the realm of the eyebrow-raising, but since you’re seeing it all through the eyes of these very real people, you hardly pay it any mind.  The tragic Hakko especially is unlikely to ever be forgotten, even though she speaks perhaps a dozen lines at most throughout the show.  While it could easily have been a very dark story, the strength and hope that the characters find in themselves and each other is a shining light.  There’s a fair bit of comic relief too, usually well placed and not overdone.

I don’t find a great deal of attraction in flashy animation, huge mecha or magic or the like, but I’m a sucker for a virtuoso performance on the part of the screenwriters, and therefore Canaan gets my enthusiastic recommendation.

a nice surprise

So, this is not an anime review, nor is it a Sunday post – it can’t be, because today is Monday.

Good thing no one reads this blog!

Today was the first day for archery club.  I’d never been before, so I called ahead to confirm the time and place.  Yes, it was at the arena at 7:00, but don’t bother being too punctual, no one else is.  OK, fair enough.  So I left for Morden around ten till seven, and got to the arena.  Abe had said to use the south entrance.  It had been a few years since I was there, and things had changed a fair bit, but for the life of me I could find no such thing as a south entrance.  After searching around for a while I decided to call back to Abe’s and see if I could get a clue or two.  “You’re in Winkler right?” Errrr… “OK, so that’s probably my biggest problem right now…”  Hightailed it back to Winkler and found it no worries.  Funny how being in the right town helps.

I walked in and found a very casual bunch indeed.  A few people were shooting, but most were sitting around swapping hunting stories.  This, I found, would continue the whole evening.  Since I had no hunting stories, I decided to just watch the people at the line for a while to get some enlightenment on form, but most of them were shooting compounds with releases (get a gun, seriously what’s the point), so I didn’t get a lot out of that.  There was one new guy getting some instruction, and he was shooting a longbow, so I ambled over to that end to listen in; at which point he promptly left.  Ah well.  Sat around for a while and talked to one of the other guys for a bit, and then when the crowd was a little thinner – there were more people there than I expected – I decided to step up to the line and see how much damage I could do to the net.

It had been well over a year since I shot last, and at that point I’d only been shooting for one summer, so I was fully expecting to be terribly terrible.  This, however, proved not to be the case – well, OK, in fairness it was; but, not nearly as bad as I’d expected.  At one point I even shot a tighter group than Abe did, which I was pretty smug about.  That lasted until he got warmed up and was putting his arrows within two inches of each other!

I must have shot for nearly an hour all told, but once my form started to waver badly I decided to call it a night.  Over that time I only missed the target once, due to the string hitting my bracer, and usually put the arrows in an 18 inch group or so.  Not good, certainly, but not bad either for a very rusty novice.  I am now very much looking forward to greatly improving over the winter, and once spring comes I’ll get a target set up in the back yard and without any doubt I will be wearing out bulls-eyes by summer’s end 😉

gomen ne?

Missed two Sunday updates in a row … inexcusable really.  First one I just forgot (was @ cousins’ place), second, … let’s not talk about that one.

I think I feel an anime review post coming on.  Or maybe something totally different.  Anyway next Sunday shall have a post no doubt.

miscellany again

Sold the truck finally.  Had to deliver it to Kenora.  Totally worth it.

Now I have to get another one 🙁 It’s totally different though when you don’t have any significant money stuck into it.

Today I took some advantage of the unseasonable warmth and got a good road ride in on the GT.  The rest of the day was spent finishing Samurai Deeper Kyo …

I was hoping to have a link to post here that’s been three years in coming, but as usual I procrastinated it again.  Maybe tomorrow.

With posts like this it’s a good thing no one actually reads this blog.

the creaking machinery

… has reluctantly begun to move again.  Gears mesh and groan, shafts grind and twirl, bearings screech, steam erupts from my ears – OK fine, it isn’t quite that dramatic, but the news is that I’ve seriously started Japanese study again after a too-long period of benign (?) neglect.  (Is there such a thing?)

Two factors conspired to create this happy state of affairs.  First was the fact that at the new job I have an hour lunch break and I decided that rather than spend an (additional) hour goofing off on the ‘net, I’d use the time for something useful.  I began with my main study book (Japanese For Everyone – highly recommended) but soon found that I was burning out on it yet again, perhaps because of the limited time I had during my break.  So then the second factor came into play, and that was my iPod Touch.  I would never have purchased such a thing, being way too cheap, but having had some good luck at the company Christmas do I got one for free (thanks John!).  It turns out I don’t use it for music much, but for small applications it’s a wonderful portable computer with some unique advantages – mainly, the touchscreen.  I had a look around and as it happened there has been a felicitous intersection of talent between iPhone developers and Japanese instructors.  These are the apps I mainly use.

For vocabulary I settled on Japanese Flip.  This is the app I use the most.  It’s almost addictive!  The app divides the vocabulary you will learn into five lists; untested, new, recent, old, and ancient.  As you correctly identify the meanings of the word flashcards, it moves it into an older list.  If you’ve been struggling with a word, it’ll require you to get it right more times before it moves it.  Sometimes it’ll test you from the recent list, less frequently from the old list, and once you’ve correctly answered a question from the old list it will move the word to the ancient list which you won’t see again until all the words in the set are mastered.  The lists it comes with are the standard JLPT lists, which you’d think are too big to deal with, but it simply chooses a random selection and then keeps the new list at 29 or 30 words.  The AI could use a little improvement, and of course the addition of sound files would be a massive improvement (at a massive cost of time and no doubt price of the app), but as it is it is simple and highly effective.

As a classroom replacement I have found Human Japanese to be exceptionally well done.  There are forty lessons (I think – I don’t have it in front of me) and I’m up to lesson fifteen.  So far it’s been mostly review but I expected that.  Should be getting into new material fairly soon.  It has plenty of interactivity and the text is written in such a tone that you can imagine a friendly teacher giving you a private lesson.  The cultural notes provide additional interest.

And lastly for my favourite part of this fascinating language, I really enjoy Kanji LS Touch.  I never thought I’d find a replacement for King Kanji but this is definitely it.  There are still some details to be ironed out though.  The latest update added the ability to import your own sets of kanji, which is invaluable if you are following a book as I am.  But it’s an awkward process, requiring the creation of text files that have to be in precisely the right format and encoding, and requiring access to a webspace.  Overall though, it’s a simply brilliant program.  I liked it so much that I also purchased the kana version, even though no one should need an app to learn kana.

In addition, I also installed the Kotoba dictionary program, which looks like it’s very nicely done, but to tell the truth I’ve almost not used it at all.   I used to use the Dokusha dictionary a fair bit on Palm devices, but mostly for the flashcard sets you could make and study in it, and that function is now achieved better by Japanese Flip.

The highly interactive approach to learning afforded by these different apps has, I must say, reignited my enthusiasm for Japanese study.  So much more than using my lunch break for study, often enough I find myself flipping through flashcards long after I should have been asleep at night.  Results have been steady and encouraging.  Watching anime is more enjoyable the more of it you can understand (although some fansubbers’ approach to translation results in more confusion if you understand half the dialogue than if you understood none of it!).  I’m now seriously planning to go through the JLPT tests as I near completion of the vocabulary set for the first test.

the same only wetter

The big story this week was that after (large quantity) years, I finally got my scuba certification.

Now my ears hurt.

However; since I just got back a little while ago from the lake and I’m that tired that I don’t even fully know myself how tired I am, a full post on this will have to wait.  Not long though!  I’ll also see if I can get some photos and maybe even video out of Paul.

Off for zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz