Happy New Year! (Japan time)

Yes, it is still December 31st in Canada, but it’s already January 1st in Japan. Happy New Year!

As I wrote in the previous post, I made a Christmas greetings web site for my Canadian friends. It’s been slightly modified and now it is a New Year’s Day greetings site for my Japanese family, relatives and friends. Sending New Year’s Day greeting cards is Japanese tradition, just like sending Christmas cards in Western countries. Here is the illustration from the web site.

Happy New Year 2014, the Year of the Horse

2014 is the year of the Horse, so I combined Christmas and the horse to make this illustration. Daikoku Santa Claus, sitting on bales of rice, rides a chuck wagon to bring fortune to everyone. He is Calgarian!

Wish everyone good luck for the year 2014.

December 31, 2013Permalink

Wherever I was… But…

As I wrote in an old post a year ago, I always make my family’s traditional New Year’s Day dish, 正月の煮物, wherever I am. But for the New Year’s Day next year (3 days from today), I cannot make it… I will have to work on Mon. 30th and Tue. 31st, which means I will have no time to make it. This is very disappointing…

Though I cannot do that yearly event, I have done another annual event recently: making my own Christmas greetings web site with an original illustration of the year. I made my first greetings web site in 2010, and have made it yearly since then. This year, too, I made it, and sent invitation (URL, user name and password. It is my private message and password protected) to my Canadian friends on Christmas Day. I will post the illustration on Jan. 1st. It will be my New Year’s Day greetings web site for my Japanese friends.

When I lived in Calgary, the landlord invited me to their Christmas dinner. On New Year’s Day, I shared my 正月の煮物 with them. They told me that having my 正月の煮物 became an annual event for them. This year I sent them and other friends invitation email to my Christmas greetings web site. Some of them replied to tell me that they always enjoy my annual greetings web site.

Wherever I am, whatever it is, it’s good to have a yearly event to connect with my friends.

December 29, 2013Permalink

Memory of Mess

The freezing rain in Southern Ontario last weekend changed many things. Tree branches coated with a thick clear layer of ice look incredibly beautiful especially around sunset. But the same phenomenon on something else left a big problem for a huge number of people in the region; some power lines were down because of a heavy thick layer of ice. It’s been five days since the ice storm, but thousands of people are still living without power.

In an early post, I wrote about scenery and seasonal food; autumn leaves even in Canada remind me of some seasonal Japanese food. In another early post, I wrote about a strange connection between a natural disaster and my childhood memories; a typhoon (or hurricane) evokes memories of chestnuts. A day after the ice storm, I drove in the city and witnessed what the natural disaster left. Unlike the memory of typhoon and chestnuts, it was more straightforward. When I saw traffic lights turned off, I remembered the mess after the massive earthquake that hit Eastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

It even evoked the emotion at the time. I quit a job a day before the earthquake. A job interview had been scheduled soon after that, but it was cancelled because of the mess after the earthquake. It was the start of helpless job hunting. TV news revealed the severe, unbelievable reality in the disaster areas day by day. I felt completely helpless. It is surprising to find that even a small event, turned-off traffic lights, can evoke such emotion. It was probably the combination of the scenery and the current situation. As I wrote in a previous post, I got a new temporary job, which means that until recently I had been unemployed. The manager of the current work place told me that he expects me to work for a long term, but nothing is guaranteed. Probably a glimpse of the mess after a natural disaster combined with the current unstable situation evoked the emotion.

Today I went boxing day shopping. After buying some nice shirts, although they were discounted, I thought “can I really afford them?” Income often hides unwanted reality. Now I have a job, have income, but it is still unstable and, above all, it is not a job that I want. I’m still a looser. I should remember hungry spirit as I wrote in an old post a year ago.

December 26, 2013Permalink

Charity is actually NOT ONLY for other people

In an old post, I wrote “charity is not only for other people”. Please read the old post for the story of Tohoku (North-East Japan) and the town of Hakone. To make a long story short, the town of Hakone decided to help Tohoku because they know that they will need help from other regions in the future. If you need help (or even if you don’t need help), it’s better to help other people.

According to this Japanese internet article, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces sent a team of medical professionals to the Philippines. Many of the members are from Tohoku, the region that the earthquake and tsunami hit on May 11, 2011. The chief of the medical team said that they want to help the survivors from the viewpoint of sufferers using their experience. They know what it is like to be helped by other people after a horrible natural disaster. They help people because they have been helped by other people. I am proud of their 東北魂 (North-East Japan spirit).

As I wrote in another previous post, many people help each other when they suffer natural disaster. As I wrote “many people”, not “everyone” acts like that during and after natural disaster. But I still want to believe helping each other is the nature of human beings.

November 24, 2013Permalink

Suddenly, I got a temporary daytime job.

Right after the terrible job interview with a terrible company where I was asked “how old are you?” as I wrote in the previous post, the recruiting agency told me about another job at a Japanese company in Mississauga. A week after, I was hired as a temporary employee for a month. Unlike the terrible one who seemed to have known they would not hire me before meeting me, the current company knew they would hire me before meeting me. Surprisingly, they hired me without a job interview. They, of course, had heard about me from the recruiting agency, and this is only a temporary job. But it was unexpected. When things happen, they could happen like this.

Yes, things are happening. But for this time, perhaps I should not just let things happen but might need to make things happen as I hope. The point will be what I hope. Probably my hope will be different from my wish. I have a few weeks to think of it. Anyway, let’s see how the looser will fail.

By the way, my first impression of the current company is not bad. It is at least better than the previous one in Orillia. This does not mean that there is no problem, but the difference between the current one and the previous one is that people in the current work place seem to recognize that there are problems. Having problems is one problem, and not recognizing it is another, rather more disastrous problem.

November 23, 2013Permalink

Is this a rule? If so, it’s so silly.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I had a job interview yesterday. It was terrible. It looked like they had known they would not hire me before they met me. It’s a Japanese company, and there ware five interviewers: one Canadian HR manager, two Canadian executives, one Japanese executive, and one young Japanese kid. The HR kept smiling at me, the Canadian executives looked very reluctant and only asked ordinary questions like “what did you learn at school?”, and what the Japanese ones technically did was asking questions, but those “questions” ware actually messages to me that they would not hire me. I like harsh questions because answering harsh questions is a good chance to show my ability. But their questions ware not harsh but mean. Why the hell did it happen?

It all makes sense if I suppose in this way; there is a rule in that Japanese company that they have to interview a certain number of candidates to hire one person, and I was not selected as one based on my resume. The HR knew it, felt bad to me, and kept smiling at me to make me feel less bad. The Canadian executives knew it, knew that the interview would only waste their time and that they had to do it because it was decided by Japanese executives, and ware so reluctant. The Japanese ones knew it, and since they are typical bossy Japanese bosses, they gave me mean messages. I don’t know. But it makes sense anyway. Typical Japanese people love to make rules to show that they are rule followers.

I really don’t know. But if that’s the rule, it’s so silly. They wasted their time, I wasted my time and gasoline (it’s in Palmerston and takes 1.5 hours drive one way), and above all, they made a very very bad image of the company. Even if it was not the rule, what makes them ask mean questions? As I mentioned, I like harsh questions, but there is a big difference between “harsh” and “mean”.

How mean? When the Japanese executive started his turn, he said “英語で訊けない事があるので日本語で話します (I should not ask those questions in English, so I ask in Japanese)”, and asked me “お歳はいくつですか (How old are you)?” HOW OLD ARE YOU??? Is this the first question in a job interview? No way! He asked the question knowing that it’s against the Canadian rule. Now I think I should have answered that question in English so that every Canadian there would know it.

In an old post, I wrote “charity is not for people”. If you do good things to people, those people will do good things to other people, and eventually someone else will do a good thing to you. Charity is not only for other people but also for yourself. The opposite is also true. If you do bad things to other people, it will eventually result in something bad for you. But that seems their corporate culture.

Another Japanese proverb goes “see people’s behavior and correct yours”. I should use this experience as an opportunity to learn. What mean things do I do to other people? How do I make other people feel terrible? What could it result in? They seem to have given me a good lesson.

November 15, 2013Permalink

Things are happening. Let’s see.

As I often write, I cannot predict my future as I wish. So, as I wrote in a previous post, now I let things happen. As a result, things are happening.

Yesterday I had a job interview for a freelance job. This is very unusual. As a freelance translator, I have worked for many clients and translation companies. Most of them are outside of Canada, and I do not expect to see them in person. This is what freelance translation job is typically like. But a translation company in downtown Toronto invited me for an interview for a freelance job after reviewing my trial translation, which means I am qualified. First, I was confused, and then after talking with them, I was impressed. They have a unique style. Though they cannot tell how often they will assign translation or interpretation jobs to me (which is quite understandable), I expect it would be interesting job opportunities. We’ll see.

Today I got a phone call from a recruiting agency. Unlike typical recruiting agencies as I wrote in a previous post or in another old post, they are reliable (the only reliable one so far). They have arranged a job interview for a full-time position. It is not an ideal job, but I need a decent full-time job anyways. I’ll visit a company the day after tomorrow.

Besides those remarkable events, I got some messages about freelance jobs from prospective clients in last couple of days. Things are happening. Whether they are typical freelance job, interesting freelance job, or decent full-time job, what I can do is to do my best and wait. Let’s keep letting things happen. We’ll see.

As I wrote in an old post about a year ago, apparently I am a loser. Let’s see how a loser will fail.

November 12, 2013Permalink

Benefits of being bilingual

According to today’s news, one of the benefits of being bilingual has been scientifically examined as described in this internet news: Brain scans show being bilingual can delay Alzheimer’s. This is not surprising for me because I know, of course, that being bilingual requires high level brain activities. It is good to know it has been scientifically studied.

This story reminds me of a president of a micro company in Japan that I worked for. He was around 60 then, assumed he was smart, assumed he was bilingual, and he suffered dementia. You may think I am exaggerating something, but it’s true. He suffered dementia and still served as a president. It was a micro company. Anyways. As the internet news says, being bilingual cannot prevent dementia. It delays the process. One could conclude that his brain was severely damaged but the symptom was not as severe as monolinguals whose brain is equally damaged. But for me it’s more natural to conclude that he was not truly bilingual. Actually his “English” sounded like Japanese and he did not recognize it. Without recognizing it, there is no way to correct it.

When FIFA word cup was held in Japan in 2002, a German player caught people’s attention due to his wild behavior. Despite of his acts on the field, according to some sources, he is a smart guy. He knew he would not make a living as an athlete for many years, and while he was one of the world best soccer players, he studied economics to prepare for his life after retirement as an athlete. I was impressed. Unlike his case, few people can prepare for their life after retirement as a brain worker (I’m not talking about something like pension plan). What we can try is to work longer as a brain worker. The president described above knew that he could not judge things properly, but did not admit that. Instead, he tried hard to find and point out people’s mistakes to show that he is smarter than other people, which never worked out. This is not what people should do.

Fortunately I like learning. It seems that there are lots of opportunities to abuse my brain to delay dementia. I know my English is still to be improved. So is design skill. Let’s keep learning to increase more job opportunities and also to work longer as a brain worker.

November 7, 2013Permalink

Happy Birthday, BoA!

Today I had cake. Why? Because it’s BoA’s birthday today!

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday Dear BoA!

It was a year ago when I wrote about BoA in an old post. I have not met her in person, of course. She is a celebrity. But somehow she has been special for me over a decade. She debuted in Japan when I lived in the Kingdom of Tonga. At that time, we did not have YouTube, (actually I had neither telephone nor internet access at home. It’s a small developing country) and I did not know what was going on in Japan’s music world. When I came back to Japan in December 1999 and saw her on TV, I did not know she was Korean, and did not know “BoA” was her name; I thought she was a vocalist of a band named BoA. In the following year, when I watched her video clip, Jewel Song, I was shocked.

Can a person sing that beautifully?

She is beautiful, and her singing is even more beautiful. As I wrote in the old post, I want to believe that she sings beautifully because she sings from her heart. Anyways, she and her singing have been somehow special for me since then.

In an interview, she thanked fans of her and said “because there is me, there are fans of me. Because there are fans of me, there is me.” She sings for her fans. When I am lost, I often recall her words. What do I do for what, or for whom? As I often write, I am looking for a full-time job and do freelance jobs to survive. I am lost. I may need some time to sit back, listen to BoA’s songs, and rethink what I really need for what.

By the way, before I started writing this blog post, I shuffle played my “BoA palyer” that contains songs from all original albums and other major singles. The first song that the player randomly chose out of 197 songs was Happy Birthday. Like I wrote in a previous post, I dare not to conclude anything, whether it was coincidence or something else. But something may happen on a special day, right?

November 5, 2013Permalink

Efficiency revisited

In an old post, I wrote about efficiency. A person with terrible personality persistently told me to use electric coffee “grinder”, which is actually a coffee chopper, instead of my manual coffee grinder because electric one is “efficient”. She mixed up efficient and quick (and dirty), and ignored quality. You might think “is electric coffee grinder dirty?” Yes, it is. The quality of “grinding” is low and it generates nasty noise. On the other hand, using a manual coffee grinder itself is fun. She does not understand people have different preference and different standard, and always tries to force other people to do things in her way.

There is difference between efficient and quick. There is also difference between efficient and effective. According to Longman, effective meas “producing the result that was wanted or intended” [1], and efficient means “a person, machine, or organization that is efficient works well and effectively without wasting time, money, or energy” [1]. If people mix them up, it could result in something awkward.

According to an internet article, Rights groups challenge U.S. on drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, many innocent people in those countries have been killed by the U.S. government using remotely piloted aircraft, or drones. I originally found an article about this in Japanese, and I was very shocked. The Japanese internet article says that the U.S. presidential press secretary said “the U.S. anti-terrorism operations are accurate, legal, and efficient” (translated by me). Is killing terrorists involving innocent people’s death efficient??? I looked for an article that describes this issue in English, and found the CNN article. According to CNN, the U.S. government “said drones would be deployed only when there is an imminent threat, no hope of capturing the targeted terrorist, ‘near certainty’ that civilians wouldn’t be harmed and ‘no other governments capable of effectively addressing the threat.'” [2] This still does not justify their killing innocent people (first of all, even killing terrorists is still debatable), but at least they did not mention efficiency in killing people.

Why did this mistranslation happen? I sent a message to the Japanese newspaper publisher a few days ago and still waiting for their reply (and do not expect their reply). For now, let’s put their mistranslation aside and talk about something general. The person with terrible personality mentioned above is obviously extreme, but many other people may not clearly distinguish between efficient and quick, or efficient and effective in some degree. It may happen because they do not clarify “intended result”; in the former case, whether the intended result is whatever coffee or enjoyable coffee; in the latter case, whether the result is killing terrorism anyway or establishing the peace. We may need to take a moment to sit back and think what we really need.

[1] Longman Group Ltd, Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited, 1995.
[2] CNN, “CNN.com,” 22 10 2013. [Online]. Available: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/10/22/world/asia/us-drone-strikes-reports/index.html?iref=allsearch. [Accessed 23 10 2013].

October 31, 2013Permalink