Sunday, 24 January 2010

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"kenshuu" 研修 which means "training".  Adding "suru" after it turns it into a verb....

Though this doesn't refer exactly to training in the exercise sense, more like the practicing of a skill.  For example, the training I did as an intern in Japan (although that does have an exercise element to it).

Another example is the practicum I'll be doing, which is another form of "training".  I'll be there, "training", from January 25th til April 16th.  And during that time, I'll be taking on Science 9, Science 10, and Biology 11.

The normal long practicum ends May 7th but for me, after April 16th sees me shift my practicum to Science World where 9 students have been accepted to take part in the "Extended Practicum Beyond the Classroom Option" (EPBCO) which allows me the chance to not only broaden my teaching skills to environments different from a traditional classroom, but also to students of all ages.  Essentially we'll be teaching Science World's special "school field trip" classes for the three weeks while we're there.  There'll be things from teaching kindergarteners about roller coaster to teaching high school students about "Grossology" (like what boogers are made of and such).

There's also two other similar programs at the Aquarium and the HR Macmilan Space Centre.

Fun fun but I'll have to put on my best while I'm on practicum so.......  here goes =P

Oh, and if you haven't heard of Science World, here's a picture of it.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"nichiyoudaiku" 日曜大工 which means "Do It Yourself", like DIY.  And so goes the theme for this weekend.

The first real "DIY"-y thing I did was swap out my winter tires for my summer ones.  Despite all the ominous warnings people have given me, this past winter has been pretty mild.  One day of snow (when the snow tires did actually help... a lot) and just lots of low temps.  Winter tires, aside from working well in the snow, also are made of rubber better suited to cold temps but this past week it's high 10+ degrees so...  really...  there's no point anymore heh......

But the big news this past weekend was that I put a hole in my wall!  But perhaps some context first...

Ever since Japan, I've been using my laptop as my computer and it's spent its entire two year time with me sitting on a desk with its battery removed.  It worked great in Japan because it was essentially a temporary stay so it was fine for all my needs.  But having moved back, I've been considering on and off about switching to a real PC.  As usual, cost being the thing that turns me off about the idea.

(Sorry about the picture quality, I just snapped a pic from my point-and-shoot)

But this past week, a friend offered up his two year old, yet built-with-premium-parts PC for a great deal.  And thus began my search to piece together a desktop on the cheap.  I'm pretty happy to say I managed to piece together the whole thing with used items.  And it's all pretty good stuff too.

Best of all, when I sell my laptop, it would work out that I've spent about $100 total on switching to a more powerful desktop PC.

The only problem came when I had to hook it up to the internet.  With the router being in the room next to mine and my desire to not run on wireless anymore, I decided the best (line-speed and cost wise) solution would be to drill a hole between the rooms and run a cable through it.  Simple enough...

So, I borrowed a stud finder and drill, measured twice, and drilled once.  For reasons unknown to me, I was off by about 1/8 inch but by taping the cable to a wire coat hanger, I passed it through.

That sounds easy but it doesn't take into account having to pull my bed out, clear out the other room's closet, drilling, test fitting the wire, hunting for the mis-matched holes, discovering I had bought a cable that was too short (seriously, I did haha), buying another cable, and then putting the two rooms back together.

DIY indeed =P...  and it was pretty fun actually....  except for the part when the wire pulled taut and I was still about 5ft from the router...  that kinda sucked haha....

But, it paid off.  As you can see below.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"kigatsuku" 気が付く which, according to the dictionary means "notice" or "become aware of".  Although I seem to have been using a slightly different word which now makes me wonder if there's another way of saying it or people have just been nodding in agreement to avoid having to converse with the weird foreigner...

Anyway, two things I've noticed this past week:

1- Lead By Example
On Friday at karate, I had a cramp in my calf muscle a bit and was relegated to standing and commenting for the better part of the second class.  Normally when I teach, I try to be as active as possible, both for myself (as exercise) and for the students (as a model for the movements).  And normally I never have issues with students being distracted and unfocussed (aside from the really young students).

But on Friday, the teenagers in the second class were noticeably more distractable, something which I attributed to the fact that I wasn't as able to circulate to be more "among them" nor could I really demonstrate the things I was trying to explain.  Then, towards the end of the class and my muscle relaxed enough that I could start doing things again, their behaviour improved.

A robot I am not, but this really does prove to me (yet again) that I really need to keep it up within myself if I want my students to keep it up within themselves.

2- Smell & Taste
Our sense of smell and sense of taste are linked, that much we know is true.

But today I realised that, in Cantonese, the commonly used word for smell is exactly the same as the word for taste.  Of course, there are other ways of saying smell and taste but the common word can be found in both still.


Sunday, 3 January 2010

Your Japanese word of the week is...

"akeome" あけおめ which is really just a shortened form of 明けましておめでとう which functionally means "Happy New Year!!" And I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season.

For me, 2010 represents the real-world test of the past few years of prep. I'll be finishing school then looking for work and Pacific Spirit Wado Kai will be growing its student base and technical level. A lot (actually, almost all) of what I've been doing the past few years have led up to this point and while it's certainly not the end, everyone likes a good start =)

Besides that, I said last week that I'd try to put up some HDR's of the Festival Of Lights pics but for some reason they weren't turning out that well. Instead, I've just tone mapped two of them.

The last thing for the first post of 2010 is a look at Popular Science's Best Of What's New 2009.  It's inevitable that everyone thinks technology can't possibly improve ("Something better than a telegram?!  Impossible" or if you've seen Avatar), it's a great look at what kinds of things are in store for the future.  Understandly, a lot of these are hideously expensive but in a few years time, they'll be more ubiquitous and affordable.  Best of all, some of these things are simply new approaches to old solutions to prove that old dogs can indeed learn new tricks.
Here are my top 5 from their list of 100.
No really.  It's a rollable sheet of Kevlar sandwiched by elastic polymer with an adhesive backing so you can literally stick it to your wall.  Developed along with the US Army, it withstands impacts and helps keep walls intact after impacts.  While it does say bombproof, it could very easily be applied to homes in hurricane threatened areas not only to add structural strength, but to help keep debris out.

A rather simple yet effective way of managing traffic flow, this intersection was put into place this past year in Missouri and it not only reduced the number of traffic accidents, it sped up the flow.  It works by switching the traffic lanes at the overpass (see the two X's on either side of the green highway).  This allows cars to both exit and enter the highway without having to make left turns across an opposing lane.  After the overpass, the lanes switch back and it's traffic as normal.
Humans see in 3D because we have two eyes each seeing a slightly different image.  The brain puts these images together to sense depth and it's this depth perception that creates a 3D image.  This camera take 3D pictures by using two lenses and image sensors spaced 3 inches apart, mimicking human eyes.  It can even playback images on the screen in 3D by flashing the images separately to each eye.  Then there's 3D picture frames and computer software (with or without 3D glasses) so you can show them to your friends...

A refreshing break from the skyscraper race, the CCTV building is a neat architectural design.  Conceived as a continuous shape (there's another L shaped corner on the ground pointed away from us), it's an amazing engineering feat to build.  Built in an area threatened by earthquakes, the problem was not producing a building strong enough (which would shake itself apart), but rather strategically weak enough to dissipate earthquake forces (so it sways like an antenna) yet still strong enough to hold up the shape.  The result is the diamond lattice structure where the number of numbers is higher in areas that require lots of strength and lesser in areas that don't.  Then they made it visible for an attractive form following function design.
PS- This image, being an HDR shot of the CCTV building, fills my promise of something HDR in this post heh...
In Google's bid to take over the world, they've reinvented nearly everything and then made it accessible to all, by all.  With Wave, they've taken online communication and merged it all into one interface.  Part email, part instant messaging, part document sharing, each wave is an open conversation where users can contribute seemlessly.  Start a new wave, invite the friends you want to speak with, and type in an email.  If they're offline, they can read it later; if they're online, they can response in real time messaging even responding to specific parts of the message.  Invite friends to join later and they're immediately privy to the entire wave, with a playback feature that shows the history of changes (much like Adobe's Buzzword).  It's even hooked up to Blogger (since Google owns Blogger) and you can posted pictures directly from your wave and then comments will show up instantly.  They've also made it open source so it will continue to expand as people develop new applications for it.
The most impressive part is that they've made all this work real time.  Type and people can watch you type letter by letter, so there's no waiting and wondering.  Even picture thumbnails show up instantly.
I'm not a big fan of being plugged in all the time (I loathe people who constantly text unrelated crap despite being at dinner with their friends), but I do love the streamlining of all the various communications type into one interface.
So thanks for reading this past 2009 and keep checking back in 2010 =)