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December, 2008:

Decoden { part one of many, I’m sure }

So over the course of several hours last night, I re-deco’d my cell phone, and this was the final result:

{ click on the photo to go to its flickr page for a larger view! }

deco'd phone overview top left corner macro left side middle macro bottom left macro bottom macro above buttons macro right bottom macro right side middle macro right side top macro top macro

Decoden glue, still no perfect solution

So far I’ve used two different glues for decoden attempts, and neither was very good.
The first was a silicon glue from Strapya – it didn’t dry too fast, but it was a little puffy around the gems, and eventually peeled off in chunks, thus requiring my need to try another glue.
The second is E-6000, supposedly a pretty versatile strong glue that smells extremely toxic (and is known in California to cause cancer, yet other states don’t know?… confusing statements…) and dries way too fast, even in small patches and is kind of thick.
I’ve ordered an epoxy glue to try out (since apparently that’s what works best? aside from superglue) but I’m afraid it won’t be slow drying enough. I ordered the 30-minute formula, rather than the 5, but the photos were the same…
If you’re wondering why slow drying glue would be better than fast you probably haven’t tried to glue gems to anything before. Unless you have incredibly steady hands, it’s likely that the gems won’t end up exactly where you want them when you place them onto the glue. This means that if it bonded (or set) instantly, you’d be stuck with some pretty lousy workmanship (T△T) but! if the glue sets slowly, that means you have some time to make sure every tiny piece is exactly where you want it. The silicon glue was pretty good with this, but unfortunately in the end it peeled off… (~Д~;)
Hopefully the epoxy will arrive tomorrow so I’ll have some time to redo my phone before travelling (^ o ~)v
I wanted to deco my new headphones too but I have a different idea for them that I want new parts for so I’m not sure…
Most importantly I need to not be sick for this trip! What’s the point in escaping winter weather if you have a cold?( ̄~ ̄)

Warm winter weather, and cleaning

Since today was very unseasonably warm (especially compared to the freaking blizzard we had about a week and a half ago) I took advantage of the windows being open to clean the CatGenie, which I had been putting off.
In the manual, it states that cleaning it every 6 months or so will help maintain performance and is in your best interest. It’s worded very friendly and suggestion-like, so that if you read it, you feel like “well, but if it’s not exactly six months there’s no problem, yeah? and I mean, it cleans itself all the time!”
NO. This is WRONG. 6 months is like the maximum you can wait before it becomes super gross and awful inside. I feel like they should have made this more clear! Haha… but I’m just lazy, it isn’t their fault really. (That’s why I have this thing, right?!)
Recently it stopped working so well, and smelling kind of gross, but with the house closed up I didn’t want to unleash a terrible smell that would never go away… kind of the same logic as keeping rotting food in your refridgerator until garbage day: it won’t rot further, but it’s a bad idea! It ruins everything around it and will just make your life more and more miserable. And what if you forget to take it out with the garbage?! You’re stuck with it for another long period of time… (@_@)
Well anyway, I really put it off and paid for it just now D: The inside was disgusting! I don’t even know how it happened! There was a bunch of cat hair which I guess I should have expected but I think my cats don’t shed as heavily as some so I don’t think about it much…
Seeing it like that, I almost thought “a normal litterbox is better than this!! at least it doesn’t get so disgusting…” but that isn’t true – you have to wash those just as often if not more often, you just can’t see how icky it’s getting. Not to mention the clumping litter is a pain in the ass to deal with, compared with reusable granules. So in the end, it’s worth it. I just have to not forget to clean the damn thing more often. I’m sure if I did, it wouldn’t be so awful each time.
I was hoping I could clean up my room, just sorting and organizing things I mean, but this was probably a better use of my time. No, it definitely was.

Moral of the story: CLEAN YOUR DAMN CATGENIE FREQUENTLY OR SUFFER THE DISGUSTING CONSEQUENCES!

Decoden fukubukuro report!

So as you may or may not have known, Strapya had decoden specific fukubukuros this year. And, being the huge sucker that I am for fukubukuros, I bought four.

You read that right.

I couldn’t resist! ~$10/ea for supposedly $60 worth of stuff? Yes please! And it turned out to all be completely cute stuff, too! Everything from pink rhinestones in four different shades and a huge range of sizes to plasticky 3D roses and cloth ribbons. There were even some star-shaped rhinestones (★) and heart-shaped ones (♥)!

I tried to take some photos of my haul before I ripped open the packaging to sort them into my cylindrical bead containers but they aren’t the best quality because I was impatient and all the packaging was shiny and sparkly… haha! XD

デコデン福袋内容01 デコデン福袋内容02 デコデン福袋内容03 デコデン福袋内容04 デコデン福袋内容05

I spent a good couple hours arranging all of that out of packaging into neat little containers (which I will take pictures of tomorrow… I should really get to bed once I’m done writing, it’s become 3am while I wasn’t looking..). Why bother doing that? Well, for one because I love to have things organized (although you wouldn’t know that by looking at my room right now, it’s crazy messy atm) but also when I plan on decorating my stuff, I want to be able to KNOW what I have and HOW much of each thing and easily configure a lovely design :D In order to fit all of these new sparklies, I bought some new containers from JoAnn’s – they have this cylinder screw-top container set that comes in a nice case with pink clasps. It’s very round and cute and easy to see everything quickly.

Also, seems almost identical to the one this decoden artist had on Tokyo Kawaii TV….

Speaking of, I’m so sad my old source on Veoh stopped uploading this show! Well, rather than that, their account was suspended?! NHK, if you don’t want people uploading your stuff on Veoh without your consent, just upload it yourself! Even add commercials, I don’t care, I want to watch! I am finding episodes here and there but it’s not reliable ( > >) Before, I wanted to go back to Japan for the phones. Now I want the TV shows?! { But not really, because if I was there I probably wouldn’t watch so much since I’d be living the trends instead of gazing longingly from afar~~ }

On a related note, in the past I’d been offered to try to live in Singapore (so would be close to Japan) but I said it was not good enough and I’m glad I did! So many stories about icky lizards and bugs… I guess if you live somewhere warm it’s inevitable. Living here, where it gets deadly cold, not so much survives year round, especially bugs. >D But still, I hate the cold. { Although I just made myself a choc chip milkshake… and am now shivering, seriously. But I love milkyshakes ♥ } Sure, we have mice, but we also have kitties who help me catch the mices >D

So now I will plan out everything I want to cover in gems and get back to you once I’ve decorated something :D

Snow, and lots of it

So right after power was returned to the lands of the northeast, they were buried in snow. About a foot and a half, I would guess. Not exactly spectacular, although it does fulfill someone’s wish of a “White Christmas.”

You wouldn’t know it was going to be Christmas soon here, though. Could be any day in winter. No decorations, no lights or a tree, no Christmas movies from childhood playing on the television. I don’t know, I haven’t really bothered, I guess? It’s hard when no one around you seems to feel interested in the season. It’s just weather, or stress, or the economy or something.

There’s always something.

Fukubukuro are still exciting though the season for that doesn’t really start until closer to January. At least, that’s when they’ll shop up on yahoo!Japan auctions anyway. I preordered a bunch from Liz Lisa but there are other brands I’m contemplating. I wish the fukubukuro didn’t have coats in them, though. I can’t ever fit into Japanese sized coats because of my shoulders. Bone structure doesn’t change, even when you lose weight. I would say that’s sad, but honestly it would just be weird. Your whole body would shift around as a result (@_@)

Still using the kanji DS software, making good progress. About 13% now, which is only 400~ characters but I’m trying to get 100% on each reading and writing lesson.

美文字トレーニング & 大人の漢字練習

Let me start this post by first reminding any new readers of my Japanese language background: I have a BA in Japanese Language and I spent four months living in 千葉市, 千葉県, Japan. I have yet to take a JLPT, but if I had to guess I’d say I could probably pass 2級 without too much trouble right now, if I prepared for the test (as frequently knowing the format for such things is just as important as knowing the material). The main reason I haven’t taken one yet is mostly because I keep forgetting to register in time, and the closest test location to me is in NYC where I do not live.
However, I do plan on taking the JLPT 1級, the hardest level, in December 2009 for two reasons:

  • 1. My theory is, if I study all year, I can get up to 1級 proficiency
  • 2. Beginning in 2010, 1級 will be even harder than it is right now.

With this in mind, I’m making good use of the internet and am continually searching for resources to help me strengthen my weak spots, most notably, kanji literacy.

Today, I’d like to make a quick post about two DS software programs I’m trying out, and my impressions of them so far. The first relates to the image above – 美文字トレーニング | Bimoji Training produced by Nintendo. The purpose of this software is to teach you how to write kanji more beautifully, a side effect of which I hope to be remembering how to write various kanji. It does seem quite good so far, but it appears to fall along the same lines as Brain Age in the sense that this should be daily training – you can only try so many per day. I’d prefer an infinite training mode (and there may be one I haven’t discovered yet) although the feedback you get from writing characters is pretty thorough…. providing you can read the feedback. This is going to be something I will say again and again about using DS software to learn Japanese – most are not made for English speaking learners of Japanese. They are made for the Japanese speaking public to practice with. Beginners will not really benefit from this, and intermediates might need to pull out their dictionary for a while until they learn the general vocabulary used.

The second software has a slightly longer and less obvious name: なぞっておぼえる大人の漢字練習完全版 | Nazotte Oboeru Otona no Kanji Renshuu Kanzenhan, which, simply translated, means “Trace and remember – Adult’s Kanji Practice, Complete Version. This one is more immediately helpful for me, and for any intermediate-advanced learner who lacks kanji knowledge. The kanji are broken down into levels, and sub-levels, so you can test yourself in small chunks of either 読み方(readings) or 書き方(writing), and to graduate each level, you get tested on both, chosen randomly. Since, again, this program is not designed for non-native learners, there are no English definitions, the words and phrases used may not be immediately obvious to foreign learners, but a dictionary and some persistence will earn you both kanji proficiency and a more robust vocabulary.

I imagine the example words and phrases might be obvious and everyday to people living in Japan, but to me many are new. You may be wondering where the “trace” portion is incorporated, and in fact if you aren’t paying attention it might slip by you at first. During revision and initial learning, if you don’t already know how to write a kanji, you can choose to have it give you the answer. After you’ve done this, and before you give the now obvious answer, you can choose to have it show you how you should write the kanji, and, even beyond that, you are given the chance to write it a dozen times over. I think my favorite part of this software is that it allows you to review just the kanji you were unable to read and/or write. This way you can strengthen your weak spots without dragging through reviewing ones you already know!
I’d more highly recommend Otona no Kanji Renshuu to intermediate to advanced learners of Japanese for kanji practice, as readings are more prominent. Bimoji will become more useful after the kanji themselves have been learned.

All the good things

Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing, painting a rosy picture when things were more grey, but the truth isn’t always necessarily so horrible.
So here are some things I loved about living in Japan, and what pushes me to want to go back:

+ health. I was way healthier when I lived in Japan. I walked everywhere, I ate better, I drank more water.
+ social. I actually hung out with people in my free time. I almost never do that in the US. That might have been a product of study abroad but I really hope not. There are friends back there I miss seeing, and I hope I’ll get to spend some time with them.
+ karaoke. I LOVE karaoke and it just does not exist here. I might even go on my own if I have to, embarrassing though it may be. XD
+ shopping. okay, yes, I love shopping and if I do something like eikaiwa I won’t really have the money or space to indulge but just being able to browse is pretty awesome.
+ trains. I adore riding on trains, watching the scenery go by, listening to music. It’s an amazing feeling ? plus, not having to drive places myself? awesome.
+ bookstores. yes, there are Japanese bookstores in the US but none that are near me, so I can’t browse, which I love doing! it’s so hard for me to get into new series without being able to browse (; ^ ;)
+ keitai. this is less strong than it used to be, since I got my Tilt, but Japanese phones can do EVERYTHING and are so cute (* o *)
+ Japanese. what I mean is, the ability to use, increase and maintain my Japanese language knowledge. living there, my competency level shot up. there’s just no substitute. bonus: actually DOING something that (if indirectly) uses my major.

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