On Becoming Able to Interact With People Right When People Interact More With Their Phones

I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, but this made me want to write it down. I don’t have any IKEA furniture so I don’t know if they’re any good, but their commercial sure is hilarious. I love the super serious painter and the tense string music.

I’m not here to lament, necessarily, that people are supposedly losing the ability to communicate face-to-face, that they’re slaves to their screens, or what have you, but rather to share why I feel particularly…ironic? out of place? being toyed with by the Universe? when I find myself in a group of people who are all in their smartphones.

I’ve lived most of my life with relatively little interaction with anyone other than my mother and two brothers, and with us studying/working long hours, sticking to different schedules, moving in and out, etc., sharing a permanent address hasn’t always meant really sharing a life. So basically, I’ve felt alone most of the time.

From childhood’s hour I have not been
As others were—I have not seen
As others saw—I could not bring
My passions from a common spring—
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow—I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone—
And all I lov’d—I lov’d alone—

“The Raven” may have drawn me to Edgar Allen Poe, but “Alone” was the first (and for two decades, the only) work that I could, as they say, “really relate to.” At least up to the part quoted above. He kinda lost me for a bit with the fountain to the red cliff and the mountain but when the demon comes in I think I get it again.

Anyway, as a child, I was never good at starting conversations. I’d talk your ear off once you lent it to me, but I was never the one to ask for it. In 10th grade, at the beginning of the school year, I didn’t know anybody in my lunch hour. Somewhat mortified, I sat down at a table by myself in Old Cass Tech’s huge cafeteria. But I came up with a solution to my problem of being alone: I buried my face in my textbooks as I ate my school lunch, pretending to study. This way, I figured, other kids wouldn’t look at me and think, “She’s eating by herself,” they’d look at me and think, “She’s busy studying.” Some nice juniors eventually invited me over to their table, and I sat with them the rest of the year, but the habit of pretending to be deeply engaged in something while out in public to try to draw attention away from the fact that I was alone persisted through my undergraduate days. Although by then I was also doing it because heaven forbid fat people eat in public, but that’s another story. The main thing I want to point out here is that I frequently made a visible display of disengaging from society because I felt myself unable to make any other choice.

Eventually I grew older and just a tad wiser, less neurotic perhaps, and became able to engage with people a bit more normally. But when a protracted job hunt led to me working from home, I ended up, once again, seriously deprived of meaningful human interaction. When I started grad school two years ago I had a really difficult time speaking because I had hardly been doing it. I started reading the textbooks out loud just to use my voice. My mouth and tongue would hurt after about 10 minutes. That’s how little I was speaking. I lived my life in front of a screen, mostly in silence.

While that was going on, I started reconnecting with a friend in Detroit. She started inviting me to things like Slow Roll and Bikes & Yoga, and introducing me to some of her friends. I was a bit nervous at first considering how rusty I was at purely social (as opposed to work or academic) settings, but her friends were all cool people that were easy to get along with and talk to.

One day, we went on a bike ride through the city. We went to Wendy’s then went to the little park next to/below the MacArthur Bridge to eat outdoors. Once everybody finished eating, the conversation slowly died down as one by one, they took out their smartphones. I sat there. I took out my flip phone and put it on the table mostly to be an ass. Eventually my friend looked up, and we laughed about the fact that I was the only one without a smartphone.

Photo taken with a camera. The kind that can't send text messages.

Photo of my bike on the MacArthur Bridge (AKA Belle Isle Bridge), taken with a camera. The kind that can’t send text messages.

Another time, we were sitting in a coney island waiting for our order to come. Five of us. Again, the conversation slowly died down as people started using their phones. And then, there were two. That’s when the one guy in the group said something like “Ugh, what a time to have my battery die.” The other three were playing games. I said to him, “We could just like…talk.” Another friend heard that, laughed, put her phone away, said something about how people don’t know how to interact in person anymore, and slowly everyone came back to the present time and space.

I didn’t say it, but I was thinking, “You guys are the only friends I have. You guys are the only people I see on a somewhat regular basis, and even that’s just once a week. I want to hang out with you. I have finally learned how to people, but now all the people who knew how to people are always using their phones, they’re doing by choice what I had to do with books because I didn’t know what else to do, what kind of joke is this, Universe?”

To end on a less emo note, last November I had started working with a personal trainer, and I came up with the idea of using Twitter so that I could easily track what I was eating and share it with her. At first having to take a picture of everything I ate was novel, then I started playing with my food (arranging it into smiley faces and such), but after three months or so it just became another horrible chore. I did, however, take a photo of Corn Flakes that was far more dramatic than Corn Flakes has any business being:

Corn Flakes Chiaroscuro

Corn Flakes Chiaroscuro

No, wait, I lied, let’s end on a semi-emo note. XD


An Illustration Of Why You Shouldn’t Use Google Translate Unless You’re Fluent In Both Languages And Just Need a Good Laugh

Perhaps automatic translation has made strides in the past few years, but it still has a long way to go when it comes to working between Japanese and English.

The other day I posted this heartwarming scene to Facebook:

Adult & three little kids walking down my street:

Kid: What’s that?
Dad(?): It’s a rooster.
Kid: What’s a rooster?
Dad: It goes *does an admirable impression of a rooster crowing*
Kid: Cock-a-doodle-do!
Kid 2: Cock-a-doodle-do!
Youngest Kid: *attempts to crow, ends up shrieking instead*

This made me smile as I sat in my window reading. lol

The next day I noticed that some unexpected people had liked the status, people who aren’t native English speakers and probably don’t speak it at a terribly high level (though maybe they do now, I haven’t seen some of them in like 6 years). So I wondered if they had just liked the stat for the sake of interacting with it, if they’d understood it, or if they’d read a machine translation of it and…well, what did that say? So I plugged it into Google, and it gave me this.




This is a horrible translation for several reasons, but if you just re-translate it back into English you might not see some of them, because some words will end up correct in English even though the wrong word was used in Japanese. So let’s human translate Google Translate’s attempt:

Adult & walk my street three small children
[The way that the children were “counted” was grammatically incorrect]

Kid: What is that?

Father(?): That is a rooster.

Kid: What is a rooster?

Father is: that goes **Performs an admirable impression of a rooster’s crow
[Invisible problems here: Japanese does not idiomatically use the verb “go” in this sense; the word used for “impression” means “impression” in the sense of “He made a good impression on me” rather than the intended “impersonation”; Google doesn’t understand the convention of narrating actions in the third person within asterisks—though to be fair perhaps such a convention doesn’t exist at all in Japanese.]

Kid: Cock is–doodle-does!
[Google Translate failed to recognize this as onomatopoeia, taking it as four separate words instead; yet, as with the asterisks before, seemed at a loss over what to do with the hyphens. The katakana word that it chose for “cock” can mean “cook” as in “chef,” “cock” as in “male bird,” or “cock” as in “penis.”]

Kid 2: Huge cock–doodle I do!
[Not gonna lie, this cracked. me. UP. Unlike the first instance of “cock,” which was rendered with a katakana word that at least had the correct meaning within its pool of possible meanings, there’s no doubt as to what  kyokon means, and it ain’t “rooster.” Also, for further inexplicable reasons, it chose  itasu, the humble form of the verb “do” in respectful language.]

Young child: * is, instead of trying to do crow finishes shrieking
[Here it took “crow” as a noun rather than a verb, so it used the Japanese word for the bird. Also, while “finishes shrieking” could potentially sound like the intended “ends up shrieking,” what the Japanese implied was actually that there was already shrieking going on, and that instead of trying to crow, the child stopped that shrieking, ultimately yielding silence.]

I sat reading my window, this made me into a smile. LOL
[The word used for “reading” can mean regular reading as of a novel but usually has some extra nuance, for example, a machine reading data, a person reading someone’s mind, reading between the lines, etc. Also, Google Translate attempted to convey “made me smile” by keeping the two verbs, but the thing is that the construction “made (someone) do (something)” is expressed in Japanese by conjugating the action verb with an ending that reflects the “made~”, so you end up with one only one verb when you translate this construction correctly.]

There you have it, folks, an analysis of some of the things that can go horribly horribly wrong when you use Google Translate and its peers. Sometimes those mistakes end up being pretty entertaining, but a lot of the hilarity would fly over your head if you weren’t bilingual.

After tearing Google Translate apart, I suppose it’s only fair that I should translate this myself. That said, I wouldn’t present the story the same way were I to have Japanese speakers primarily in mind. For one, that narrating actions in third person bit doesn’t really translate (as far as I know). Also, I’m a big proponent of using what you know rather than trying to sound as if all your languages are at the same level. I mean, even if I consider my Japanese to be strong, my English level is still far beyond that. So if I attempt to write something in Japanese at the same level as I can write it in English, I’ll probably fail. That’s why I don’t bother. I just use whatever words come naturally, like so:







Videos in which GACKT…

Sits in a chair:

Secret Garden
Kimi no Tame ni Dekiru Koto
Juuni-gatsu no Love Song
Kimi ni Aitakute
No ni Saku Hana no You ni
PS I Love U

Sits in a chair and dies:


Dies outside of a  chair:

Kimi ga Oikaketa Yume
Returner ~Yami no Shuuen~

Dies outside of a chair but in a sitting position:

Tsuki no Uta
Until the Last Day

Dies la petite mort or pretends to do so:

Black Stone

Does not die but appears very hungry:


Goes down to Georgia:


Is an inspiration to little kids:

The Next Decade

Has red Kool-Aid raining on this blonde chick:


Wears a burlap sack:


Sits in an ear canal:

Arittake no Ai de

Gets you every time:

Love Letter


I could be wrong about some of these as I didn’t actually go through and watch them all again but I had a dadaistic compulsion to make this list.

Unagi no Gotoku

Message from GLEARS just came in like “The Kugustu ga Gotoku video is finally out!” and I’m sitting here watching it grinning from ear to ear because GACKT is robot dancing in an eboshi while an eel flies around on fire for no good reason.

Unagi no Gotoku

Granted if I actually look at the eel and not at all the almost popping and locking I can see that it’s a dragon. With like legs and stuff. But the association has already been made. It’s too late for me to go back. I’m reminded of all the times Gackt has joked about his grandfather saying that x animal looks delicious.

Not the kind of feast he was singing about. XD

Not the kind of feast he was singing about. Someone please go to Yoshizuka Unagi in Nakasu and eat this for me so I can live vicariously through your stomach.


Just in case

The other day I thought I’d join tumblr since WordPress seems to be full of tumbleweeds as far as the GACKT and exist†trace fandoms go. Figured I could save all the interesting posts I see on the tumblrs I read anyway. So I went to join. Among various suggestions for usernames it gave me “GloriousBasementTrash,” which was quite amusing but I went with WarpSpeedLibra instead. It was interesting at first, but then it started to feel like work. So I deleted it. orz

I doubt many of the tumblrs I followed in that brief time will see this, but I wasn’t trying to be an ass! I still read & enjoy your fandom tumblrs, I’ll just watch you from afar. Does that sound weird? It sounds weird. I’mma stop being weird now.


Air Moon Update & The Night I Scanned All of the Things

Just a little update on my progress translating The Air Moon ~MOON PROJECT Document Book~: I have translated up to page 158 of 278, meaning I’m 57% done. Whew! I hope to get at least a couple more stops done while I’m on summer vacation, but once classes start back up and/or once I (hopefully) have to go in for training for a new job, the progress will go back to being erratic.

Anyway, you can find the Table of Contents for the translation here on my other blog.

In other news, recently my beloved 8-year old all-silver MacBook Pro died almost completely. It turns on but won’t boot up, I can’t even get it to start in safe mode. 😦 It wasn’t my main machine anymore and hadn’t been for the past 3 years, but it still made me sad. Perhaps that’s what prompted my Scan Party.

I have an old HP printer/scanner/copier that played nice with my laptops as far as printing, but the scanning software wasn’t compatible with the late MBP, much less the new(er) one. That’s why I’ve kept my 10-year old iMac around despite the fact that it’s practically useless on the internet and the screen has been dying a slow death for the past 5 years.

Still, the fact that this computer can still think after 10 years is impressive, isn't it?

Still, the fact that this computer can think after 10 years is impressive, isn’t it?

With my MBP brain dead I saw the writing on the wall more clearly than it has been. I figured I had to scan everything I wanted to scan NOW. For the most part, the Things I Wanted to Scan consisted of my extensive clear file collection. (Yes, I am a dork.) But as I was going through boxes to get at some of those, I came across several other amusing things. Such as:

I meant to send this to GACKT but never did.

Unfortunately, the artist did not write their name on the post card, so I have no way to credit them.

I don’t know if they’re still doing it, but when I lived in Fukuoka, there was an annual postcard exhibit and sale inside of the store InCube in Fukuoka Tenjin Station. All of the postcards featured were done by local artists from Fukuoka Prefecture. I found this one in either YFC’s first or second year, I don’t remember when exactly. The chicken’s speech bubble was empty and I knew I had to write in this line from the YFC “press conference.” I bought two so I could keep one and send the other to GACKT, but I never quite had the balls to do it, thinking he wouldn’t be as amused as I was.

Another thing I came across:

The CLAMP collab would have been so beautiful if it happened.

The CLAMP collab would have been so beautiful if it happened.

And this isn’t directly related to GACKT save for the fact that I went to Japan for the VISUALIVE, but since it pleases my inner train geek I’ll post it here anyway:

Peep the triple 7's yo!

Peep the triple 7’s yo!

When I exited JR Futsukaichi Station, I noticed that the balance on my IC card was 777. I wanted some way to commemorate this, and went to the card machine thinking I had seen the option 「履歴」(rireki “[personal] history”). I didn’t know you could print it out like this though, that was a nice surprise. This was actually the same IC card I’d had years ago, but now that you can use one region’s card all over the country, I figured it would be convenient to have so I took it along. 懐かしかった〜

Everything, Or, What Happens When My MP’s Approaching Zero

For the past few days I’ve had Kimi Dake no Boku de Iru Kara stuck in my head but now that’s been replaced by the 15 seconds of Hips Don’t Lie that Shark-ira dances to.

¡Si! ¡Si! This brings me so much joy. LMAO

A few weeks ago I was watching Initial D on Hulu. By the Fourth Stage the show gets so technical that I space out during the parts where they start talking about driving aspects beyond my understanding. Or I start cleaning the area around my desk during these parts. But then all of a sudden the show’s signature Eurobeat soundtrack was replaced by enka of all things and I started paying attention to this Magic Moment in Translation Awesomeness:

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 2.23.46 AM

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 2.24.33 AM

Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 2.24.49 AM


I don’t know if Japanese cars today have this feature, but in Initial D when the main character goes at or above 100 kilometers per hour, the car makes this beeping noise in warning. I thought to myself, “How fast is 100 kph? Is it really so fast that you have to be warned about it?” And as I had bought a car that was originally intended for sale in Canada, the big numbers on the dash are in kph with mph in smaller numbers underneath.


But it wasn’t enough to just look at that and see that 100 kph is a little over 60 miles per hour, no. I thought, “Sixty mph isn’t really that fast, is it?” So I planned to see how just how fast it was the next time I got on an empty freeway.

I’ve mentioned before that I didn’t get my license until recently out of fear, but I didn’t mention that another thing I was afraid of was the speed demon that lives inside me. I imagine it must be a cute demon, kinda like the demon representing toe nail fungus in those old Lamisil commercials. (Don’t Google that if you don’t already know. Toe nail fungus is gross. It’s only the mascot that’s cute in an ugly way. Or ugly in a cute way.) Anyway the speed demon makes me want to go fast in all things. Especially if there’s music playing. So after seeing that 100 kph isn’t really that fast, and developing the habit of pushing it just a little more each time, one day I found myself feeling like my car was getting away from me. I looked down at the dashboard and realized I was doing 90. (That’s 140 kph for all the metric folks out there.) And this song was playing:

I took my foot off the accelerator like WHOA. But then what I was most surprised by was that it had been this song. It’s a good song, but it’s not even my favorite among the Initial D theme songs. (That honor goes to Blazin’ Beat.) I suppose it does have this nervous tension kinda like GACKT’s Birdcage to it, that may be what made me keep going. Well, it was also that everyone speeds on that section of that freeway. No one was in the left-most lanes, but the people in the right lanes were going pretty fast. In the left lane you have to go faster than them, right? Heh heh…

Black Sesame Soy Milk

I’m thinking of sending this photo to GACKT for OGYD’s birthday project. It’s not my first choice but in case that doesn’t work out it’ll be this one. It’s the only photo I took in Japan specifically with the LAST VISUALIVE merchandise. (I wasn’t gonna buy those cat paws & ears again, I took my set from Best of the Best with me!) I’m holding a box of black sesame soy milk, one of the things I was looking forward to having again. For some reason everywhere I looked in Tokyo and Fukuoka, it was nowhere to be found. Finally, I found it in the Sunkus next to my hotel in Sapporo as I was walking back from the Nitori Bunka Hall. Whew! Thank goodness.

While I was in Japan I was supposed to be working. That’s the beauty of being a freelancer, right? I had hours upon hours of sitting on planes and trains, so I figured I’d get lots done in all those vehicles and in the hotel in Sapporo (since I know nobody in Hokkaido). But I hadn’t taken into account that some trains *coff coff Hokkaido Shinkansen coff* wouldn’t have convenient big luggage compartments. At least, I didn’t see one neither in my car nor in the next one. So from Sapporo to Shin-Hakodate on the Hokuto Limited Express, with no one in the seat next to me, I got so much work done. But then on the shinkansen from Shin-Hakodate down to Tokyo, there was nowhere I could put my big international-travel suitcase but in the space between my knees and the seat in front of me. It was a very uncomfortable ride. No working in that situation. Then on some plane rides people kept reclining their friggin’ seat. So I could only open my laptop to about a 70-degree angle, which meant I could only see a small portion of the screen, significantly slowing me down. Slowness is death to a translator. All of this was double plus ungood. Normally I translate at an average rate of 1200 moji per hour when the source is digital, but considering how late I turned that one in, the client would probably never imagine it. Wump wump. No more mixing pleasure with business for me.

I can’t wait for this term to be over! At my university, Spring term is 8-weeks instead of 16 weeks like Fall and Winter. But the workload is the same. Which is fine in every discipline except ceramics. We’ve all decided to let the uni know that ceramics in Spring Term is so not good. Or at least, not with a Fall/Winter workload. Too much depends on things beyond our control. It’s not up to me to fire up the kiln. And they wanna do raku firings, which require good weather since it has to be done outdoors? Even more variables. This class has felt like a marathon.

And when I topple over the finish line, maybe I’ll get back to this:

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♪ Call me a tease? Brother please. You’re just having bad memories. ♪

♪ ¿Como se llama? ¡Si!

Bonita ¡Si!

Mi casa, su casa ♪

I don’t even care that ¡Si! isn’t a logical answer to the question “What’s your name?” XDD