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Outou ([personal profile] outou) wrote2011-01-30 05:43 pm

Personal Entry No. 62

(waves arms) Hello, there! I haven't been done in yet, neither by academia nor by CLAMP's persistent attempts to crush my heart. There are many things that need to be said -- but I'll spare you most of it, since there's only so much we can talk about at any given time.

My studies are coming along well: I passed the first round of the selection process for the Critical Language Scholarship Program (huzzah!), and this semester seems to be shaping up well. I'm actually taking a basic Physics course due to my school's bizarre insistence that all students take both a mathematics course and a natural science course with a lab component before graduating; the work is less difficult than I thought it would be, especially since I haven't seen a lick of algebra, trigonometry, or calculus since high school. It helps very much that the professor is both kind and possessed of a good sense of humor.

In my voice lessons, I'm currently working on "The Statue at Tsarskoe Selo" by César Cui; it's based off of a very short poem by Pushkin (which, coincidentally, Anna Akhmatova herself chose to expand in one of her own poems, she having a great love for her hometown). The piano accompaniment is so beautiful!

It'll take me years to develop a voice comparable to that of Ms. Kushnerova, but I hope I can do this piece some justice for now.

My language courses have proceeded smoothly thus far: in Russian, we're discussing politics and learning relevant terms, along with going over verbal adverbs (gerundives) and the prefixed verbs of motion (curse them!). Coincidentally, we're learning about "directions," building words, and "desyoo" in Japanese, which led to this funny exchange in our last drill class:

Professor: (following the "Core Conversation" from the textbook) アメリカ大使館は虎ノ門ですね? ...Aさん, いって下さい. (The American Embassy is in Toranomon, right? A., please answer.)
Student A.: (also following "Core Conversation") ええ, そうです が... (Yes, that's right, but...)
Professor: 虎ノ門のどこでしょうか. (Where in Toranomon would it be?)
Student A.: オークラホテルのすぐ側です. (It's right near the Hotel Okura.)
Professor: 良いです! (Good!) (points to poster on blackboard saying "Conference on Japanese Language – Tanaka College ") 田中カレッジはどこでしょうか. (Where could Tanaka College be?)
Assorted students: わかりませんねえ... (I'm sorry, I don't know...)
Professor: (takes off piece of paper covering the word "Japan") Badum! B-さん, いって下さい. (B., please answer.)
Student B.: 日本にあります. (It's in Japan.)
Outou: ...日本のどこでしょう か. (...Where in Japan would it be?)
Professor: 良いです! 皆さん日本のどこですか. (Good! Everyone, where in Japan is it?) (takes off piece of paper covering the word "Tokyo")
Student C.: 日本の東京にあります! (It's in Tokyo in Japan!)
Assorted students: 東京のどこでしょうか. (Where in Tokyo would it be?)
Professor: 良いです! (Good!) (puts up map)
Student D.: 虎ノ門にあります. (It's in Toranomon.)
Professor: もう一度? (Once more?)
Student D.: 日本の東京の虎ノ門にあります. (It's in Toranomon in Tokyo in Japan.)
Professor: 良いです! (Good!)
Outou: ...虎ノ門のどこでしょうか. (...Where in Toranomon could it be?!)
Professor: (pauses) (grins) オークラホテルのすぐ側です. (It's right near the Hotel Okura.)

Lesson: Everything that is important in Tokyo is right near the Hotel Okura.

Other than all that, I'm continuing with fencing (I scored five touches on my instructor yesterday!) and am also taking a very fascinating course on the effects of economic and industrial development on the environments, cultures, and societies of countries in both East and Southeast Asia.

My family lives near the tip of an island that's a relatively small stretch of land away from being a peninsula, so we rarely saw more than three inches of snow per winter during my grade school years. Come to think of it, it seemed as if we received less and less snowfall as I grew older -- I definitely remember more snow days in elementary school, which meant more time to either run around outside and get snow in my coat or stay inside and eat sandwiches with my mother.

This winter vacation gave me plenty of opportunities to stay inside and eat sandwiches with my mother, as well as with everyone else in the family since no one could get outside. Two large blizzards hit the east coast of the U.S. between Christmas and the end of my break, and apparently a third one hit while I was leaving; these things are so rare for us, the NYC government itself had an infamously difficult time keeping the roads cleared after the first of the storms.

The snow was very beautiful to look at, at least -- and it's very fortunate that it calmed down before my father went into NYC to have surgery done on his neck and back. (He's doing well now, even though he gave us some bad scares immediately after he came home from the hospital. The poor man had to wear a heavy, plastic neck brace for almost a month, and couldn't sleep in his own bed. Now he's driving and off most of his pain medication!)

The front yard, with our dear friend the pear tree. It took my brother, sister, and me so long to clear out our own driveway, it was too late to go anywhere when we finished! (We live on a back road, too, so our own town took ages to clear the actual street off properly.)

The back porch. The picnic table has always served as a good measure of how much snow is on the ground. (Members of my f-list who are used to the snow: are you rolling your eyes yet?)

This is the barn, where my father's beloved Model-T lives. It was saddening to see the plants on the deck and in the garden slowly get covered up with snow.

Seeing the little swing get covered was almost worse, though. What's that in the background?!

"She cannae take much more, Captain!"

The snow on the ground was a blinding white when the storm cleared. We had to wear sunglasses when we went outside.

I have many more blurry, grainy photos to share, including some of this path in a different season and of my very own natural habitat, which I've been meaning to post here for a while now. It's getting late, though, so while I've already uploaded the images, I'd like to wait until next week to post them.

Do you remember those illustration requests? You know, the ones that have taken me over a year to finish? I'm going to post all of them by the end of February, since I've shamed myself enough by making you wait for so long. The end results are pretty pleasing, though -- it shows that I've revised and redrawn some of them entirely since...the December before last.

Unfortunately, I haven't even gotten around to making any new icons since my last set, and the last section of the tutorial is still waiting to be posted -- I really need to get on top of things so far as [livejournal.com profile] momoizumu is concerned. There are a bunch of bases from Gate 7, Amanchu, Tegami Bachi, and Kobato. waiting!

In other news, Bradly Manning, the U.S. Private who is suspected of giving confidential military information to Wikileaks, is currently being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours each day, with no access to his personal possessions, and with guards checking in on him every five minutes. Apparently, our government is willing to hold not just foreign nationals but U.S. citizens under inhuman conditions (even if, at the very least, Pte. Manning isn't being waterboarded or beaten).

An overwhelming majority of Southern Sudanese have voted to secede from Northern Sudan, which means that the splitting of Sudan is all but guaranteed. I'm unsure, however, that this is going to foster peace in the area -- partially because of the inevitable splitting of families and communities over the border, but especially because of Southern Sudan's economic "underdevelopment" (read: susceptibility to pressure by the World Trade Organization and the World Bank). This is a choice that many Southern Sudanese have fought for for a long time, though, so others looking on can only hope for the best.

Of course, that's somewhat difficult to do when both Tunisia and Egypt have recently been embroiled in anti-government protests. Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was removed from power two weeks ago; some commentators think that Egypt's Hosni Mubarak is going to go the same path. The "comprehensive process of political reform" enacted by the Egyptian protesters (thank you, David Cameron!) has left nearly 100 people dead with thousands more injured, but at the very least Mubarak has removed state police from the streets for now.

On a more upbeat tone: a belated Happy Birthday to [livejournal.com profile] lavender88 and [livejournal.com profile] pink_for_flower, both of whom were born on the 21st! А с (поздным) днём рождения, [livejournal.com profile] fetterless -- желаю счастья!

[identity profile] lady-kikyou.livejournal.com 2011-01-31 01:56 am (UTC)(link)
Is Tokyo Tower near Hotel Okura, too? :|


[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com 2011-01-31 08:37 pm (UTC)(link)
Um...actually, I looked it up. Tokyo Tower is only a 14-minute walk from the Hotel Okura. You've discovered the tip of a vast and incomprehensible conspiracy!

[identity profile] lavender88.livejournal.com 2011-01-31 06:56 am (UTC)(link)
As cheesy as it sounds, seeing you back here is a nice enough belated birthday present ♥!

I've never seen snow before - land of eternal summer over here /resigned tone/ - and it sure does look pretty! And impossibly white too, like something straight out of a storybook.

[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com 2011-01-31 08:45 pm (UTC)(link)
Aw, thank you. :`)

It's incredibly inconvenient if one needs to go somewhere, but the snow really did look beautiful before the plows came in (and, of course, before the herds of deer walked over it -- we have tons of them). There are a lot of open fields in my town, though, so I bet there's still a lot of untouched snow left -- just not along the roads!
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[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com 2011-01-31 08:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I can definitely understand why my school would have these requirements in place, especially since it's so easy to ignore entire academic fields when you get immersed in your major(s). Even only two weeks in, I can tell that I'm using an entirely different mode of thinking for physics, and it's rewarding! The only problem is that most of the natural science courses (and the anthropology/sociology courses as well) have a long list of prerequisites, so it can be difficult to get into something that isn't incredibly basic.

All of this snow is so weird for my area! It normally just rains at home during the winter, too, or sleets -- whatever is guaranteed to make everyone more miserable. The snow was a very nice aesthetic change. :D

[identity profile] mairenn-k.livejournal.com 2011-01-31 06:01 pm (UTC)(link)
*waves back* It's nice to see an entry from you again! I'm glad to hear that your studies are going well- all the courses you take sound so interesting, not to mention the fencing and the voice lessons! I wish we'd been able to do things like that at the place where I used to study.

Those pictures are very pretty (and poor tree, it looks so miserable!), I've probably said it before but the place where you live looks really nice. For some reason I tend to remember my childhood winters as colder and more snowy than the ones we've had during the last decade or so too – with the exception of the two most recent winters, that is. Maybe nostalgia has something to do with it, though. (For the record, over here this winter has been really weird. Crazy cold at first, lots of snow where you don't usually get much of it and vice versa, and now, plus degrees at the time of the year that's supposed to have the lowest temperatures.)

Also, I'm glad that your father's surgery went well!

[identity profile] outou.livejournal.com 2011-01-31 09:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I think I make my life sound more exciting than it is -- my schedule (and lack of driver's license) means that I almost never get to leave the city or even take a walk around downtown or the local nature trails. Your work sounds a lot more interesting!

The local government works hard to keep certain areas "open" and undeveloped, so my town is still pretty rural-looking -- it's really beautiful in the spring! (The weather has been really weird at home, though, too, especially since this type of snowstorm is practically unheard of there. Are the destabilizing effects of global warming supposed to be this obvious, or am I imagining things?)

Thank you very much!