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The saga continues   

It's been a while since I've done anything to my bass guitar but finally I got some inspiration and ordered some tools from The Land of Hope and Glory ®; a fret saw, a 10" radius block and some fret wire. Surprisingly it was cheaper to buy from the States than from Japan.

Next step was to glue the fingerboard to the body and cut the slots for the frets. This took a lot of careful measuring as the saying goes 'measure twice, cut once'. Next was to sand the proper radius to the fingerboard. After a considerable amount of elbow grease and sweat the fingerboard was ready. I made inlays from bubinga tree since it looked better that abalone.

I also plan to make my own pickups but it takes a bit engineering since I want to make single pole pickups and one, individual pickup for one string with height adjustment. Winding a pickup is easy but how to make it adjustable without ugly screws visible is giving me sleepless nights. I should brush up my CAD skills...

Well, back to the drawing board.

Sami (Finland)

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by chitchatcafe | 2014-05-28 17:16 | カフェ 英会話 札幌


Hello guys. The time of barbecue and cherry blossoms is upon us! Well, it kind of passed already but it was exciting none the less. This year we didn't do much barbecuing, opting instead to spend a quiet weekend in Nakajima park. Previous years we always went to Maruyama park, so I never knew that Nakajima also has a lot of nice cherry blossoms. I am attaching some pictures if you are not convinced. Anyways, me and my wife decided that the smell of charred meat and the noise of countless drunk people is not as desirable now as it was a few years ago, so Nakajima park it was. I guess we are getting old, hehe.

Now onto some not so good news. This is, unfortunately, going to be my last blog entry, as I am moving on to work on other projects that require my attention full time. It has been a pleasure meeting all of you and I hope I see you around Sapporo. If you see me on the street - don't be a stranger, stop and say "Hi".

Slavi (Bulgaria)

by chitchatcafe | 2014-05-27 15:52 | 英会話 プライベート レッスン

Time slip   

Time. Something completely consistent across all cultures, yet also completely different in its observation between them, and even sometimes within themselves. Let me start with the last point because it’s the smallest, and work my way to complexity.

Using the United States as an example, a country composed of people from all over the world into one (mostly) cohesive unit. In fact, our national motto is e pluribus unum, which is Latin for “out of many, one”, and reinforces the concept of unity from which we draw our name. However, time is one thing we don’t all agree on, both with the rest of the world, and even between regions of our own country.

During the summer (but beginning in Spring), most places in America observe what’s referred to as Daylight Saving Time. By careful examination of the verbiage, the meaning and purpose are likely apparent; it’s a time adjustment made to save daylight during the longer mid-year days.

However, as Americans, we don’t treat it consistently, starting with its name. Most Americans incorrectly call it “Daylight Savings Time”, which admittedly sounds more natural, but is grammatically incorrect. So that is one inconsistency. The other is that some places in the US don’t observe it at all (Arizona, Hawaii, Guam, etc.), complicating interstate communication and scheduling. For example, the contiguous forty-eight states are divided into four time zones, separated into geographic striations, and each is offset by an hour compared to their adjacent zones: Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific. This presents plenty of difficulties for anyone traveling, working, or relaying communique across these boundaries, but adding a seasonal time shift of one hour, plus exempting a few locales makes consistency impossible, and clear understanding an endeavor nearly deserving of its own post-doctoral education.

As an antiquated system devised hundreds of years prior for the amelioration of seasonal, agricultural hindrances, DST’s purpose within a modern, non-agrarian society has little appreciable benefit to its populace—being obsolete at best, and should be abolished, though that is merely my opinion, as I digress…

Widening the scope, Daylight Saving Time is mostly unobserved internationally. To my knowledge, Japan does not participate. So if anyone is keeping track, if we compare the USA during the summer season with Japan, not only do you have the continental time differential, but also several zones within the US, and further still, some places observing DST…but some not. I’ve been living this annual cycle for thirty-five years now, am reasonably-capable with numbers, and could not tell you what time it is in San Francisco, New York, or my hometown.

Time in a literal, measurable sense clearly lacks consistency.

In a more abstract or even figurative way, Japan and America seem to regard time differently as well. In general, I consider English a less formal or polite language. That’s not to say we don’t have a plethora of words and vocabulary to accommodate a wide variety of courtesies, but I feel it pales in comparison to the deeply-entrenched grammar, vocabulary, and gestures which permeate the Japanese language and culture.

For example, in English, we have several typical phrases to express gratitude: thanks, thank you, thank you very much; each increasingly polite, but all essentially slight variations of the same root word. In Japanese, not only are there slight variations (する, します, しましょう), but often auxiliary or alternate words altogether (どうも, ありがとう, どうもありがとう, どうもありがとうございます). Keigo in general seems to favor more lengthy expressions which also tend to include distinct, purposeful lexicon. Among my first keigo lessons a few years ago, most teachers explain these differences in the context that the speaker taking more time and effort to deliver the extra syllables, is a politeness in and of itself, beyond the actual words. In English we definitely don’t perceive any correlation between words, their speaking duration, and any kind of positive or negative sentiment, unless one illustrates an exaggerated scenario such as a professor or minister rambling on, to the dismay of their audience. In this sense, the languages themselves and how they are interpreted, both denotatively and connotatively, have a certain impact on our native perception relative to time.

Additionally, I constantly see people here in Japan hesitating mid-step, acknowledging, and profusely apologizing for being late or causing others to wait. This could be customers queueing to pay at a store or restaurant, pedestrians meeting cars entering or exiting parking structures, or even a train's lateness. A couple weeks ago I had rescheduled a missed mail delivery. I indicated simply to deliver it during the morning sometime, so when the postman finally came at around 10:30 a.m. and began groveling for my forgiveness because he was "so late", I found it odd; it was still a.m. by a wide margin. In America I’d be lucky and gracious if they showed up before 3pm, and certainly not expect any apology. Sometimes even a delay of mere seconds is reason enough for people to initiate their compensatory, almost compulsory politeness and apologizing routines. It implies that people tend to highly value, or at least greatly respect others’ time enough that wasting even the smallest bit of it seems a capital offense. On the contrary, Americans don’t really have any concept of this beyond being late for appointments. I do really prefer the Japanese mentality in this regard, as time is the one currency in my life that is finite, making it also my most precious commodity; I can always earn more money or things.

I appreciate these differences; finding them simultaneously amusing, frustrating, and at times bordering on the ridiculous or unnecessary. But then for me, I enjoy—perhaps even celebrate—contrasting points, especially between cultures; that’s ultimately one of the major reasons that drew me to Japan in the first place. As beautiful as Hokkaido is that can leave me speechless, as delicious as the food may be, as efficient as so many systems are, it always seem to trace back to comparisons between the life I was raised in and left behind with the life and lifestyle I have come to know halfway around the world.

What do you think about time? About my interpretation of things? Stop by and talk about it with me anytime!

Aaron (USA)

by chitchatcafe | 2014-05-24 15:10 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

It's a small World!   

Hi everyone,

I hope you're all well and that you had a good Golden Week/Ohanami!

This time I would like to share an amazing story that few of you already know since I talked about it at the Chit Chat Cafe. Nevertheless, I really want to share it in a short post.
You've probably already run into some friends or acquaintances you had not seen in ages or even received a phone call from someone you thought about just few seconds before. It did happen to me again not more than a week ago ; I bumped into 4 friends in 4 days. Anyway, those are coincidences, maybe common coincidences.
However, this is what happened to me a couple of weeks ago. A coincidence, yes indeed, but on a much larger scale.

Last year, I went back to France for summer and on my way back to Sapporo ,I had a short stopover in Seoul. From there, I got on a different plane and happened to sit next to two middle aged japanese ladies. We talked all the way to Sapporo but parted ways at Chitose airport without exchanging emails or phone numbers, nothing, just a mere 'thank you and good luck!'.
Then a couple of weeks ago my kendo teacher, a lady, came to me and said : 'Tell me Claire, you went back to France last year, right? Didn't you stop at Seoul Airport before getting on a plane to Sapporo?' Of course I did, but what caught my attention is that I didn't know my kendo teacher at the time and if I did mention to her my trip to France last year, I had never mentioned any stopovers. Following this question and noticing my obvious state of confusion, my kendo teacher went on :' I have a friend who went to Korea with her cousin last year and on their way back to Sapporo, they sat next to a french girl. This girl said that she was living in Sapporo, she had studied japanese and was now teaching English and French. She had long black hair and loved cheese and japanese food. Though we didn't talk about kendo and didn't exchange names or phone numbers, she said that she was not particularly interested in living in France.' This last statement clicked in my head ... teaching french and english, long black hair, love cheese and japanese food, studied japanese... it could be anyone but 'not particularly interested in living in France' is not something that many french people say, indeed. Could it be me? Could this lady be my kendo teacher's friend?
This was too much of a potential coincidence to not do anything about it, so, my kendo teacher settled a dinner out with this lady, her and myself to find out if I was the girl that sat next to her friend last year in a the plane.
And guess what, it was me! 'What a small World' took on all it's meaning! I still can't believe this actually happened!

How about you Chit Chatters? Have anything that amazing ever happened to you?

Claire (France)

by chitchatcafe | 2014-05-23 14:49 | マンツーマン 英会話 札幌

May, vacations'spirit   

May means holidays for most Japanese but also for French too.
Unfortunately, we don't have 4 days in a row but 3 different holidays. This created a unique trend French people called ''doing the bridge''. When a holiday falls on a Thursday, French would mysteriously fall sick on Friday and thus would earn a long week end. This attitude obliged some bosses to negociate proper vacations on Friday for their employees as they obviously would skip work on this occasion.

Don't skip your English chat though !

Lise (France)

by chitchatcafe | 2014-05-22 14:46 | 札幌 英会話 サークル