Saturday, March 31, 2007

Cherry blossoms @ Ichifusa Reservoir

Cherry blossoms @ Ichifusa Reservoir
Originally uploaded by pabeaufait
© 2007 Paul Beaufait, all rights reserved
This year fluctuations in temperature may have delayed cherry blossom viewing in many locales. Weather forecasters revised predictions that I heard on NHK new programs.

However, the body of water in Ichifusa Reservoir seems to have moderated temperatures, and brought blossoms to their full nearly on schedule. I visited the area yesterday and took this picture (Cherry blossoms @ Ichifusa Reservoir, right).

Does anyone know how the Meteorological Agency derives its schedule for cherry blossoms? Please check the schedule out (March 28, 2007, was the most recent one that I found) and let us know (in a comment on this blog entry) what you think about blooming predictions.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Student blogs are springboards to WinK.

As the fuzzy illustration below suggests, student blogs are central venues for class activity, where you'll be involved in creating and expanding your own blogs. I expect you to use your blogs as springboards for community blogging.

That is, I expect you to read and comment frequently on posts made not only by your classmates, but also by members of other classes in the WinK community. Moreover, you should plan to read and respond to comments on, and links to your own blog.

Gliffy is a free online graphic tool. If you click on the "gliffy" bar at the foot of the graphic (above) you should find a crisper, clearer image than the one here.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gaijin-Eyes video gallery

Gaijin-Eyes is a video production enterprise in Kumamoto specializing in footage or still shots of Japan.

For example, check out high-definition (16:9) video clips here:
As the Gaijin-Eyes homepage notes:
To view [videos on] this site you will need a fast connection and Flash Player 8 or 9 installed. If you don't have Flash Player 8 or 9 you can get it from the link below:

Though I haven't verified "only in Japan" claims, I'm adding Gaijin-Eyes to my local favorites link roll in the sidebar to give readers new perspectives on local customs and traditions. If there is any clip in the gallery that you find particularly interesting, please write it up in a post on your own blog or in a comment on this post.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kumamoto-i: links, mailing list & wiki

Kumamoto-jo [castle] in the spring
Originally uploaded April 8, 2006,
by overoften (some rights reserved).
In this post, I'd like to introduce three Kumamoto-related websites, namely the:
  1. Kumamoto Links,
  2. Kumamoto-i mailing list, &
  3. Kumamoto-i Wiki.
I've added these links to my sidebar already (see: Local Favorites).

The first site is "a gateway to regional information and Kumamoto's vibrant Internet community," Kumamoto Links. The links are "a by-product of the Kumamoto International mailing list" (Yahoo! Groups: Kumamoto-i), the second site, which Kirk Masden started in 1999.

Kumamoto Links is an organized collection of information about Kumamoto, much of which mailing list members have found and shared. Either the Introduction (top left) or the Favorites list (top right) is a good place to start browsing to find out what's in Kumamoto Links already.

Among favorite Kumamoto Links you can find the Kumamoto-i mailing list subscription page. If you are looking for something else, like restaurants, I suggest that you use your browser search function (command/control F - that is what I did when I was trying to find the Star of India).

The third website that I'd like to introduce is the Kumamoto International Wiki. This site also is a collection of information about Kumamoto. Yet it differs from Kumamoto Links in that it is a "wiki, a collaboratively edited website, for people living in and around Kumamoto" - in fact, anywhere in the world!

As with Kumamoto Links, you are welcome to browse the Kumamoto-i wiki, but you also may make contributions directly to the wiki. "If you'd like to start, check out the Getting Started page for help." I've been over and found a niche for info. about the Star of India on the wiki just now.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Movie: Dreamgirls (Condon, 2006)

Dreamgirls (Condon, 2006) was the first movie that I saw in a theater in 2007. Actually, it has been the only one (I watch lots of movies at home on DVDs, videos or TV, but don't always stay awake till the end).

It was well worth the trip to the theater to see Dreamgirls - for the music, if for no other reason! The story starts like this:

Set in the turbulent early 1960s to mid-70s, Dreamgirls follows the rise of a trio of women - Effie, Deena and Lorrell - who have formed a promising girl group called The Dreamettes. At a talent competition, they are discovered by an ambitious manager named Curtis Taylor, Jr., who offers them the opportunity of a lifetime.

(Apple - Trailers - Dreamgirls)

Dreamgirls won Oscars for sound mixing and best actress in a supporting role, plus six other nominations (AMPAS, IMDb). The film is rated PG-13 for its "theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, or other contents," by the Motion Picture Association of America.

To get a taste, check out these QuickTime trailers. Viewing trailers requires QuickTime7 (free downloads: Mac or Windows).


Condon, Bill (Dir.). (2006). Dreamgirls [motion picture]. United States: Dreamworks S.K.G.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Restaurant: Star of India

Friends invited me to a new restaurant last Saturday, the Star of India in Shimotoori. It is so new that I could neither find it in online guides to restaurants in Kumamoto, nor get the phone number from telephone directory assistance.

The Star of India is on the south side of the side street south of Tsutaya. (Try saying that three times fast!) That is, the restaurant is about a block east of Shimotoori; it's on the second floor.

I found it easily without a map or address. Someone in the neighborhood with a digital camera-equipped cell phone sent me the picture - thanks!

There were a couple of loud patrons there at first (around seven p.m.) and lots of smokers. Be forewarned: the Star of India is a small place, and there is no no-smoking section. Since it appears quite popular, I recommend making reservations in advance.
Image courtesy of Free Food Graphics

Of course the food is good, and serving sizes are generous. A set for four to five people was more than four of us could eat. The mango lassi is delicious.
[185 words]

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

A learner's view on fluency

... [L]anguage learning is only a tool; finding what you can do with it is much more important than being fluent.
(Nakao, 2005, p. 6)

What Nakao suggests, as she reflects on difficulties in a challenging new environment, is belief in a need to actually use the tool that you're getting in order to find out "what you can do with it."

I share her belief in the necessity of language use both in learning a language and in remembering what you've learned.

Use it or lose it; blog!


Nakao, Yuri. (2005). Discovering learner/teacher autonomy in myself: remarks on the one-day LD Conference. Learning Learning: JALT Learner Development SIG Newsletter, 12(1), 5-10.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Blogging targets: Aim high!

Blogging targets: Aim High!
Originally uploaded by pabeaufait.
You may be wondering how much blogging to do along with your extensive reading for this course.

The chart on the right shows roughly how many blog posts you can expect to produce in twelve weeks if you write three, five or seven times a week (click on the chart for a closer look).

For starters, if you write one quick post in class (see topic/timer on the wiki), two or three short impressions of books you've read or movies you've seen, and one or two more posts telling about an interesting link, you'll have five already!

Thoughtful comments or helpful suggestions on other peoples' blogs are always welcome. For example, you can start with a comment on this blog post: Learning to Blog; Blogging to Learn. Then browse the Wink site to visit blogging neighbors' blogs.

However, the quality of your posts is just as important as the quantity. To balance and reflect extensive reading (ER), your blog posts should grow not only in length and number, but also in sophistication.

Your weekly blog posts should reflect what you have selected and read from the ER collections in the library. Your blog writing and comments on others' blogs also should show what you've learned from reading and reviewing blogs of classmates and other blogging community members.

Friday, March 2, 2007

How a mouse works (Recruit, 2006)

Here is a bit of comic relief from chronic mousing syndrome:

1-click Award by Recuit Media Communications
(Web Creative Awards 2006)

Thanks to Graham Stanley on Learning with Computers for pointing out that very funny media production.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

An extensive reading (ER) project

Harry Potter in Japanese
Originally uploaded by pabeaufait.
Several years ago, a peer educator refreshed my awareness of extensive reading (ER) for language learning purposes. He now teaches another section of this writing course.

Not long after that refreshing encounter, I started an extensive Japanese reading project. The picture shows just how far I've gotten. I'm still reading. I haven't started the pink book showing the back cover.

賢者の石 455 6ヶ月 2002.06 2002.12
秘密の部屋 502 6ヶ月 2003.01 2003.09
アズカバンの囚人 568 6ヶ月 2003.10 2004.03
炎のゴブレット (上) 557 16ヶ月 2004.04 2005.08
炎のゴブレット (下) 573 7ヶ月 2005.10 2006.04
不死鳥の騎士団 (上) nnn xヶ月 2006.04
不死鳥の騎士団 (下) mmm yヶ月
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