I finaly took the time to make a wish and fill in the left eye on my daruma.
Now, according to tradition, I am to fill the right eye when my wish gets granted (better hope that taking-over-the-world plot works out).
Thanks again MissSin and Sandi for all your lovely birthday gifts !


So you have decided to learn Japanese? Perhaps you have even signed up for this year’s JLPT and parted with their robber baron’s fees in some foolish hope that it will motivate you for the month-and-a-half revision time that is left until then (oh wait, that’s me. never mind).

Now, there are many ways you could go about harvesting the Web’s boundless resources to help you in that quest.

You could for example do aerobics while watching awkward multicultural multilingual 80’s lesbian action:

Or you could sign into your Facebook account and add my latest online realization.

Kanji Box will fulfill your most secret kanji fantasies: it does absolutely everything, short of showing up for the test for you (gory details here). To top it all, it will let you compete against your friends: nothing like a bit of competition to get you worked up on the kanji skills (cue uplifting karate training montage).

[for all Facebook-haters out there: I feel you. I am not myself overly smitten with the concept. But I must admit Facebook sucks marginally less than its competitors, and its 3rd party API took most of the drag out of developing Kanji Box’ multi-user features… so do not expect a standalone version too soon, sorry]

My friend Scott (he of the once-a-year updated blog), once coined a term to describe that all-too-common affliction of the garden-variety blogger: the way one single little item will clog your entire production line and delay infinitely the publication of your next post. He called it weblocked, which is as good a term as any other. And guess what: it happens a lot around these parts. It goes a long way toward those long stretches of blog silence, where the more I wait, the harder it seems to find an angle to break back in.

So in the spirit of clearing my current bloggage (and also because I really don’t have the time), allow me yet another life update potpourri entry, hopefully the last one in a while.

Paris hasn’t changed over the Summer. Still mostly cold and grey on an average day. Still offering a wide variety of options to liquor oneself up. Which sorta makes up for the previous part. Also has free bikes, which is way cool.

Vélib’ is easily the best thing to happen to Paris in a long while. Dirt cheap, ubiquitous, self-service, bike stations now cover every inch of Parisian sidewalk. Which means I rarely, if ever, step into the subway or bus anymore (rainy days aside). Biking amidst Parisian notoriously psychotic car drivers is not as fear-inducing as I thought it woud be, although it requires staying alert and attentive to your surroundings at all times. Unless, that is, you are drunk, riding full speed at two on a bike, down the Montagne Sainte Geneviève (that hill atop of which sits the Pantheon) on to the next bar. But we know of no people who would do such a mindblowingly stupid thing.

Of course, this being France and perfection being neither human nor French, this wonderful system has its downsides, one of which is the many bureaucratic hoops and near-month-long wait, one has to go through in order to receive their one-year subscription card. Still waiting for mine (and living off weekly passes in the meantime).

Winterish temperatures have also finally arrived. Which had for first consequence to keep me in bed the best of last week, waiting for my usual seasonal bout of flu to pass. But now that my tissue consumption has gotten back under the metric-tonne-a-day, I have finally come to give some limited appreciation to the cold albeit rather sunny outdoors. I don’t know if it’s me growing soft or cough syrup acting up, but I swear: breathing in the fresh crisp air on a cold Parisian night nearly makes me feel all mushy inside these days. I have turned on the heater at home nonetheless.

Shortly before I started hacking my lungs out, I did manage to attend a couple miscellaneous social affairs and cool art-related thingies. In particular, I had a really good time during the yearly Nuit Blanche celebration, spent in the north of Paris where a friend was showing her paintings. I do suspect spending the night outside discussing contemporary artists’ sexuality in relation to their art, with only a light jacket and some whisky to fight off the cold, might not be completely unrelated to aforementioned health problems.

Somewhere amidst the 20-points list of excuses for my being remiss from this blog all this time, is my official decision to sign up for JLPT 2-kyuu this year. What can I say: I like pain. The test takes place at the beginning of December. By even the most optimistic estimates, I will fail by a long shot, but I figured paying the 60 euros signup fee was the best way to kick my ass into some hardcore Japanese studying for the next two months.

Of course, being a geek first and foremost, I immediately concluded that 10% of my precious 50 days of revision would be much better spent on coding a nifty Japanese drill application. Also, because I am a geek 2.0, this application is on Facebook. But I swear it doesn’t suck (at least not as much as all those vampire/pirate/ninja bollocks). Trust me, if you are studying for JLPT, or even if you are just learning Japanese for fun (mind-boggling as the concept might be), this app is all you’ve ever dreamt off.

And now that I’m done selling it, I guess it is time for me to go back to using it.

I promise I’ll try to post more frequent, if succinct, updates for the near future.