✱ I had an appointment with my cardiologist this week. First things first, I went through an echo doppler exam to see how things were going after more than two years without undergoing this same exam. It made me very happy to find out that, fortunately, as it happened before, everything is still fine with my heart for my age. Then I’ve run the treadmill for many minutes, while performing an exercise electrocardiogram: this kind of routine usually exhausts me, but there’s something good in it, as for years I was unable to finish the whole procedure due to feeling tired or feeling pain, except when I ran the treadmill two years ago and beat the exercise, although very tired: I did it again this week, that is, completed the treadmill routine again, what was praised by my doctor who said although I still need medication and exercise (who doesn’t need exercise, after all?) I did very good in the treadmill. But the apex of my appointment was when based on these exams’ results, he dismissed the upcoming need of performing an ambulatory blood pressure monitoring exam, the one I hate the most in terms of cardiology as it has you attached to a device hung from your waist during 24 hours in a row, even disturbing your capacity to sleep well. My doctor also adjusted some of my medications dosages and that certainly contributed to improve my well being… 😊

✱ I’ve fallen a little behind my 2023 reading goal — although there’s still time for me to recover. Even so, this week I could finish reading Assombrando Adeline, a book whose details, as a librarian, I’ve personally contributed to Literal.club, by the way. This was the 11th book out of 20 I want to read this year, and it was a story different from anything I had read before. It just didn’t prove better than it was because of the translation errors that showed up… maybe a pet peeve of mine, but still enough to impair the whole experience… still, finishing the book made me start reading the second volume right away (the author told her story in a duet) and this means soon enough I’ll reach 12 books read 📚.

Luke, our lovely doggie friend

✱ Luke really got me scared this week. Normally a very active little Yorkshire dog, always after us and willing to play and keep us company, this week he spent two days whining as if he’d got hurt, yet for no apparent reason. It looked like he was feeling pain in his rear legs. He usually jumps up and down our sofa and beds but he just didn’t during this time. After observing him for some time I even set up an appointment with the vet — only to see him recover after my wife gave him a small spoon with two drops of anti inflammatory medicine, following a previous’ back pain episode he suffered a couple of years ator for which we kept the vet’s prescription. Thank God this made him better. Luke’s been with us since 2017 now and he’s as part of the family as all of us. We all love him and felt very relieved as soon as he came to his old self again. Nice to see you well, buddy.

One Piece Season 1 poster

✱ I can finally say, 61 episodes later, that I’ve finished One Piece: East Blue Arc, the equivalent to the anime’s first season. When watching so many episodes in a row it is impossible not to deal with filler episodes, such as the Warship Island arc, but luckily One Piece is known to have few episodes like this — little less than 10% of the 1,000+ aired so far. Besides, the story is so amazing and filled with charismatic characters, and all the main ones have solid background stories, what is very appealing. In short, I loved it. And this means I’ll keep on watching Luffy and the Strawhat Pirates’ adventures.

The movie’s thumbnail art

✱ I’ve watched All Quiet on the Western Front, much because of my younger son’s insistence, as he loves history, geography… and war related subjects. This movie tells the story of Paul Bäumer, a young boy who enlists the German Army with his best friends to fight during World War I, only to find that his romantic view of the war — glory and heroism — is soon replaced with the realities of war, that is, deaths, despair and hopelessness. Paul then replaces his dreams of becoming a war hero with his best efforts to survive. This type of movie is not my cup of tea, yet I need to admit that it looks very pleasing to watch, and it narrates war in a way I’ve never seen before, I mean, from the POV of common soldiers, what contributes a lot to its antiwar message. I can recommend it.

An example of a Brazilian pastel

✱ Brazilian food is filled with unique dishes. From brigadeiro to coxinha — both delicious, by the way, there are so many goodies that you can taste here. This week, though, me and a couple of friends from work decided to eat pastel prepared in a street market, something that I hadn’t done for some time. As delicious as difficult to explain in English, its Wikipedia description says pastel is a Brazilian street food consisting of half-circle or rectangle-shaped thin crust pies with assorted sweet fillings and fried in vegetable oil (equal to the picture I placed above). More than the delicious taste of pastel, though, the most important thing to me was to collect yet another good memory with my friends. Amazing.

✱ I’ve accumulated 10 books that I’m currently reading and maybe, maybe not, you’re going to believe I’ve gone completely out of my mind. I also think so… it’s a real exaggeration, I know, but all of this happens because I’m addicted to reading and I cannot keep this impulse of buying and starting to read new books at stake (again, tsundoku). I’ve bought Holly, the newest book from Stephen King — who, by the way, I believe is maybe the greatest storyteller alive — in pre-ordering because I just cannot pass without reading anything he publishes, but ended up buying and reading… Assombrando Adeline, which called my attention for being at the place in Amazon’s psychological thrillers list (a genre that I appreciate reading) and made me debut . I haven’t finished it yet but this decision of reading the book made me debut in the dark romance genre as well. This is not a genre for everyone, as it deals with things like death, mobs, kidnapping and many other disturbing themes. I’m liking it so far — although the Brazilian Portuguese translation of the ebook sold by Amazon is sufferable with all its errors, typos and machine-like translation, making me believe that Google probably translated it —, to the point of having read 80% of the content in 2 days, a real page turner.

Brotato game card in Nintendo eShop

✱ I’ve decided to digitally acquire Brotato on the Nintendo eShop this week. That’s a game I already own on Steam, and that I very much enjoy playing (whenever I have time to). In case you don’t know Brotato, its concept is very simple: you are a potato 🥔, fighting hordes of space aliens and trying to survive for as long as you can while being able to use up to six weapons — one crazier than the previous one — because, as no one had ever determined the total number of arms a potato can have, the devs decided to give them six ones. Now, not only did I buy this game out of knowing and enjoying it quite a lot, but also because at home we’ve come to the feared stage in parenthood where you start to dispute your own computer’s screen time with that of your kids (in this case, my younger son). So as to have no conflicts, why not play Brotato wherever he’s not using the device, right?

✱ At work, this week our director came from the United States, where he lives, to spend some time with the team. He’s Brazilian and whenever he needs to be at his home country, he appreciates creating this time for all of us to spend together. So, 3 whole days were reserved for presencial workshops, team buildings and lectures, all of them always enjoyable on their own. I specially loved two of the activities during this period, and will now say why.

✱ First activity. Listening to one of the scheduled sessions during this week’s time with our director, I got acquainted with The Five Love Languages, a book written by Gary Chapman, an American author who addresses human relationships. I had never heard about the book but, to my complete surprise, many of my coworkers had read it. All of who did highly praised its contents and one in particular even testified that it had changed her relationship with her significant others. The speech we were watching to was meant to demonstrate how four of the five love languages can be applied to a normal, work relationship (thus excluding physical touch) — and through some drills we performed during the time I was able to discover a couple of revealing things about myself and the people I work most closely with, and, as I told my leadership later, this alone would be worth all the workshops’ while; but the thing is I immediately added the book to my “to read” list, as it can be really helpful in strengthening one’s personal relationships, too.

✱ Second activity. This was a guest talk with a personal old acquaintance with whom I had professionally worked before. I didn’t know, though, that he was an expert in mindfulness and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). During almost one hour he took me and all of my colleagues through a real self-knowledge journey. Consisting of three parts, the speech addressed thre principles: what is the most important thing in our lives — mindfulness, that is, clearing out minds by archiving everything and everyone that is not ourselves or isn’t under our direct control to change; concentrating on being the best possible person to whom or what we have archived once our mind is free and in peace; and figuring out that the most important person in our lives will always be that one who’s nearest to us in the present moment. It is very difficult to summarize everything I’ve learned this week in this single paragraph, and I won’t try to do it, but one thing’s for sure: that one set of three principles is certainly life changing.

✱ Some weeks ago I was in São Paulo with my son, as he was going to take the JLPT test. Now, 7 weeks later, his results came in by e-mail: he’s been successfully approved in JLPT N1 level! This has been a very nice way to start the week, both for him and for me. I’m very much proud of yet another positive result in his path towards living in Japan… ☺️

✱ This week, another reason for happiness in our family was my younger son’s birthday — he’s just turned 12. I can’t believe time flies like this, and that he’s just all growing up! We got the family together to celebrate and to make his day even more special with cake, candy and a lot of delicious treats! 😊😊

✱ My sister and brother-in-law moved from their apartment some months ago and we finally could make it to visit their new house. It’s a very nice two-store house with a pool and a fireplace and I could see how much my sister appreciates having been able to move there. That’s the kind of place all surrounded by nature that we all in the family know is what she loves. Besides, we had a meal together and the kids got to meet… the cats. I mean, they met them before, but Nick and Chica are with my sister for quite sometime now, and it was the first time my sons played with them in a while. Quite a memorable, fun night we all had together.

✱ I feel specially worn out this week, and the culprit is no other but work. Don’t get me wrong, I simply love doing what I do and working for the company I’m working for. It’s just that this week, in particular — and I foresee that the next one also, likely —, consumed a lot of energy. In the end it has all paid off, but it required extra work and dedication, not only my own but the one of some good friends. On to learning even more and to mastering these activities. I’m sure every cloud has a silver lining… 🙏

Mnemonic example for katakana テ (te)

✱ In my continued Japanese studies I’ve been experimenting with many different techniques in order to try to memorize what’s got to be memorized. Despite many things that I’ve tried, I hadn’t yet taken mnemonics seriously. But that was before I started to use jpdb.io to learn at least some kanji. Developed by a single developer, it uses a technique similar to that used in Heisig’s hugely popular Remembering the Kanji book to teach kanji, but using different keywords… and mnemonics. And the thing is, after using mnemonics for only a few days, I was successful in learning my first kanjis. That’s when it occurred to me that I maybe could use it to learn katakana. Man, do I hate katakana… they just don’t stick to my memory… but mnemonics could well be the answer… so I’ll try them and see if they work as well as they’ve been working for kanji… yet to be seen.

✱ I’ve watched a couple more episodes of One Piece this week and came to the 25th in the East Blue Arc, the story’s first act. The story keeps very interesting and it’s been nice to find out the past stories of some of the main characters. This makes me want to keep on watching the series. Oh, and I’ve also watched Uma Quase Dupla, an average Brazilian comedy movie featuring Cauã Reymond and Tatá Werneck, both famous actors here in my country. The popcorn I prepared to eat along it, though, proved to be better than the plot.

✱ Last Sunday it was Father’s Day here in Brazil. I’m lucky enough to live at a walk’s distance from my parents’ house, so I visit them often, almost on a weekly basis, and have plenty of opportunities to talk to them and to catch up with whatever is going on. Even so, last Sunday we all got together — my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, my wife and kids to have lunch and spend some family time together. It is always nice to do such things because I love my family. If it was Father’s Day where you live too, last Sunday, I hope you had the opportunity to be with your kin and with whom you love, spending some quality time together… 😊😊

Takeshi’s Castle Amazon Prime poster

✱ I used to love watching Takeshi’s Castle! It aired during the late 80’s and early 90’s here in Brazil — although in a licensed version, locally developed by Rede Globo, one of the Brazilian TV broadcasters — and made me laugh lots and lots. Later I found out that the original, Japanese produced show, aired in Brazil on cable, too, during 2018, on Comedy Central. The thing is Amazon Prime just released a remake of the show, currently a single season composed of 8 episodes. I’ve watched the first episode with my children and I could relive all the laughs I had with the original programs. Pretty nostalgic for me.

Lucas Moura, after scoring a goal last Wednesday

✱ I don’t usually talk about soccer here — although I support São Paulo since I was about 12 or 13 years old. But I needed to do it this week, at least this one time, first because São Paulo played the second of two matches trying to reach the final round of Copa do Brasil, aiming for the only national title it currently doesn’t have; and second because Lucas Moura, revealed in São Paulo during the 2010 to 2012 seasons and, to me, one of the best players the team ever had, returned to playing in São Paulo, after 10 years away, during which he played for PSG and Tottenham. It was partially thanks to him that my team won a place at the final round scoring 2-0 against Corinthians, one of its biggest rivals. Lucas scored the second goal, sealing the score and gaining us the opportunity to (maybe) finally conquer this last title. Yet to be seen, but coming this far was really, really nice.

✱ I know very well that one of the important parts in learning a new language is trying to practice writing — and by chance I’ve come across a very interesting resource online where it’s possible to do it… while journaling! I’ve heard many people praising journals as good means to put your learnings on paper, and Journaly does exactly that. You can write as many posts as you want in your target language in your journal for free, and have them read by people who are native and are there learning other languages. These people then read your texts, applauding them for incentive and also giving you honest feedback and corrections, all things that contribute to making you learn better. I found it very appealing for me and my Japanese learning, so much that I’ve created an account there, even though I’ve only had the time to post there once so far. Here’s what I’ve posted, by the way:

みなさん、こんにちは。にほんごのしょしんしゃです。よろしくおねがいします。またね!

✱ Still regarding Japanese, that’s not at all an intuitive language for me, as a western person, having been raised speaking an European language, Portuguese, to learn. And knowing English doesn’t help either, except for being able to find plenty of resources to learn by myself of course. In that sense it was very fortunate for me to come across Japanese For The Western Brain, a series of small essays describing Japanese grammar in a non-grammar way, that is, quoting Kim Allen, the site’s author, “[…] so that people who have a working knowledge of English grammar (such as what you learned in school, even if you’ve forgotten some of the details) will be able to compare and contrast English and Japanese grammar“. I’ve been reading it this week and I can say it’s a very spirited text, helping to prepare one’s mind to adjust to Japanese.

My results last Thursday 😊

✱ Keep walking, besides being the slogan of a famous beverage, is something I’m trying to improve at, for health reasons. It’s been sometime now that I’ve heard from a doctor that one should walk 10,000 steps daily — but that is not an easy task for many, me included. What I’ve decided to do was to adapt to the circumstances… using the 改善 (Kaizen) continuous improvement principles, I’ve established to try to meet 6,000 steps a day. Still not that easy for me but much more attainable at the moment. This week I got to reach the goal 4 in 7 days. And I still hope to improve in weeks to come… 💪💪

✱ I’ve never mentioned it here, but, during the pandemics I started a YouTube channel aiming to teach English to Brazilians. This was during the initial months of it all, and my employer at that time advised us all to remain home, for our own safety. But working from home was not a possibility for them, as they lacked the proper IT infrastructure to allow us to do so, and it ended up exposing us all to a situation where you’d stay home without being able to work at all. As I taught English as a Second Language in the past, it occurred to me that sharing my knowledge would be a nice way to keep my mind active. I ended up producing 40 videos from May, 2020, and reached a little more than 700 subscribers what, for me, is a real milestone. After these achievements, though, I quit it altogether by December, 2020. The reason? I was feeling stressed… totally caught in the net of social networks, I felt panic because I received no views, or not enough views, even though this is totally relative and actually doesn’t mean anything or doesn’t matter at all, and felt several other negative effects as well. After I quit, I thought about continuing to help people to learn English and a couple of ideas sparkled on my mind, although I never had the impulse to turn them into reality again. The reason I brought this up this week is because while studying Japanese with YouTube videos, I had some new ideas and I guess I can make this work again, probably without all the stress load I underwent sometime ago. I’m really feeling excited to create at least a pilot and a couple of follow-up experiments, so stay tuned if you wish, for more news soon.

The Don’t Touch the Spikes mobile game screen

✱ I’m really sure everyone has already played at least one mobile game that got on their nerves. I have played several, but this week I decided to remember why Don’t Touch the Spikes (iOS, Android) used to irritate me so much, all because my younger son has been playing it for some weeks now. If you don’t happen to know the game, its goal is pretty straightforward: tap the screen to make the little bird jump higher, release your finger to make it fall. Whenever you hit the wall the bird changes direction and you score 1 point. It is all endless — until you touch the spikes on the wall, when it’s game over. The goal is to score as high as you can. My son’s high score is 83 (at least by now), whereas my personal best is only 66, a score I got I don’t remember when, and that I’m aware of only because everything is recorded at Apple’s Game Center. This week I couldn’t get past 44, but I could clearly remember why it all got on my nerves: as with any games of this kind, you just… lose, for no apparent reason… you jump too short, or too low, or too high, but always at the right measure to hit the spike, and lose. But that’s ok (and expected, after all). This game’s most annoying feature, though, is the lack of an option to turn its sound off. There comes a time when this also gets on your nerves (and on your wife’s nerves), so you gotta stop to keep your marriage going… 😂

✱ I’m really decided to commit to learning Japanese. Thus I’ve paid for a month’s worth of LingQ content. I’ve used this app before while learning French and Spanish and I believe it’s a good way to find both audio and texts for practicing a target language. That doesn’t eliminate the fact that, for languages as Japanese, it’s necessary to learn the syllabaries first, before decoding the language, but I’m pretty confident I’ve made a good choice — and I’ve already started to have fun with it.

✱This week I woke up to find out that I had been victim of an unauthorized purchase made in one of my credit cards. Someone somehow broke into my Rappi account — one that I hadn’t been using for a couple of years and that now, due to the circumstances, I have properly cancelled — and used a card associated to my PayPal inside it to purchase 120 dollars in supermarket goods. So as soon as I found it out, through a notification received straight from my bank’s mobile app, I immediately got in touch with my bank, PayPal and Rappi personnel, so I could try to tackle this horrible inconvenience from all the angles I could. Long story short? The purchase was properly cancelled from all three perspectives. I closed my Rappi account, erased all my credit cards associated with PayPal and changed my password there, cancelled the virtual credit card used in the purchase with my bank and replaced it with another, brand new number, and spent a couple of hours changing and updating payment methods in several services I have subscriptions of. These are all securit measures to prevent future problems, but that doesn’t make the inconvenience smaller. I felt very angry with myself for this, as I’m usually very protective with my personal data (especially financially speaking).

✱ My two week vacations finished this week, so last Monday was time to return to work. I feel blessed every single day for having the opportunity to work from home — only occasionally going to the office, so I cannot say anymore, for sometime now, that I had the opportunity to stay home, because I’m always home these days. Still, it was very nice to be able to spend 15 days resting from work. Although I couldn’t fulfill my goal of finishing the reading of two books I was reading, I used my time to help my son with all the preparations we could see about for his (hopefully) upcoming scholarship. This included a real marathon where we went to medical appointments, blood tests, hours spent at notary publics (again) and translating documents. Now, I know every person has their own notion of fun, but believe me when I say that all of this was fun for me, specially because I know somehow I’m contributing with my son’s future.

✱ In terms of work, getting back was… intense. I’m involved in a very important activity which will need to deliver results between the end of this month and the beginning of September, and from day one, right from when I logged in again, I’ve been dedicated to it. It’s been challenging, but in a good way, as it has allowed me to learn a lot, and counting on the help of good friends. As the week went by, I could properly direct matters in a satisfactory way, so I’m both content and thrilled.

✱ It’s true I didn’t advance with the books I had planned to finish reading during vacations, but that didn’t prevent me from starting to read two new ones (yeah, tsundoku, remember?), both related to Japanese. The first one is Making Sense of Japanese, by author Jay Rubin, which while not intending to be a book about grammar in itself, ends up doing a fine role of explaining the language. The second book is 80/20 Japanese, by author Richard Webb — which I started reading later but has proven to be very nice in terms of demystifying the language. Now, I’m not a native English speaker myself, and that could represent a problem to me, as both works are meant to native speakers, but they are very clear and I’m certainly profiting from the new knowledge I’m having access to. If you happen to want to start learning Japanese, I can recommend both books, at least from what I’ve read so far.

✱ I must admit that I’ve been getting used to (most of) the ひらがな (hiragana) syllables I’m studying. I’m mostly using the Maru Kana app on iOS now, which I’ve found the most funny and nicest way to practice. I’ve also managed to get well used to だくおん (dakuon), small differences in the sound of Japanese introduced when the ゛(dakuten, or ten-ten) or the ゜(handakuten, or maru) diacritics are added to normal syllables, making か becoming が, or は becoming ぱ, for example. I have almost com to the point of starting to practice かたかな (katakana), but I feel I’m still struggling with (actually, confusing) the N (na, な) and M (ma, ま) character columns, as I’ve highlighted in the image above. Not sure why I’m confusing them at this point, but I’ll certainly overcome this obstacle by keeping to practice.

✱ After many, many weeks in a row without playing anything at my computer, I’ve come back to gaming (even though it was only for a single day). And it all happened because of a new roguelike I came across while watching random videos from Olexa, one of my favorite youtubers when it comes to reviewing new games. The game’s name is Another Farm Roguelike: one could say it is all about farming, but it is not… unless you deliberately want to, choosing the farmer to start. You can also be a lumberjack, a beekeeper, a merchant, a wizard… or even a dog! In essence, all you’ve got to do is to survive for 5, 6, 7 or 8 weeks depending on the difficulty level you choose — what doesn’t change is that every 7 days you’ve got to pay an ammount of money (as if it was a rent) to continue. Failing to do so means game over. In order to get money you can plant and harvest crops, gather resources, raise farm animals, fish and mine ores, among other things. Everything can be sold in this game. And every week, the rent goes up. A lot. Anyways, I fell in love with it while watching the gameplay and, to my surprise, when I went to Steam to check its price, I found out not only it is a very cheap gem, but also that it was in sale, for 50% off. I paid USD 0.66 for it… a real steal!

✱ My son received good news, again, this week. He’s now passed the national stage in his quest to obtain a Japanese college scholarship. The analysis process finished last July, 24th, and this means he’s now one of the Brazilian candidates who’s eligible to travel to Japan. From what I understand, now the only thing between him and the actual travel and scholarship is MEXT’s global stage: as this study opportunities are opened on a yearly basis to candidates worldwide, once each country where there are candidates select their approved ones, MEXT double-checks their available budget. As there’s not really a maximum number of approved candidates per country, anything from everyone, everywhere being approved to no one being approved could happen. The final answer, coming straight from the Japanese government, is due to be published by December this year. So all we can do here is to keep supporting our son with lots of positive thinking and good vibes.

✱ Parallel to all this waiting that’ll take place now, I’ve spent some of my vacations time this week driving my son around: there were still medical exams to be made, documents to be taken care of and other small details. I wasn’t planning on traveling anywhere, anyway, because I already kinda knew it would be necessary, so it felt nice spending this time helping him with what I could.

✱ I’ve unconsciously stopped reading books this week. I had plans to advance (and maybe even finish reading) two thick volumes I started a while ago, namely The Fiery Cross, the sixth chapter in the Outlander series, and The Elven Star, second in The Death Gate Cycle series, but ended up reading none of them, what will certainly impair my goal. Instead, I’ve been practicing ひらがな (hiragana) approaching it in a brute force strategy, as to say. To do so, I’ve used a couple of apps that allow me to see the kanas and tentatively write them on the screen, but also tried handwriting them. There are still some symbols that I forget, but as time goes by, I’m sure that’ll improve. Also, I’ve downloaded an app to help me read Japanese news, as part of an strategy I believe to work well, which is exposing myself to native content, even though I’m currently able to absorve next to nothing. What this has been helping me with is to expose my memory to the kanas I already know, so I can slowly record them. This is not a learning race for me, so I can and enjoy going on in my own pace — and it’s been fun, too, what’s most important.

✱ I’m not usually (that) interested in Brazilian TV shows, but I’ve got to admit that The Others, a original Globoplay production, called my attention. That’s a suspense story, starting when two kids get into a fight while playing soccer in their condo’s court. Their parents disagree on what happened and start conflicting. The lack of communication between the two couples — so common a failure in humanity these days — escalates by the hour and leads to unexpected situations. The story ends up by binding you, and that’s why I’ve binge watched all 12 episodes. I’ve also learned a second season has already been approved, so it seems the story will go on.

✱ I’m on vacations! That’ll be 15 consecutive days to rest… from my formal work. With all that’s going on with preparations for my oldest son to eventually get his Japanese college scholarship, I’ll be traveling a lot, only just inside our city: I’ll need to take him to perform some medical examinations, to the notary public in order to authenticate more documents, to his former school to retrieve a translated recommendation letter and to other places as well. Fun enough for me, because I feel I’m watering the seeds of his dream, so to say.

✱ As for my remaining spare time, if I’m lucky enough, I want to dedicate to reading — maybe finally finish The Fiery Cross, the sixth volume from Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, and The Elven Star, the second one in The Death Gate Cycle series. They’re both bulky volumes, so this is definitely going to be challenging, but still I want to try it.

✱ I’m also — still — on my quest to learn hiragana. I noticed that I started to forget some of the most recent ones I had learned, so I’m taking my time on this. I don’t have to hurry, after all. I’m also owing people who read my humble posts on this site a brief story of why I’m learning Japanese and other posts on my few discoveries. So this means I’m still determined to learn 日本語 in public… bear with me 😅😅

The meron-pan police van in MIU404
Shima (left) and Ibuki in the meron-pan van

✱ During the last couple of weeks my son would invite me to watch the melon bread series, which we have finally finished watching this week. Strange as it seems, melon bread would mean episodes from the MIU404 Japanese drama series, where a relationship develops between Kazumi Shima, an experienced, rule-following cop with a secret in his past and his new partner, an impulsive idiot named Ai Ibuki, whose impulsiveness makes him loveable. Only 11 episodes long, the 2020 is very enjoyable, as I surprisingly found out. The two main characters end up having to drive a meron-pan van instead of a normal police, or detective car, due to an incident taking place in episode 1, giving a humorous touch to the story and becoming, IMHO, the show’s trademark.

✱ I’m looking for some tool I could use to memorize vocabulary. I need to acknowledge my son’s determination for he’s been using Anki during all his Japanese learning journey — an app whose UI I find horrible, along with its awful UX. Besides, although his clear results, I’m not really a believer that Anki’s SRS is the best implemented one, nor that Anki is the best approach to learn Japanese at this early stage where I’m now… if you’ve read these week notes of mine this far and have any suggestions other than Anki, I’m all ears.

✱ Last Wednesday I took my son to the Japanese Consulate in São Paulo, where he had an interview following up his MEXT exam approval last week. Due to the interview requirements he needed to come all suited up with formal clothing, including a tie — which is an unusual way of dressing not only for him, but for me as week (I can’t even recall the last time I put on a suit). The whole interviewing lasted for about 20 minutes: so it felt to me he came back right after having gone into the room, but of course it must have felt like an eternity to him. He kept studying interviews for the whole week in preparation, and it was wise of him to do so, as he had to face four different people in front of him, asking him lots of questions in Portuguese, English and Japanese, all around and again. Right after the end of it, as we left the Japanese offices and stopped to eat something at a mall in the same building, my son told me all he could recall and it looked really promising.

✱ The following day great news arrived via email. My son did it! He got approved in the interview, meaning now he’s one step closer to being apt to travel to Japan, earning his college scholarship. The Consulate representative called him and other approved candidates via Teams for an online post-interview comments and orientations section. He passed the São Paulo stage and now has been recommended to the National stage. Once the analysis is done, what must happen by July, 24th, he’ll be eligible to going to Japan. Fingers here, as it’s been through all this process, are to be kept crossed 🤞

✱ Meanwhile, I’ve been working on my own Japanese learning. I love languages, being fluent in English, and having basic knowledge of French and Spanish, but Japanese, I knew from start, would be a totally different animal. From my standpoint it must be because of the three sets of characters that comprise the language’s writing system, hiragana (ひらがな), katakana (カタカナ) and kanji (かんじ). As I try to learn the first and most basic (also the most used one), ひらがな, using sites like Realkana and getting retention rates ranging from 87 to 92% in apps like Kana for practicing, I’m at the same time satisfied with my own progress and anxious to learn more. But I have to admit that some of these characters are very confusing, yet the language seems to be simple and structured in nature.

✱ To help me deal with all this Japanese input, besides my son’s assistance, I’ve decided to start logging the little I learn here, in this very same site. I’ll probably create a new post category named Japanese (surprise!) and whatever Japanese language learning I make will probably be narrated in Brazilian Portuguese (as it’s easier for me to use my mother language to note important and interesting discoveries along the way). It’s gonna be the learning in public principle all the way. I’ve even figured out a neat Japanese name for the posts: 私きょうまなんだこと, which translates to “what I’ve learned today”, or “o que eu aprendi hoje”. Stay tuned!

✱ Had my hair cut. It’s incredible how it annoys me when it starts to get even slightly longer than the usual. As I’m in a meeting on Microsoft Teams and I notice that single, annoying, strand of hair coming into my field of vision. But nobody notices that, someone could say. I do. I do, and it really gets on my nerves. So there’s nothing better than having my hair short, again. It’s really a relief.

✱ It had hinted us a couple of weeks ago, and now our refrigerator really did it: it’s gone to refrigerator heaven, where it’s probably nice and cozy. But as it’s done that to us, we needed to buy a replacement, which will take an average 6 workdays to be delivered home. Think of living with a half-working, palliative refrigerator. It’s a real hell, driving me nuts. Thankfully, this will all be soon behind us here, and maybe we will even laugh about it someday… 😂😂🙏