New Blog!

Hey there! I've decided to continue blogging at a different blog. The MEXT archives and some of my travel posts will remain here, but I'll be moving some stuff over. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

NaNoWriMo - I An Officially A Winner!

I did it! Today, in exactly four weeks! I've written just over 50 000 words. Granted, they're not very good words, but this is the longest piece of fiction I've ever written. I even have a cool looking Certificate, that is a PDF file, so you'll have to wait a little longer for the image.

In the meantime, enjoy the biggest badge they have :D

Ok fine, I enlarged it anyway. I'm way too happy. 

You may be wondering what my plans are after NaNo. Well, I'm going to ask/burden my friends with the novel, and hopefully not see it for however long they take to read it. When it gets returned, then, well, we'll see. I haven't made any plans yet. I'm just too happy to have actually won.

Yeah. Basically psyched to have won on my first year. I might even take part again next year, if I have an idea.

To everyone else. It's just a little bit more! You can do it too!

EDIT: I forgot about this yesterday because I was a bit of a rush (I had a test today), but I should definitely mention that I couldn't do this without two groups of people.

The first group would be my awesome friends - Becks, Nic and Ray (yay! Alphabetical order!), who, although they gave up on Day 1, kept encouraging me the whole month. Thanks for listening to me complain about writing, and for offering to Beta Read despite how busy all of you are.

The second, no less awesome group, would be the Google+ crowd. It was basically all your daily posts, updates that kept me going, and the encouraging messages I got. You are all awesome people, and I would be happy to help you in anyway I can. Hopefully, we'll all be doing NaNo together next year too!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Random Musings: Lifelogging (クローズアップ現代ライフログ)

Image taken from NHK
Every Monday, my class does this really interesting listening practice, where we listen to actual news, as well as watch and discuss this NHK sereis called クローズアップ現代 (Close Up Today). It's like a talk-show, exploring one concept in detail each episode. Today's episode is on LifeLogging and it's a really interesting concept.

Some kind person took a screenshot of the topic. 
I couldn't find the whole video, but NHK has put up the introduction and a write up in the link here. If you can read/listen to Japanese, you should take a look before continuing this post.

For those that can't read Japanese, Lifeblogging is this concept where you record every single thing you do. We saw people who obsessively take photos to document the experience, a guy who records the time of every activity (even brushing his teeth) he does and even a person who uses an app to remember to keep in touch with this friends.

Personally, we think (and I think) that this is too far. We have blogs and facebook, but none of us feel the need to tell the world what we're doing at every second (if I start doing this, unfollow me). In particular, we all disagreed with the "remember to connect with friends app". I can understand if you're using this to sustain business connections, but isn't it always better to develop a friendship with a person out of genuine interest rather than having an app remind you to do it?

And really, it's too time consuming. Perhaps I'm lazy, but I don't know how I'm supposed to find the time to record everything. I suspect I'll end up recording life instead of actually living it.

Which brings me to my main point. A lot of times, people use photos and stuff to record their lives. Nothing wrong with that, only that if you're forever behind a camera, you fail to actually experience the event. I take loads of photos, but I do that because I'm moved (by some sort of emotion), rather than from a goal to record my whole life.

Sometimes, I think life is more interesting when 懐かしい(natsukashii - it um, it means, roughly, looking back fondly on the past). The guy who records every detail of his life? He says that now, when he looks at the images from the past, it no longer holds any nostalgia for him. How sad.

I still hold lots of fond memories of my first trip to Japan, and trust me, the parts I remember and love the best, I didn't take photos. The photos do jog the memory now and then, but I trust that I will always remember the important parts.

To me, there's no point in outsourcing my memories to the computer.

What do you think? Am I making sense? Or is keeping a lifelog a sensible thing?

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Instant Ramen Reviews #2

Oops, I forgot to write this. In fact, I think I'll have only tried two kinds of Ramen before Euphe comes. Sorry Euphe! I'll do more research and bring back the kinds you'll like the next time I come back!

Alright, this ramen is supposed to be pork curry instant ramen. If you like Japanese curry, this is definitely for you. It comes with a few packets, like the first one I tried. And yeah, I remembered to take a photo this time.

And this is the ramen after it's been prepared.

It really does taste like curry, although for someone like me, who is on the "amai, sweet" scale (read: no spiciness at all) scale of curry, it may be a little too hot. But only if you're as sensitive as me.

And amazingly, there were bits of meat in the noodles! It was very very little, but it was recognisably meat. But still, you shouldn't assume that it makes this healthier, the amount will meat meet no daily calorie requirements (except for the fat/carbohydrate ones).

This is for curry fans!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

NaNoWriMo Week 3 Update

Woah, a little more than a week and NaNo is over! (and my exams start, which is not a very pleasant thought).

This week, I fell behind a little. During the weekend, I didn't write and I couldn't find my muse. But I did have a really awesome momiji-gari, which refreshed my brain. And because of that, in the past two days, I've almost caught up! I think I'm only a few hundred words behind the target. With any luck, I can get a headstart by the weekend (in two days!) and end slightly before the month.

You see, I have an exam on November 30th, so if I don't use the three days of break (we're on break because my University is having a festival!) to get ahead, I don't think I can win this year.

On the other hand, I'm quite happy with my story. It's probably no good, but it's the most I've written (for one story) ever. The plot went in directions that I didn't even expect when I started (and what little I tried to plot), and I'm so happy to see more characters coming out!

Of course, it figures that my two protagonists try to get together even though they're unsuitable =.= I didn't intend for that, but they learnt their lesson pretty quickly, and neither of them will be trying to be together with a person that makes them lose their temper anymore.

To all my fellow NaNo-ers, ganbatte! It'll be over soon!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Remembering a Special Day (Autumn #2)

I must thank Dinh for reminding me that yesterday was November 18. One year ago, this was a really special day for me - it marked the end of IB and the start of an awesome trip with my Interact Friends.

Our shirts are designed by the talented James
The trip proved that you don't need to spend a lot of money to have fun. I can't believe that one year ago, I was celebrating my new-found freedom. Now, I'm marking my seventh month in Japan. I really do miss all my friends.

I may have stayed in England for a year, but I'm still used to hot weather. I'm finding autumn really cold. So attests my heating bill.

Seriously, I just want to sit in the sun.

But so pretty.

So Very Pretty

Pretty Pretty Gaidai.

Yesterday, the fateful November 18th, I went to Okutama for Momiji-gari with the other Singaporeans. I'll do a proper post once I sort out the photos, but in the meantime, enjoy the two instragram photos I remembered to take:

Okutama lake is really pretty

And here's some Momiji to tide you over.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

NaNoWriMo Week 2 Update

So we're at the halfway mark! And I've managed to make it to the halfway mark of the target! (That's a relief, because if anything, the amount of time I will have left to write will be going down).

Hmm... what was the past week like?

Well, I've been falling sick. I'm falling sick now actually. It must be the weather, because although I spent a year in England (and got locked out of the house in Winter), I'm still born and bred in humid Singapore. Temperatures of 5-15 degrees (Celsius) aren't working too well. And apparently, it's going to get colder.

So that was a few mornings where I didn't write for 30 minutes because I chose to sleep a bit more instead.

And there's school. I just finished a presentation today (on Singapore's ageing society), and the preparations just wiped me out. I still can't believe I did a resume (basically, an outline of your presentation that is distributed to the listeners), research and a presentation in Japanese. So less time during the day to write (not to mention all the Kendo).

To make things worse (writing-wise), I'll be going out this weekend, and next week, when my school festival starts. Unless I get a head-start again, I won't be finishing this month with 50k.

On the bright side, I am reaching my aim of developing good writing habits. I've been using Evernote to jot down quick thoughts that come when I'm about to sleep, and I've been getting use to writing everyday (even if I only write a hundred words.)

Plus, I've managed to compile my manuscript from Scrivener without gibberish coming out (I'm technologically challenged, despite the fact I was in the Robotics Club).

Ok, so this has been a good week.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Christmas Lightup at Tokyo Station/Nakadori (Christmas is starting?)

I just noticed that my last post was my 100th post! And it was on NaNoWriMo(;

So to get back to Japan, yesterday, I was actually at the Marunouchi/Otemachi district. I was actually there to attend a job-hunting seminar (being the typical kiasu Singaporean, I'm starting before I even enter university! Although in my defence, I started in Secondary School). It was pretty useful, with things on how to stand, how to sit, how to enter the interview room, etc.

After the seminar, I changed (I hate wearing suits!) and Emily, Reuben, Eileen and I went to go see the Nakadori lights. And it really is pretty!

I really wish I brought my DSLR, but I only had my camera phone... Still, I managed to get a few pictures of Tokyo Station:

While it was light
At night
I really should make the effort to go back there one more time during this Christmas season. (But really? Christmas season has started? O.O)

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

NaNoWriMo Week 1 Update

So today's day seven of NaNoWriMo. I'm not as shiong (this is a hokkien word that means fierce, but also means intense - so that's the word I was looking for), as some of my nano buddies on Google+, but I'm quite happily plodding my way through.

I've managed to get some really good writing habits that I can hopefully keep up. I'm writing about twice a day - once in the morning, and once at night. And because I'm using Scrivener, I'm finding it really easy to write by scenes. You see, the problem with me is that I don't have a set plot, and my characters sometimes tell me to write certain scenes first. So it's only as I write that the bigger picture becomes visible.

And it's looking quite cool. My muse has been very annoying (she works mainly when I want to sleep, which leads to frantic phone tapping), but she's working all right. I never imagined I could write as much as I have already have, and the story is totally different from what I thought it would be.

As for word-count... well, I'm not too worried about it. I didn't actually check until Day 4, and I haven't checked for about 2 days. But the last I checked, I'm doing ok. And well, winning would be nice, but for me, the point is to get into the habit of writing everyday.

Speaking of writing everyday, my fellow nano-skype buddies all gave up on day one (yes, I mean you and you know who I'm talking to). I can't blame them though, this isn't the most ideal period, for example, it's exam season in many different places. And school > NaNoWriMo (sadly).

How have you been doing? Is your story as you expected, or is it a lot different?

Monday, 5 November 2012

Ikkyosai (Hitotsubashi University Festival)

So, over the weekend (ok, on Saturday if you want to be exact), I went for Ikkyosai with Rena. In order to support Matthew-senpai (who's from AC like me), we both skipped Kendo. Oops. But then again, it's important to stay together as a Singaporean community.

The festival was actually really cool. It started at the station (Kunitachi), which is some ways before the school. So imagine, rows of stalls lining the street! And just before the school, one of the stalls had a goat!

An actual goat! Which apparently looks like it will eat anything. 
We got there a little early, but since we got lost, we ended up at the concert hall at the right time. Matthew Senpai is really good with the piano! O.O

After the concert, we decided to walk around a little:

And eat. Eating is important, and this hotate was delicious! Probably my favourite festival food!

Is this adorable? I think it's a seal in the festival outfit. I'm not sure though...

Balloons are, likewise, awesome!

And after walking around a bit (after the concert), we decided to go help at the Singaporean stall (they really really needed help.

And I got a new profile picture thanks to my friend Han (her name in English is Kim Hang) and her amazing camera~ I really needed one after my hair got cut :D

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Instant Ramen Reviews #1

This is for you Euphe!

In preparation for my family's trip to Japan, I'm going to sample different types of Instant Ramen to let my sister and dad (big instant noodle fans), decide which they should try, and which they should cart home.

So, here's there first Instant (Japanese) Ramen that I've tried since I came to Japan:

The noodles are some kind of beef-noodle (quite peppery) soup and I'm happy to say that the noodles look almost identical to the ones on the packet!

I forgot to take a picture of the packets, but there are about three, including one packet with just (I think it's) beef fat, to make the noodles more fragrant (which it does). Um, Euphe, you might want to skip that, although I think it would affect the taste.

There's no meat inside (sadly), but that's to be expected. The taste is good, although since I'm not that big a fan of peppery noodles, I probably won't try it a second time (unless, like when I was eating it, I had a cold. In that case, it's comfort food).