Monthly Archives: February 2013

What god shaped hole?

The concept of having a god shaped hole in my heart is ridiculous. I hate how Catholicism claims that I will never be satisfied by anything of this life. It’s funny because it is only this life that I can be certain about. From what I know, today is all I have. I have to live it! The world may end tomorrow. I may get into an accident on the way home from work and die. I need to make the best of what I have in life now at this stage. Not the uncertainties that may or may not come.

You see, this is how Catholicism gets you. They say that I’m sick. I’m not satisfied and the only way I can get healed is by joining them. This is a lie. They say I won’t be satisfied by anything of this world. This is a lie. I need to pray to god and take part in his love for true satisfaction. I don’t need to pay tribute to any god. If I need to thank anyone it is my parents, friends, and those that have made sacrifices to get me where I am now. Their actions are more tangible than some ambiguous forces of a sky dad. I don’t know where this concept of a god shaped hole comes from. I wouldn’t have even cared or known about it in the first place if I wasn’t told about it since I was a child. Like all the other made up religious mumbo jumbo I was taught.

There is no god shaped hole. If there was then the vast majority of god believers should be happier, right? But this isn’t the case at all. There are depressed and happy people all over the spectrum of beliefs. A god has nothing to do with it. I have found happiness during my time as a Catholic and as an Atheist. But that happiness has nothing to do with my religious belief or lack thereof.

It has to do with my confidence. I have a goal in life. I am striving to live my life in the way that I think is best. I am growing. I am expanding my knowledge and outlook. I have circle of friends. People I meet and talk to regularly who help me and give their support. I have come to believe that happiness and satisfaction must come from within. It cannot be depended on people or material possessions. Both times I found happiness and satisfaction because I was building myself up. I was actively taking responsibility for my life. Catholicism doesn’t guide people to happiness. It says we’re all imperfect. We’re sick from the get go. From birth we are dirty creatures. The idea of sin is a very destructive concept for emotional and self satisfaction.

We all live in this vast world with SO many things to experience and try out. It is absolutely ridiculous to claim we can never be satisfied or find any happiness in any of it. Being inactive when so much is out there. To not strive for growth in life has a great deal to do with happiness and satisfaction. There is no god shaped hole. My life is in my hands. Happiness and success comes from my actions and desires. Balance of all things is the key.

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Filed under Atheist, Christianity, Development, Reflection

Translation isn’t so easy after all

My goal in life is to be an Japanese to English translator. I honestly have no idea how I am going to do this. But this is what I want to do. There is something about translating from one language to another that is fun. It’s like decoding a puzzle. I like the ones that I can understand easily. The ones I can’t, well, they just frustrate me. Becoming a translator is something I think about doing in the far, far future. I have other things that I need to achieve first before that. For example, obtaining Japanese language fluency.

I came to the realization that just because I haven’t gotten to the level of fluency that I want. It doesn’t mean I shouldn’t check out other avenues to improve the skills I have now. So, I started looking for online translation courses. I have one in mind that I am going to try in late spring. I decided to at least get a head start by buying the textbook the course uses.

It’s Introducing Translation Studies by Jeremy Munday. It’s an alright textbook, and it really is an introduction. But I hate books that introduce so many different terms and ideas at once. Then it just moves on to introduce a ton of other ideas and names in the next chapter. I like learning things in a more concise and in detail manner. This isn’t a bad thing though. I can be exposed to a bunch different ideas. Later I can then look into those of interest in more detail. I have about 50 pages left, and I would say that I learned new things that I didn’t think about before I read it.

To be honest, I want to be a translator but I don’t know about it as a study. I just figured people read a sentence and put it into the target language they wanted. I for a long time  believed that translation should be as exact and as much like the original as possible. But this book has opened my eyes to other opinions and ideas. Translating actually isn’t always that easy. There are many factors that can change the translation. Like who is the intended audience? What does this audience expect from the work? How can the original works ideas and feel be transferred into the translated text’s culture but still retain the same feel?

I like the case studies that are used at the end of each chapter. They’re interesting and put what was read in the chapter into perspective. For example there is a case study about the first Harry Potter book and aspects of its translation into Spanish and Italian. The Spanish version retains many of the names and places of the original without alteration. While the Italian version retained some names but tried to give a sense of what the names and places are of others in Italian.

This reminded me of the kind of alterations that people hated in translations of JRPGs. Chrono Cross is the only one that comes to mind at the moment. Like how they changed Yamaneko to Lynx for the English version. Yamaneko IS Lynx if you translate it to English. But for some reason or another people were pissed off about this kind of translating. There is an article on Hardcore Gaming 101 where they interviewed Ted Woolsey and other game translators. There is another that is about fan translation. I recommend them if that kind of thing interests you.

After reading this book, I believe that certain liberties can be taken in certain contexts depending on what is being translated. Taking the overall meaning and sense and then putting into how it would be found in English might work. But that might not be the best method. I know now that translation is far from an easy task. It has a lot of varying ideas. Some of which are interesting and I want to check into more later. I’m glad there is an extensive bibliography in the back.

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Filed under Books, Development

Consistency will win the battle

As I grew into my young adult life, I came to have an all or nothing personality. If I want it one way then it must be done to the end. If I fail to achieve it then I go in for a complete loss. I also have a hard time saving things for another time. Mostly with snacks and alcohol. That’s why I never buy snacks anymore. They’re all gonna to get eaten in one sitting. I am just starting to wane off alcohol. But I can’t just purge it from my life totally. You know, go cold turkey.

A lot of people have this problem where they might not be following their plan exactly. So they purge what is causing them to slip up completely. This isn’t really a good thing because 9 times out of 10, they’re going to just go in for a big loss. I know it because it’s happened in my own life all the time. Things happen. Going cold turkey is a perfectionist attitude. It doesn’t work because we aren’t perfect.

What I have come to believe is consistency will win the battle. I learned this while rereading an old AJATT article. Purging something from life completely is just a form of binging. They’re both extremes. If I want to quit something, I have to slowly ease into it. I need to set limits. Just small barriers to block off moments where I might slip up are enough. That will create patterns to make it easier to change. For example, I stopped carrying money when at work. The possibility is too high that I will buy beer on the way home. Just little things will do its part.

The concept of setting the bar low and showing up is important. While setting the bar low isn’t the best option because you’re hardly progressing. But at least it’s progress. 1 is still better than 0. Show up to the things you want. Do one lap. Do one word of your essay. Learn one new Japanese word. As long as some progress is being made then at the very least it isn’t a complete loss. The moment something is stopped completely it begins the cycle of degradation. It’s the daily little wins and successes that I accomplish. It’s those things that will build up in the end.

Maybe if religions presented things in terms of consistency and NOT just a perfect standard. Then maybe people wouldn’t feel like they’re worthless or sinful for not meeting that standard. I’m not religious or spiritual in the least. I don’t aim for perfection because it’s not possible. But it’s something to think about.

Don’t beat yourself up.

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Filed under Development, Encouragement, Reflection

Dislike about Japan 1 : Japanese drinking parties

I hate the Japanese nomikai. Nomikai means drinking party in Japanese. If you work in Japan, you will often be invited to such parties. Declining those invitations can have negative effect on your relationship with your coworkers. And not being invited to them usually reflects your standing within the business in a passive-agressive fashion. Japanese only have nomikai because they are so afraid of expressing themselves in public. So they need to release it with alcohol. Yeah, that isn’t very healthy. But this is seen as important for working relationships instead of being home with friends or family after a long work day.

Last year I wanted to be invited to them all the time when I was at my old school. Mostly because I wasn’t invited. So naturally, I felt like a subclass worker at the school. I wondered why I wasn’t invited. I knew they were doing things. Did they not want me to come? Did they realize it was ackward for both of us? I really didn’t know. I felt like I wasn’t a part of the team because of it.

Since the school I was at shut down at the end of the school year. I was soon placed at a new school. It’s better here and I get invited to each nomikai. They’ve been fun. I have been trying to adjust because it’s definitely something I get anxious over. Not only am I with a bunch of adults getting drunk. They’re my coworkers. On top of that, I hardly know what is being said. Not that I don’t understand. Instead, I don’t know the gossip the teachers are talking about. I am confused by their stories.

After the one on Friday, I can say that I hate the nomikai. First, I didn’t want to drink at all. I signed up saying I didn’t want to drink. Lately I’ve been trying to get into a habit of not drinking. I don’t drink as much as I used to just to get drunk. But I still tend to drink a few beers on a daily basis. I want to break this cycle. At the party, there were plenty of other teachers not drinking. So I wasn’t alone. But, I was coerced into drinking by the other drunk older male teachers. It was my own fault for not standing up for myself. I should have said no, but I just gave in. I need to recognize the power of saying, “No.”

Second, I was asked very personal questions. At the time I wasn’t bothered by it. I was drunk. I ignored them. But when I reflected on the night afterward, I totally had a very unsettling feeling. I brought up my girlfriend at the party because I wanted something to talk about. I didn’t want to just sit there and giggle over stories. Being asked by male coworkers if I had sex with my girlfriend yet, and other such questions is way out of line. This is the kind of relationship building that drinking parties are supposed to foster? At first I thought maybe this was culture shock, but I talked it over with my girlfriend. She said, “This isn’t Japanese culture. It wasn’t right of them. They were being perverted old men. They are scum for making you drink when you didn’t want to.”

Third, it’s generally very boring. I thought maybe it was boring because I was a foreigner with a bunch of Japanese. You know, cultural and language differences. But it seems like that isn’t the case. Many other young Japanese adults around my own age seem to feel the same way. They’re unsure of what to talk about with older coworkers, and find it hard to really get excited over the things being talked about. It’s a waste of time if you can’t enjoy talking and drinking with a crowd you like.

At the end of the nomikai on Friday, I found it hilarious just how fast everyone who wasn’t drinking bolted out of the restaurant. Makes you think.

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Filed under Japan, Reflection

Where is Tamako Market going?

I want to continue to like Tamako Market but I just can’t. At first the atmosphere and warmth from the show reminded me of Aria. Yeah, the slice of life about a girl who wants to become a gondolier. But as Tamako Market continues on into the sixth episode out of twelve, I am reconsidering just what the heck I’m watching. Will this show go somewhere? Is there an actual goal the characters are trying to achieve?

The cute pleasantness can only go so far without any kind of conflict or character development. While Aria does have a life is pleasant theme to it. There is also strong characterization throughout as the characters learn and get closer to their dreams. But what characterization does Tamako Market have? We haven’t seen any yet. The characters are bland, and don’t go out of their way to be or show anything more than what they’ve shown us since the first episode. Although we did have some development when it came to Tamako’s sister Anko and Shiori. But it was short lived, and didn’t have much of a lasting impression after watching episodes 5 and 6.

Even K-ON had alright characterization. Yui is very different from Mio. But then again to be fair I also hated the first season. It’s too short and much like Tamako Market I felt nothing for Yui and the other cast members for the exact same reasons I complaining right now. It wasn’t until the longer second season that really got me into K-ON and the characters started to grow on me. It had a lot to do with the mood of the series as a whole. And even though there isn’t a whole lot of conflict and the characters stay relatively the same. The kind of situations and stories told in the series were interesting enough. The second season is definitely very well done because of this.

Going back to the character development of Anko and Shiori, I watched episodes 5 and 6 in succession and I just forgot we had that kind of development in the previous episodes. It was like a total change in presentation. My main issue right now is with this lopsided love triangle that isn’t really a love triangle yet. Since we don’t know if Tamako has any deep feelings for Mochizo other than the childhood friend cliche. And who knows how that will pan out by the end of the series? My guess is it will be so tacked on. I just can’t see this show as being one where Tamako is going to cry buckets like the moeblobs from Kanon, Air, and Clannad.

The cuteness has definitely overstayed its welcome. It’s just there. I don’t get. I like it insofar that I can just sit and watch pretty animation. But then after it’s over it feels like what was the point? It’s like eating an entire bag of potato chips in one sitting. Feels good in the moment but when you check that weight scale. There is a bit of regret. We’re on episode 6 already and I really wonder what this show wants to be? It feels like Kyoani is just trying to cash off the concepts used in K-ON, but they’re failing at it. Maybe they should stick to doing what they do best?

Adaptations.

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Filed under Anime, Japan

We don’t need a progressive pope

The pope’s resignation has been an interesting topic lately. I can’t remember how I learned about it. But my first reaction as a status on Facebook was, “The pope resigned? Well, I hope this means they’ll get someone more in alignment with reality.” It seems like I’m not the only one to have such feelings.

I’ve been reading about how his resignation might bring a call for reform within the Roman Catholic Church. Commentaries on articles say that they want a “progressive” pope next. I don’t understand this. Christianity has certain core tenants and unchanging beliefs to follow. If Pope Benedict was as conservative and to the book as Catholic teachings could get about abortion, women’s role in the church and what have you. Then why are people up in arms about his role in the church? This is putting aside that he covered up the child abuse, and never punished those that committed them.

I think people just want to feel good. They don’t know why they’re here or what there is after they die. The thought scares them. They want to still hold onto the belief that they will go to heaven. But they want the next pope to be more progressive. He needs to be with the times because the current beliefs are old. Allow women priests! Allow abortion and contraception! Allow homosexual marriage! But have these people thought for a moment? Just, you know, quit following the religion completely and find something that agrees with your own beliefs and values?

It’s that easy. You could do it right now if you wanted. And that’s why I quit Catholicism when the brainwashing had no longer affected me. I came in contact with reasonable people after I left that setting and I found I had no use for Catholicism. No one was impressed by my belief. I was just using it as something to feel good about myself during high school. It was a waste of time. I got nothing from it. It didn’t help me feel better about myself. I only felt worse because I was sinning. Trying to live up to an ideal no one can reach. I didn’t even want that ideal.

But it was a struggle to give up religion. I couldn’t see how someone could live without a religion. I grew up in a household that taught a person needed some kind of belief. Then you would gather with likeminded people to celebrate that belief. So I researched other religions, but nothing I researched had fit with what I felt strongly about. Nothing sounded reasonable. It never occurred to me that just not having a religion is okay too. I didn’t need to force anything on myself. Just living, growing and experiencing the world works fine.

And I think that’s what religious people need to think about. Why follow something that doesn’t go in line with your core beliefs? If you’re complaining that the pope and Catholic Church needs to be more progressive and follow what the current trends are in the world. Perhaps you should try considering the option of just not following them in the first place if they don’t match. I don’t see the Church changing many of these beliefs they’ve held for so long. The easier options are either leaving or changing yourself to fit their beliefs. Otherwise you’re only living a lie.

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Filed under Atheist, Christianity

Why am I writing about my dad on Valentine’s Day?

Seeing how it is Valentine’s Day and all. I want to take the time to talk about my dad. Perfect topic, right? After my parents divorced, I lived together with my dad. My dad is a generous man but he doesn’t know how to express his emotions outwardly in words well. Take the Valentine’s Day chocolate I got from my girlfriend. I showed him the photo and he had this to say, “This is interesting, the fact that she made all this homemade and by hand tells a lot about her creativity and caring ways . Neat stuff ! Talk with you again.” It just reads as being stiff and hallow, but is it just how I am seeing it? He could have at least asked about her or shown some interest in my life. I don’t hold it against my father. That is just how he is. But this is what I had to deal with growing up, and it hurt.

My father never praised me. But when he did I never saw it as praise. It had a wooden feel to it like his words above. He didn’t acknowledge the kinds of things I was interested in. Nor did he try to foster anything in me. For example, I liked to draw but he never asked if I wanted to take art classes. I had brought this kind of stuff up to him months ago, and his excuse was that I had others in my life that provided support. After my parents divorced, of course I felt hurt. My father felt that if he tried to tend to those feelings I wouldn’t have listened. So just abandoning your son was the better path? I just don’t accept his answer. It was a mistake on his part. It forced me to bear the responsibility of my life at a very young age.

So instead of being a role model or emotional support, my dad was essentially just a provider. And because I saw him as a provider and not my own father, I treated him poorly and took advantage of his kindness. My freshmen year of high school was largely one where I skipped school. I played a lot of video games and stayed up late. My grades were poor because I never studied either. My dad didn’t care. He let me do whatever I wanted to do.

I grew up hating him for many years. People would wonder why I complained about my father since he was a kind man. While he did provide support, he was extremely protective. It sucked away my independence that I needed to grow. He worried too much and it caused me to worry. I grew up sheltered. I didn’t know how to socialize or interact with others. So I grew to avoid them like my father.

Moving away from home and living abroad has been a rough experience, but it strengthened me as a person. I also grew to see and appreciate my dad for who he is and how he expresses his support. He may not be the kind of father that I always wanted, but I know he does care for me and would gladly provide anything if it meant my wellbeing and happiness.

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Filed under Development, Family, Reflection, Relationship