Thursday, July 9, 2015

Odds and Ends

I did the JLPT again last Sunday. Gave it one more shot to see if I might pass it. I won't. The listening comprehension isn't too bad — it'd be odd if I didn't do well at that by now — and I can sort-of digest most texts they throw at you. But grammar... It's not just that I'm not good at grammar; it's that I find it boring and tedious, and really, really dislike studying it. "It's amazing what you can't accomplish if you really don't want to." as someone said.

So I give up on JLPT for now. I don't actually need the test for anything, and it robs me of the enjoyment I normally find in learning the language. Instead I'll go back to reading fun stuff again — I haven't read a line in my latest mystery novel for months — and on improving my writing skills. Real-world useful skills (such as knowing terms for "autopsy" and "blunt instrument") rather than test questions. Perhaps I'll try again in a few years.

We're going to Prague in a week. The CNS 2015 conputational neuroscience conference is held between July 18-23, and we'll hold a tutorial on using NEST, MUSIC and other simulation tools. I'll have a poster on our current work of course, and there are some interesting-looking workshops at the end of the conference. While I work, Ritsuko will spend the week rambling through the streets of Prague.

I've been to Prague once more than 15 years ago, as a grad student, and I remember it as perhaps the most beautiful city I have ever visited. I'm both anticipating and dreading the return visit. I hope that it will be as amazing as it was that one time; and worry that my nostalgia-tinted memories are setting me up for disappointment.

The weather is uncommonly lousy this year. We have two typhoons approaching at the same time (I hope our flight next week is OK), and it's been raining almost every day the past few weeks. The only upside is that the train smells less of Eau de Sweaty Salaryman than it usually does this time of year.

But this morning, as I was walking from the station, I heard the cicadas for the first time this year. Not a lot of them, yet, and the morning drizzle put a damper on those that were there, but at least there's hope that the rainy season will soon be over. It better be; our umeboshi will need sun-drying in a few weeks.

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