Archive for the ‘japanese’ Category

Magnum opuses, part 2

The glory of summer did indeed hamper my progress on both of my magnum opuses.  I gave in and shoehorned Ubuntu onto my computer.  It is working fairly well but I’m tempted to give Fedora 11 a try.  I cut my Linux teeth on Redhat (and worked for Turbolinux ~= Redhat) so I might just be more comfortable there.

On the 1Q84 front, I have fully translated two pages.  That’s right, two.  Oh well.

But back to Linux.  Today, I was kinda bummed that I couldn’t find a good way to adjust the LCD brightness from the command line aside from variants of  the technique mentioned here, so I wrote a pair of programs to do it.  Find them here.


Chado, as my teacher at Urasenke Seattle, Bonnie Mitchell encourages me to call it in English, or sado as my Japanese friends encourage me to call it when I speak Japanese, is the art of Japanese tea ceremony.  Chado (茶道) literally translated means the way of tea: 茶=ちゃ=cha=tea, 道=どう=do=way=path.  The do in chado is the same do as in kendo, the way of the sword, and bushido, the way of the warrior.

Chado is an ancient practice which originated in China and was imported to Korea and Japan.  Chado was passed down through generations of Zen masters who dedicated their lives to perfecting the art of tea.  Its roots in Zen inform the minimalist aesthetic of the tea room, the meditative nature of the ceremony, and basically every other aspect of the art.

The ceremony itself can appear subdued or affectedly formal on the surface but every person in the tea room from the host, to his guests, to the last object in the room plays an active role in creating the experience.  The host must choose the objects in the room with a sensitivity to the environment, the season, and the occasion.  The guests must learn and follow the established protocol of the tea room.  The host imbues every motion with meaning and each guest gives purpose to the host by her participation.  Like in tennis, or anything for that matter, there is duality in the tea room.  Every query from either host or guest has a natural response.  Every motion has a counter motion.  Especially in this aspect, the Zen philosophy comes through.  The art of tea is an expression of harmony.  Yin and yang incarnate.

Magnum opuses, part 1

Even though we are in the throes of the glory of midsummer, I have undertaken two huge projects that have kept me indoors far more often than I would like to admit.  The first project is attempting to read “1Q84” by Haruki Murakami in the original Japanese.  For barely an intermediate student of Japanese, this is a huge undertaking.  I have fully translated a single page.  In doing so, I have gathered the essential tools around the two volume novel in a prominent corner of my living room so it will be relatively easy to pick it up whenever I have a few moments.

The second project is building a distro-less Linux installation on my netbook.  A couple months ago I got a Samsung NC20.  I tried to install Ubuntu 9.04 on it but the installer wouldn’t launch due to a video driver problem.  After reading about others having the same problem, I played with Gentoo for a while.  That caused me some pain and eventually, my compiler inexplicably broke.  In the course of my journey, I learned that the computer has hardware crypto so I set off playing with hard disk cryptography and hardware random number generation.  Since it’s there I want to use it and, since I don’t want to use Gentoo anymore, I basically have to do linux from scratch.  I had an inclination to do that right from the beginning but the practical side of me wanted to just be done with the installation process.  After hitting a few snags, I decided to go ahead and treat it as a project and reacquaint myself with the state of the art of the GNU/Linux world by building every package from source.

So those are they, my magnum opera.  I have no fear that they will not get done but my progress will accelerate as the glory of Seattle’s summer fades into grey.  For now, I’m content to procrastinate on them whenever the sun is shining.