Orient Expression

2 July, 2008

Opening credits

Filed under: Uncategorized — pyrotyger @ 10:31 am
Tags: , ,

I had a dream last night that someone important (I forget who) was visiting my house, and I was hopelessly unprepared. This isn’t unusual, in dreams or reality.
What was unusual was that a kind person of my acquaintance (again, I forget who) had taken a moment to clear away the pile of unopened or unregarded mail behind my front door. I say pile; a more accurate term might be “drift”. Again, this isn’t unusual.
So I only realised this had been a dream upon leaving the house the next morning, passing that very same avalanche of junk on the way out.

Mail is a headache. While any piece of mail was a package of excitement and anticipation in my youth, once I hit 18 and started getting bills and regular bank-statements, I quickly lost interest. You start to become part of the real world, where paper communication serves a utilitarian function rather than – as most things do when you’re a teenager – some form of entertaining or social purpose.

These days my mail is roughly composed of:

  • 50% local freesheets of varying purpose and quality
  • 30% advertising junk
  • 13% bills/statements, which I can recognise within one glance and therefore needn’t open
  • 5% “No longer at this address” (going back 3 generations, I believe)
  • 2% “Ooh, I wonder what that is…?”

That 13% chunk still needs opening and checking periodically, of course, but it’s an annoying chore that can be avoided until you have the gumption to sort it out – like vacuuming, or updating your blog.
So only the 2% is of any real interest, and that means every morning I can happily trample over the strata of the last couple of weeks without giving a second thought to the fact that I May Already Be A Winner, I Have Already Been Approved For [something], or the front-page news that invariably includes a picture of pre-pubescent kids in hi-viz tabards holding brooms or binbags and looking very pleased with themselves.

This week was different.

This week, I received two things in the mail that made me happy.

First was the DS cartridge: Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten – my stylus-enabled Japanese Kanji dictionary. This thing is, as I had hoped, excellent. Hiromi was impressed, and I use it constantly along with my two-way Japanese dictionary whenever I’m doing homework. It’s all in Japanese so I’m still finding my way around, but it’s got pretty much all the functionality you could hope for in something like this, and most of the entries have an English definition against them.

I would heartily recommend this software only if your Japanese is at a sufficient level. If you’re somewhere around JLPT level 4 or 3 then you’ll be able to use this to great effect, but otherwise you’re wasting your time. Don’t try to run before you can crawl, especially if you have ragged stumps instead of legs.

Second, and probably more significant, was the arrival of… *drum roll*… my Diploma in Higher Education – Civil Engineering With Management!
Whee!
This is something I’ve been meaning to collect for some time (7 years), but never got around to somehow. It represents the two years of study I did attend at the University of Birmingham, and in truth I did rather well during those two years. It’s still my greatest regret that I never completed a degree course, and something I burn to rectify sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Maybe I’ll get a mail-order degree. The University of Mountebank sounds quite reputable.

Anyway, at least I got something out of it. The credits from this can be put towards another course of study, naturally, but I can’t really make any practical use of the qualification itself – it’s been too long since I did any real Civil Engineering to consider myself suitably qualified, although a Diploma could still get me a decent wage standing by the roadside in high-viz gear waving a stripy pole back and forth while some career-voyeur looks at me through a theodolite…
Yeah, I think I’ll stick with my current situation. I’d rather be ambling along a road to the future than standing on the hard-shoulder dodging traffic.

So, many thanks go to Dr Lawrence Coates, my old tutor and confidant, for so swiftly and kindly sorting this all out for me (and arranging the waiver of my outstanding library fees), and to Mr Kamel Hawwash for agreeing that I may as well have a with Management tacked on there, which will probably do more for my present career than the Civil Engineering part (“Critical path? Sir, I am the critical path!!”)

My tacky, mauve, faux-vinyl National Record of Achievement folder already feels heftier with the gravity of it.

Next, the JLPT?

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