My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Thursday, May 23, 2019


Somebody signed me up for wix.

So I looked them up on wikipedia:

Nothing but question marks. But it looks like it has been around a while.

They seem to have unresolved issues with improper use of GPL code (WordPress, who have their own SNS, BTW, which I also use a little).

Looking around their site, it sort of looked interesting. But there is no reasonable way to tell them to go away, and there is no way to contact a live person without giving them more information. They have an email address for me, why do they want more? If they are really legit, there should be some way to say goodbye without having to give them all sorts of private information.

Big no-no.

I will not be using or recommending wix.

In fact, at this point, I am recommending against using them. Negative recommendation.

If you don't know who they are, well enough. Don't bother. That's why I am not linking them here.

If you do, you should point them to this complaint and ask them to contact me. If anyone is at work over there, they should be able to figure out how. If they contact me, I might remove my negative recommendation here. But they will have to do some serious redesign of their services before I would consider using them myself, and, of course, I won't be recommending anything I don't use.

Mind you, this lights-on-no-one-home approach to business is all too common on the Internet, so they have lots of company. Not what I would call good company, but they aren't alone.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Green Teas vs. Black in Japan

I've been translating quite a bit of material for the tea market, in the mix of translation material that has been my means of trying to make a living lately.

In the process, I'm learning some things that reinforce my impressions about the differences between black and green teas.

I found a blog post ( written from the point of view of one who seems to think Japanese tea farmers should make more black teas, which blogpost contains a rather concise history of teas in Japan -- with a focus I really hadn't really seen before. It may explain why teas in Japan tend to be greener than black.

In the short version, teas in the first millennium ("Common Era") and the beginning of the second tended to be green, even in China. That was when tea was brought from China to Japan. Then Japan closed their borders for two centuries while Great Britain tried to take over the world. And Great Britain was fighting China with opium and other dirty tricks.

(Dirty tricks are dirty, even if the goal of opening China up could be viewed as somewhat noble, in case you need to be reminded about the dual consequences of European expansionism.)

So the Japanese tea market focused on, and developed an aesthetic around, green tea.

And Britain kind of helped move forward the trend in the rest of the world of focusing on the more intoxicating, more habit-forming black teas.

Japanese green tea, by the way, is generally prepared and consumed in processes that do not involve temperatures as high as with black tea, which is no small part of the reason that the beneficial chemicals in green tea tend to survive more and the toxic chemicals tend not to be produced as much.

So, I do not really recommend either black or green tea.

But I have been of the opinion that black teas tend to be worse for your health than green.

And now I have a bit more evidence of this concept.


Identify yourself!

Person with mail address pour_np3_liver@provider:
pour_np3_liver@provider というメールアドレスをお持ちの方、

I do not remember your mail address. I need more clues, or I must assume you are someone I don't need to talk with - a spammer or some such.

Which means I won't respond if you don't identify yourself.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

BIF-6809 Revived (near fig-Forth interpreter I put together in college)

I ported and modified a fig-Forth interpreter for a couple of my college courses about 30 years ago. It was for the classic 8-bit 6809 CPU, and I was not thinking clearly, so I mothballed it.


Anyway, I took time out of my schedule, two and four hours at a time over the last couple of years to resuscitate it. It now seems to be more-or-less as it was before I mothballed it the second time. It functions, you can write and edit code and save it to disk and load it back again. And you can write in assembly language.

Picture of method of booting bif-6809 on an emulator
Booting and testing BIF-6809 on the XRoar Emulator running Disk Extended Color BASIC

It's a bit primitive. Raw disk, no file system. 

And the call protocol is a bit baroque, using the direct-page mode in a way that will conflict with more general uses. 

I hope I can find the time to rewrite it with a more conventional call protocol.

If you missed the link above, you can find it here: (And here is a page for how to get started, and a page to help figure out what to do next.)

I would be happy to hear from anyone who successfully gets it to run on whatever they are running. (Contact me through the project page, please.)

Real Cocos or emulators, it should be just a matter of getting the disk image file bifsource.dsk in the second drive and tools.dsk in the first, and

EXEC &H1300

and, at the static white cursor, such things as


followed by



etc., more in README.TXT and BIFDOC.TXT.

Note that a "Q" screen is a 256 byte sector, where a regular Forth screen is a 1024 block of 4 sectors sitting on a 1024 byte boundary:

0000 0 $0000 $0000 == 0

1 $0001 $0100 == 256

2 $0002 $0200 == 512

3 $0003 $0300 == 768
0001 4 $0004 $0400 == 1024

5 $0005 $0500 == 1280

6 $0006 $0600 == 1536

7 $0007 $0700 == 1792
0002 8 $0008 $0800 == 2048

9 $0009 $0900 == 2304

10 $000A $0A00 == 2560

11 $000B $0B00 == 2816
0003 12 $000C $0C00== 3072

13 $000D $0D00 == 3328

14 $000E $0E00 == 3584

15 $000F $0F00 == 3840

Monday, December 31, 2018

Redirect: Book Review: Fighting the Promise by F. Allan Roth

Pardon my dust.
The link you are trying to get to is here:

Book Review: Fighting the Promise by F. Allan Roth

I've had to cut way back in my participation in the LDS Beta Readers group because of work, but F. Allan Roth was looking for someone to review his recent release, Fighting the Promise, and I had this feeling in my stomach that I should read it.

If you read the synopsis currently on Amazon, it sounds like end-times young adult action for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but it really isn't.

It's a thought exercise or experiment:
What if one of the enemies of the USA found a way to bring the country to its knees, and the leader of your religious community, in a religious address before the fact, told members of your religious community not to fight it -- not because war is wrong, but because it was the righteous judgments of God being poured out on a sinful nation?
But if he writes that as the synopsis, who is going to want to read almost 300 pages of preaching about how evil the USA has become in XYZ religion's point of view? (That's not what it is, but isn't that what you'd think?)

On the other hand, the way the synopsis stands, it kind-of sounds like Mormon end-times paramilitary fantasy. And I definitely do not think that is what it is.


Yes, he is preaching -- a little bit -- through a story that doesn't quite fit in any genre, although it brushes with end-times fantasy and paramilitary thriller. But, no, he isn't really preaching that way. No Nostradamus. No picking Isaiah's prophecies apart. No predictions of dates and such. No dystopian views of depraved society.

I think he wants the reader to think about a couple of things, and he buries his premise and hypothesis in a novel that brushes with and ignores all those genre and more.

There is preaching by allegory, but I think it is skillfully done. He doesn't waste the reader's time trying to tell us every little thing we should not be doing.

I think, if I were Roth, I'd have put in a preface, something to the intent that it's just a story, not trying to predict anything, especially not dates or specifics about which ally-enemy of the USA everyone should be watching. But such disclaimers tend to be read as irony in some circles, so maybe it's just as well he didn't.

The writing is still a little rough, but you should know I am not a fan of polished saccharine sweetness. (Should we call that Aspartame™ sweetness these days?)

The first three chapters made me roll my eyes. Thoughts on my mind as I read them:
That sounds strangely like something the president of the Church said recently. (Russel M. Nelson, at a temple dedication in Chile. But the message was not about the kind of war you fight with guns. It was about the better kind of war, where you struggle with your own tendencies to do the lesser things.)
No! Stop! Someone researching devices to detect the portable nuclear bombs that are the holy grail of terrorists everywhere would not let the border patrol agents demand that trunk to be opened!
No! The president of the US would not just roll over like that. And I don't want to sit through another top-secret action thriller tracking all the bombs down and kicking the enemy out.
Wait! When are we going to track all the bombs down and start kicking the enemy out? (Heh.)
After that, the delivery is something like what you'd expect from an old warhorse with war stories to tell. Parts of it even sound like war stories, how deep the snow was, how they got through the underbrush, how they took the helicopter down, ..., but now I'm treading on spoilers.

(If you can stand a little testimonial kind of thing, I find the portrayal of the main character and his wife encouraging and sort-of-applicable to my personal situation.)

I were the editor-in-charge, maybe I'd give it a preface, disclaiming intent to predict future events, etc., especially disclaiming intent to pick which of the ally-enemies of the US are most to be concerned about.

The story is a good story, there are memorable moments and gripping sequences. It's not a fun read, although it has fun moments and ends at an upbeat point.

And the thought experiment is a very useful one. Worth reading.

How many stars? Somewhere between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2, I'd say. YMMV.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Riding a Meme: Fairy Tale Accounting

Heh. Some finger pointing at fantasy budgets showed up on Basshook:

(Thank you, Carlos.)

Yeah, it struck a harsh chord. Lots of posts ridiculing CNBC for publishing that as a budget of a young person who is "Excellent with Money". (Ahem.)

But I think I've learned my lesson about just sharing without thinking. So I went searching for and read the actual article. And now I realize just how ridiculous most financial advice is. And how truly ridiculous CNBC is for posting this kind of garbage. (The information is not ridiculous. The analysis and conclusion are pure fluff -- not even decent fantasy.)

The chord it struck was harsh enough for me to not just share, but to write this webrant.

This guy is doing what they tell you to do. Charge what the market will bear. Spend less than you earn. Save as much as is comfortable. Give some to charity.

He estimates his income this year at USD 100,000. Thats 8 1/3 K average a month, calculated naively. (The naive calculation is a necessary first step when you don't have a company and management to shield you from the vicissitudes.)

Last year was $80,000. The year before, he doesn't say.

Item:Amt (USD)Notes
Rent:825Four roommates
Groceries:400Trader Joes, etc.
Health insurance:270 No explanation
Transportation:130Public and Lyft
House cleaner:30Shared
Cell phone:40Family plan
Dining out:250Girl friend (No movies?)
Donations:615Good for him.

Let's look at some of the things not mentioned in the pie chart:

Item:Amt (USD)Notes
Coworking space:350Sometimes he needs an office ...
Office (irreg.):1000~2000... only when he's really busy.
Google Sheet:???A "financial app he's developing.
MCAT studies:????What comes around goes around.
Video games:???"Sometimes."
Roth:(400?)(My estimate.) Good thinking.
Savings:(400?)(My estimate.) Good thinking.
Other dating:???I doubt they just dine out. Maybe Netflix? That might be a shared expense. Video games?
That's their business, but he hasn't really budgeted it. (And is not budgeting it a bad thing?)
Actually, I approve of not telling how much. That's between the two of them, really. Heh. Never mind.
Miscellaneous business:????Some of these were mentioned in the article, but if you add up the math there were likely quite a few.

He mentioned having "about $43,000" in savings, part in Roth, about $20,000 of it "liquid".

Uhm, liquid is not really savings. It's business capital and emergency funds. Necessary to have, but not really savings.

Okay, for doing what he's doing, he's on a fairly decent course. All the finger-pointing and general gossip on FB tends to miss a lot of important stuff.

(Well, CNBC could clean up their analysis significantly. This topic is not perfectly justifiable, but it really shouldn't be so criticized, either. Just, CNBC bloggers, clean up the analysis in your webrants!

Other news linked from that page is the sort of thing that can really suck people's productive time and thinking energy down the drain. It shouldn't be suppressed, but it shouldn't be so actively promoted.)

Back to this guy's budget.

I would have trouble doing things his way. Why? I am not fond of teaching the test. (I need to put up a better rant on that subject, but not today.)

One of the reasons I haven't started "teaching English" independently here in Japan is that the parts of that I think are valuable have nothing to do with tests, and the parents who want their children to "study English", and the individuals who want to "study English", aren't really interested in learning English. They are interested in test scores. "Better schools." "Better jobs." More pay.

I am, however, interested in teaching people how to communicate in English.

My wife would laugh at this. She says I don't know how to communicate. She sort-of has a point. I haven't bothered learning how to sell my opinions so that people will be interested in paying me money for them. Like this webrant, too long, and too much time thinking about things no one seems to want to think about.

Part of communication is, in fact, raising the signal that something needs to be communicated, showing that the message has value. Part of it is communicating things others need to talk about. These are things I need to work on.

But teaching the tests, themselves, No!

Tests are necessarily performed only in a single dimension, or, at best, in unit vectors of two or three dimensions.




(Yes, whoever uses "random" as an epithet, I'm answering you: Linear!)

Focusing on tests gets in the way of real communication. The tests themselves become the reason the average graduate of the Japanese school system studies English for six years and then feels like he or she can't actually "speak English".

They cannot tell us if the test taker knows the subject or does not. They can't even tell us whether the student studied for the test, because the test is supposed to be devised so that it can't be specifically studied for.

(Supposed to be. If the guy whose attempts at budgeting inspired this rant is not aware that he has essentially embarked on a game of strategy where his opponents are the testing companies, he needs to get his head around that. Studying for, and taking, the advanced tests is not just for a degree for him, it's a necessary business expense for him. And it may not be good enough -- unless he is already planning to retire from this game within a few years.)
And they do not teach how to communicate.

The only good thing about standardized tests is when the student lets the test motivate him or her to actually study the whole messy package. And doesn't get tangled up in the grade, as long as it's good enough to allow moving forward in school or the profession.

Please, can't we, as a society, graduate from one-dimensional views of knowledge, of the market, of politics, of economics, of life itself?

(Well, I should try to make my point here, but I really didn't have time to sit down and write this. Lots of other, more important projects waiting for me to work on. On the other hand, thinking about it might help me get the inspiration I need to solve my own problems, so ... . Well, I hope reading it wasn't wasting your time.)