Customs and Immigration

I am not sure what is it but it's my experience that Chinese immigration and customs has to be the most easiest and straight-forward amoung all the countries I have been to. I guess they have so many people they cannot be worried about too much or they are just worried sick and want to get it all done quickly. All I can say is Canada needs to learn from the Chinese and loosen up a bit.
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Here is another word that many people may not have known existed. Karoshi. The word origin is again Japanese and until recently has been accepted by the English language. The meaning, death from over work carries the same meaning over from the Japanese. I admit it�fs a rather dark topic to bring up here but an interesting one such that Japan has a society up until fairly recently has been a work work work 6 to 7 days a week. As far as I know the Koizumi government has relaxed this quite a bit in the recent years. I�fm not so sure if the acceptance of the word karoshi into English was due to the fact that there are more people dying from overwork. Let�fs hope not. Let�fs slow down the pace and stop to enjoy the flowers!
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I am not sure if it is just my browser or not but I have been having trouble with the fonts that have apparently changed due to either something I have done in code or just my browser. If it is the code then it affects everyone if it is just my browser then it should be just me.


Internationalization: Westernization??

I have been thinking about the tern "Internationalization" and what it means recently. It has been a much discussed topic while I was on the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme from 2000 to 2003. No one has really been able to come up with a clear definition.  One is left leaving the discussion table with as many ambiguous examples as they started with. To this day I am still confused as to what exactly is it. International relations, on the other hand is a little less ambiguous but still there is the question of how can it be applied. International relations occur when people and cultures interact. In the best case one develops a greater understanding of oneself and an appreciation of others.
After having traveled the world extensively I often wonder how countries often seems to think of internationalization as "westernization". in my opinion it is a sad reality that too many people/countries have no clue as to what to do to "internationalize" so they "westernize" instead thinking that this is "internationalization". Of course it is one aspect but let's hope that this becomes the definition and the end all for the debate on internationalization.


Text link traffic

Here is a text link based traffic generating system like blogmad I'm not sure how it works but I'll be sure to post the results here. Click here to find out more.

Task based language films

I am getting into the idea of short 3 minute films featuring some sort of task-based learning activity. The point being that the film be script free in order to be more like a spontaneous conversation because conversation is not a memorized dialogue. I beleive that the way to improve conversation in any language is to find an activity and do it in the foriegn language. That way you forget about the language and as you get so absorbed in working with the newly acquired activity. This is the way I learned four languages myself. The funny thing is people seem to believe me but hesitate in actually doing it because it seems as though it takes too much energy. I guess those people would like to learn passively by simply turning on the TV and laying back on the sofa. I have a feeling (in fact I know from experience) that the older generation of teachers in particular the developing countries will see these films as merely cultural moments of "entertainment" for students rather than a real learning experience. It is these teachers who believe in the old rote memorization of vocabulary and dialogues. Fortunately there are the younger generation whom are increasingly keen on new materials but have no access to them.
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Teaching in China

Another unbareably hot humid day I dislike staying indoors but as it rained this afternoon I really have no other choice. After installing Google Analytics on my site I never realised how useful a tool it was. I have several pages about teaching in China, which I have posted. Nothing special just my experiences teaching in China and how to go about getting visas in order to teach legally in China. What surprised me most of all is the keywords people are using to get my pages on teaching in China. People were actually reading my content so I am going to have to work a little extra harder in order to bring in more updated content about not only teaching in China but Japan and Taiwan.
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What to do next?

With all the free time I have I cannot believe that I managed to get away with missing yesterday's post here. Now that I will be soon unemployed once again I have been listening to people and thinking about some kind of service to offer because working for someone else is really tiring and it is about time I need to go on my own. It seems as though that teaching online is surprisingly easy to set up but the difficultly is ofcourse advertising yourself. Sales is something we all cannot stand doing but as someone once told me selling your own product is a whole lot easier than selling someone elses product. It maybe true but my socialist side of myself always seems to come out more than my sales side and I eventually begin to sell my own product short to the piont of giving it away for free.
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Photoshop Tutorial CS2 : How celebrities use photoshop in magazines

Here is a good video photoshop tutorial on photo manipulations. I'll need to try this one soon.

Densha Otoko - Investigation

For fans of the acclaimed Japanese drama Densha Otoko. A Japanese variety show films random otaku in Akihabara via hidden cameras to find real-life versions of the protagonist in the drama.

Enjoying Sushi

Here is a rather humorous video on how to enjoy sushi!



I was quite surprised when I called up the Chinese visa office in Hong Kong to find out how easy it is to get a tourist visa. Getting a tourist visa to enter Canada for Chinese on the other hand has become easier of the years but still it is a lengthy time consuming application process. They need to show family background and incomes etc etc. We all know Canada is full of BS and that their red tape is one of the most confusing in the world. There is no population in Canada and there is a lot of wasted space. What are they worried about? Canada does not seem to worry about white Europeans entering the country then why not Asians? It is all about skin color and who has money? I was thinking about this and Taiwan-China relations. Chinese from the mainland are still not allowed to come here freely except on designated tours to designated places. This is disgusting, period. Everyone else in the world can come here freely why not allow the Chinese form the mainland? After all it is just a tourist visa, and it is only temporary. It is not a permanent residency or naturalization. Tourism is a strange thing. People want to encourage it because it brings money boosting the economy but when they limit tourism to just skin color or those with money then it is wrong. Who says that we do not have apartheid - Europeans and Asians/First Nations living on reserves it is all the same. As long as countries and territories continue to exist then there will be some form of apartheid. Nationalism is just the rooster crowing proudly on his own pile of shit. I am not saying that we all should promote tourism heavily because tourism does have its problems and is like cows overgrazing on pasture. Eco-tourism is interesting and may have its place in today's money driven economies.



I didn't think the typhoon would actually hit us here but I guess it did come by early this morning leaving a trail of heavy rain in it's path. Well I can't say that it is very heavy rain because real heavy rain is easy to photograph while this rain is too light and is practically invisible. I call it the boring rain. I'm trying to thing of the most practical way to get to Mainland China from Taiwan before going back to Canada. The problem with Taiwan is that you cannot go direct to China except via Hong Kong. I do not like the idea of lugging baggage through Hong Kong to get the tourist visa and carrying it though the Hong Kong - China border. So I thought why not leave it here and return to Taiwan from Hong Kong  after a week in China and then leave Taiwan. I think I have no other choice.
One thing I do not like are travel agents. They always tell me what I cannot do and try to sell me what I do not want. Buying direct from the airline may just be the only way exept not owning a credit card makes things worse.


Teaching Resources

I managed to get a hold of a copy of the book Putting it Together: A Conversational Management Text by Kevin McClure from Amazon as far as I saw it was the last one in stock or maybe each Amazon book shop has a different inventory. The book is going out of print soon but still by far in my opinion a very good book for beginner to intermediate language learners. Very few books on teaching ESL break the conversation into beginning, middle and end. This book shows students how to begin, continue and finish a conversation like a native speaker. Good quality cheap teaching resources are hard to come by but those we find often become out of print. I have been accumulating a both on-line and off-line (hard copy) of teaching materials in the hopes of one day beginning to teach classes 100% on-line. I see it as the wave of the future for those who cannot attend classes but I still see the problem with too many schools and language courses (especially English) just trying to advertise themselves as having the image of the blonde blue eyed rather that high qualifications and experience. We need a no non-sense language school that truly believes in high quality education and not appearance.


Democracy is con job you got fooled

"Democracy is a con job you got fooled"
As I was walking home after getting something to eat I passed a man with this on his T-shirt in big green letters. I couldn't get my camera out nor could I ask the guy if I could take the photo but do I wish I had that T-shirt or a photo of it now.
As for Taiwan being the only Chinese speaking territory with a democracy as far as I know, I find this quite amusing to see here. I was thinking in particular how all those places with democracy all seem to have one thing in common - sucking up to the United States, while not particularly liking the American government.
Speaking of slogans on clothing, I remember seeing a baseball cap in the window of a store in Quebec city one time with the words: "Fuck la mode" with Calvin Klein logo next to it, in other words , "Fuck fashion". The problem with not having a camera around with you at all times or not being prepared to take a photo at a moments glance is that you are sometimes not even sure if something is true or not. I have one example, such that I seem to be able to recall the T-shirt or photo thereof I saw somewhere with the words: "Fuck Democracy" but this cannot be attested to at all. Oh well a few moments of uncontained laughter is what we all need. Just seeing that T-shirt made my day anyway and brought back some memories of the things people wear on their clothing.


Time to move on

The time has come, I will be leaving Taiwan August 28. This will mean that I will no longer be doing any up grades or technical maintenance to any of my homepages until at least the 10th of August. I will be continuing to post on all blogs up until the 28th of July. After July 28 I will be posting on only on this blog (www.projecth2o.org/bzhuo). Normal operations will resume after August 10th. All Japanese lessons at CafeManabi.com will continue to function without any further new lessons planned until August 10. Thank you.


New blog look

After careful thinking about upgrading my wordpress from the current 2.0.2 to 2.0.3, it doesn't seem all that difficult but I am just wondering when is the next upgrade going to come out. Then I will have to back everything up and upgrade again. I have been looking for a new blog template and got this one. I am not totally satisfied with the design but it does look a lot cleaner than the last template. Like pottery, sculpture and photography webdesign is an art, a science and should be considered a way of life rather than a profession. If anyone clicks on a Google Ad I am neither happy nor sad. I accept it for as it is. The same with web site traffic, it's a way of life. So what if you do not have a million visitors a day, be happy for what you have. Hey, if any one is considering downloading the Qumana blog editor I highly recomend it. It makes blogging far easier and everything can be done off-line for those who still use the dial-up connection or those who pay for every second that they are on-line. If you have multiple blogs you can post on all of them from one window without having to open other browser windows and log into other accounts.


Creating a rollover button in Flash MX 7.0 with sound

After several months of trying to figure out how to make a roll over button in Macromedia Flash MX 7.0 I finally got it done. I think the trouble is the help/tutorial files that come bundled with the software. They write it in such a way that just confuses the user, and unless you really focus yourself the help files are really difficult to understand. Perhaps the reason is, there are no pictures to accompany the text files. Obviously for save on space requirements software developers have to go with text files rather than images. I'm sure if they could they would include video tutorials but this would take up far too much space. I am not sure how helpful it will be but I included screen shots and a description here for anyone who may want to know how to create a simple roll over button with sound and make it link to another web page Really it is quite simple, if you don't get my instructions please let me know what you didn't understand and I will try to update the tutorial. Click here to see the tutorial!



Cafe Manabi

Cafe Manabi is going out today. I have decided to let the site go as is on BETA for now and see how I can improve it in the future.

Manabi is a Japanese word meaning to learn; therefore, this is the cafe where we learn languages. I've started this website after having taught foreign languages for years and I have realized that too many textbooks are delivering content that quickly becomes out of date or dull because they lack the cultural aspect of language.

1. Confidence building,
2. Learning Intonation in order to avoid misunderstandings,
3. Making New Friends,
4. Getting ahead!

Mosaic Tiles

I have always had the fascination of making mosaic tiles but not the ones fired in a regular electric or gas kiln. I have done shichirin (charcoal cookstove) firings using a hair dryer set up. The great part about shichirin kilns is that you can do them just about anywhere from parking lot to rooftop to the beach and the amount of smoke emitted is quite minimal compared to most wood fired anagama kilns of North America, Europe and Asia. The biggest drawback of course is the small size of the shichirin does not allow for big pieces. Of course you could make your own shichirin but the problem of course becomes the bigger you make it the more costly it is to fire. It has been my opinion that if your only option is a small kiln then you should get creative and make small stuff!! Small mosaic tiles and figurines are just the few that come to my mind immediately. Due to the relatively low amounts of smoke emitted from shichirin kilns I am quite a bit in favor of them especially in cities and towns where larger anagama kilns are becoming increasing difficult to find ? Japan for instance. The low fuel consumption and low smoke emissions make for a much better alternative for pottery enthusiasts to get involved with. I do not care for too much of the manufactured junk that comes out of European and Chinese pottery. By manufactured pottery I mean mainly the pottery made in mass production and fired in electric or gas kilns. To me this is not pottery and is mere junk for cheap consumption. Since clay comes from the ground, pottery needs to have the more natural feel and look to it not the look of a machine.