Today I release a simple Sunday script building on the distant past. How do you sort a list of words in a language you're learning? The easiest order is the order you originally wrote them down in. The second easiest (and probably one of the best orderings) is random. Random ordering removes biases that a human put in and biases the list to another order. If you order your list randomly each time you read from it, you can remove bias.
This is how I ended up trying to learn kanji last year. It didn't go so well. What's wrong with random ordering of a list of words? It provides a test of one's memory. As my memory is not great, the random ordering does not actually solve the problem of memorization. So how does one memorize words? I had quite a bit of success with WaniKani this winter. I learned 85 kanji (that I had already learned on my own) and 184 words based on those kanji in a few months. What does WaniKani do that I didn't do? 1) WaniKani is an SRS. 2) WaniKani has experts to come up with a good set of data about kanji and vocabulary to cement the meaning and readings.Read more »
This is a post that covers 17 writing tests over all the kanji I've learned, 29-30 kanji per day.
The concept behind the big test is to test 30 kanji per day, excluding the one's I've already tested to get an idea of how many kanji I know. Since I learned 496 kanji, 30 kanji per day should result in 17 tests. Because I didn't have the optimization on the first three tests, there are a few repeated kanji in the first tests (五 具 典 所 語 高). It looks like 17 will still be the number of tests. Without the optimization I'd have to do a lot more tests. Since each test takes ~15-30 minutes (drawing kanji is difficult), this optimization is necessary (as more tests are done, the number of repetition per test grows).
I was really upset as I found that the rate of recall is close to 50%. While this is substantially lower rate than when I was learning rows and testing daily, I believe that it is accurate. You can see how many I don't try on -- because any attempt at drawing is a waste of time if I cannot draw the whole kanji.Read more »
Nov 3, 2016
I spent a little time in the past week porting one of my blogs to Python using Django. If the website looks similar to these four blogs, it's because they are all the same codebase with a handful of tweaks to make it possible to unify them with my other blogs and journals. While they aren't all ported yet, I thought I'd write a quick blog to explain things. For a decade and a half, I've been blogging on a PHP website I wrote in 2002 for Javantea's Fate and improved over time. In 2011, I wrote a blog in Python with Django for my trip to Brasil. When I went to Mexico, I copied the blog and created a second database. When I bought j4va.com for fun and profit (not really), I first put up a copy of java.com with some interesting things in its place. Then when I wanted to turn it into a blog, I copied the Brasil blog and made a third database. Now that I finally want to unify my blogs, it makes perfect sense to simply use the same thing, but copy all the data from the all the blogs into a single database. It's so well-written, that I didn't really need a really bad intro page anymore. So now AltSci.com goes to that unified blog interface. There's a lot of logic that makes it happen, but I'll leave that unsaid.
Of all my travels, only one trip is not available on my unified blog. I decided to use MediaWiki for my Europe Blog and spammers destroyed that blog, so I don't have easy access to the data. Eventually I'll grab the data and post it to this blog. For now, the pictures and videos will do. You have to click on the videos to get them.Read more »
Rio is a multi-faceted city. Certainly tourism and the beach are clearly marked with Carnaval being a mix of native culture and a bit of tourism. Lapa on the other hand is a facet that makes Rio a party city like no other. São Paulo doesn't party like Lapa. No American city could possibly party like Lapa. Since I took no photos (because I was trying to enjoy the party instead of documenting it) I will try to describe it. Start with multiple crowds of people in the street. They are blocking off the streets around Lapa's main attraction, Arcos da Lapa, an aqueduct made in the 18th century (1780s). Take floats playing music. Then add twenty or thirty clubs that are packed to capacity and have long lines. Then play Brazilian funk in a party that it so packed that it's instantly claustrophobic. Then add hundreds of beer vendors on the street selling beer for approx $2 USD. This wasn't the bloco, but it was partially caused by it. The bloco was much larger and went down Rua Rio Branco.
Beyond Lapa, there is the party that spans all neighborhoods. This is not a public party and it isn't specific to Rio. It's smaller in São Paulo but exists there as well. Wherever there is a good bar, people around gather and have a party. In typical Brazilian fashion, everyone knows everyone else in their clique and outsiders can only get in by meeting someone. Once they've verified that you are cool and not a gringo, you're in. In my case, they verified that I was a gringo but not just a stupid tourist. How does that happen? I am writing an extensive essay on the strengths and weaknesses of Brazilian social networks from the point of view of a novice Brazilian Portuguese speaker. I haven't gotten conclusive results and examples, but it will be an interesting read.
But more to the point, what did I actually do in Lapa? My friend and I met and talked with some cool people. There were a pair of college students who were really nice and went to Lapa to enjoy themselves. There were the pair of girls who were really interested in my friend and me. One spoke Japanese, so I talked with her for a bit. I forgot all my Japanese on the spot though. Similarly later in the night, a girl asked me to sing and I forgot all the songs I know. Wouldn't it have been cool if I had sang "I'm an alligator, I'm a mama papa coming for you, I'm the space invader, I'll be a rock 'n rolling bitch for you. Keep your mouth shut. You're squawking like a big monkey bird and I'm bustin' out my brains for the words. Take me baby, make me know you really care, make me jump into the air. Keep your electric eye on me babe. Put your raygun to my head. Press your space face close to mine love. Freak out in a moonage daydream oh yeah." -- Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars "Moonage Daydream". Of course I forgot it. Instead I sang a few lines from Frank Sinatra's "You brought a new kind of love to me" and Gilberto Gil's "Oslodum". I taught myself these songs when someone asked me to sing last year and I blanked. Of course I completely failed to sing in tune because I was a bit drunk. But we talked for a bit about rock, what types of things we were interested in. My Brazilian Portuguese may be awful, but I can ask and answer dozens of interesting questions. If you've ever played 20 questions, you know that by the end, you know the person a bit too well. Let's play shall we?Read more »