Japanese Language Study Log: sholum

My personal 'dairy' thread (kept reading 'diary' like that when gaiaslastlaugh was asking if we could make something like this).
Figured I'd make my own of these, so I can have somewhere to post the things that aren't quite on topic in the other threads. I hope to make this useful for others, and I'll try to keep it legible. Feel free to comment, ask questions, etc.
Gonna try to update every other week; might not happen every biweekly period; might happen before two weeks has passed; depends on if something big/interesting/irregular happened or not.

Started studying Japanese (or at least attempting to) at least a year before I joined here, so around 2010... Maybe earlier, but I don't remember.

Started with kana. I did these with regular flashcards, for some reason or another; recognition and production. I did hiragana in one week (hiragana | romaji), then katakana the next week (katakana | hiragana); I reviewed with the flashcards for a couple more weeks, I think, then relied on seeing them in the wild (old Pokemon games: all kana; didn't actually read anything, because I had almost no vocabulary) and looking through my cards for any that I'd forgotten.

Did RTK the lazy way (kanji -> keyword) in Anki just so I could learn to 'see' kanji, since I was having tons of trouble just distinguishing characters. This worked quite well, and I finished this exercise in about four months (don't have the actual timescale, because that deck is long dead).
Recently started learning to actually write the kanji.

Didn't really make any progress on vocab until after I'd finished the lazy RTK run. Tried various word lists on various learning sites (and not in Anki, for some reason) and using flashcards (didn't last long). I eventually found iKnow (when it wasn't called iKnow and was free) and was digging that for a while, but then it went payed again, and I'm a super cheapskate, so I finally moved to Anki and started on Core 2k again with it. Did the regular steps for a while, then got tired of all the extra cards, sounds I didn't use, and images that weren't very helpful, so I switched to one of the compiled versions of Core 2k and 6k and removed those fields.

About half way through, I started adding a lot of new cards per day (60, 100, and even more a couple of times); I managed to keep up with it all the way until I added the last few cards of 6k, and burnt out shortly after (probably something to do with school or life).

Some months later, I tried reining it back in, but realized I'd forgotten a whole bunch of them and decided to start over from scratch with the Core 10k deck. Started 30months ago, finished adding cards from Core6k 23months ago, finished adding from Core 10k 16months ago.

Reading, listening, writing, speaking, misc:
Started reading easy stuff (NHK EASY, JOI teacher's blogs, a tiny bit of easy manga with furigana, etc) about 2k into my first run through of Core. Eventually moved on to mostly manga with a bit of VNs, then added more games, then regular news articles, then webnovels and not-newspaper articles, recently got to where I'm okay with LNs.
Only recently been able to write or speak anything, really; very slow and halting; often wrong, even if I should know how to form the thing I screwed up.
Started watching YouTube videos a few months ago, and Japanese subbed (occasionally unsubbed) anime a couple of months ago. Before that, it was mostly music (I found some Japanese bands I liked around the time I started learning kana; haven't added many since... too picky), some occasional learner stuff (always too boring to continue), and English subbed anime (which is mostly useless).

Started learning from a tutor in mid to late 2015 (JLPT practice). She's been helping with my listening and production skills, and has helped me find good resources for the JLPT. For a shy person like myself (you wouldn't think it, would you?) in an area with almost no Japanese speakers, she's been a major help; I lucked out on finding such a good tutor in real life, on the first try even.

- Adding vocab from things I read using Rikaisama
- Watching the most anime I have in a while (usually subbed), less YouTube though (the rest of the site makes me procrastinate, so I have to limit access)
- Conversation and writing practice with my tutor (was delayed by test prep until a couple weeks ago)
- About to start a short paper on a topic relevant to my field of study (electrical/computer engineering)

Current Tadoku graph:
[Image: TadokuPlot201610_zps7t0ya0wm.png]
Some of the numbers from the older rounds surprised me! Did past me fudge some numbers, or was I actually reading a lot more (easy stuff) back then? I curse past me if I did fudge numbers, because that would mean my old data is no good...

Future (plans/goals):
- Continue things listed in Present
- Retake the N1 for a third time (I failed again)
- Write more things related to my field of study (I think I said at least two in the resolutions thread)
- Get better at speaking...
- Start looking through some professors' research at Nagoya University and getting in contact with some of those professors with the goal of finding one who can help me get over there for my Masters (maybe PhD, depending) through MEXT as soon as next year (maybe the year after, depending on how the application timeline plays with my course completion date). Obviously requires me to get better at communicating in Japanese first... This entire plan gets shoved to the side if I don't get the MEXT though (from what I've heard, the final selection is a crapshoot, depending on the number of applicants, so...); can't afford it without that (almost) free money.

Will update the Tadoku graph every round. Might throw some of the short papers I write up here after they've been corrected. There will definitely be the miscellaneous "Hey guys, I've done this recently!" stuff.
Edited: 2017-01-24, 3:29 am
Welcome! Great to see more "dairy" threads.

What anime have you been watching Japanese-subbed, and where did you find your subs? I'd like to do more of that. I am following the Netflix thread with great interest, but always keeping an eye open for more resources.
What I've watched recently:
-I finished watching Hyouka last week or so. Normal highschool setting, various mysteries (well formulated in that the solution is possible to solve on your own as the evidence is presented; doesn't mean they're difficult, but it's at least a proper mystery), nothing supernatural.

-Working on Blue Exorcist right now (got about six episodes left). Doesn't live up to the hype, but it's still a pretty fun series, will have to check out the manga later. This series has made up for all the missing anime dads by killing off a whole bunch of them.

-Finished Hunter X Hunter (2011) a couple weeks ago, but mostly without subs (will be explained in a bit). I loved Yu Yu Hakusho, and I loved Hunter X Hunter; it's definitely on the slow side starting up, but once it starts, it just keeps you absorbed. Lots of unanswered stuff at the end, but I don't know if that's the anime or the series in general; the ending didn't demand that everything be answered though, so...

-Watched all of Tokyo Ghoul about a month ago; the pacing is better in the anime, but it's still... meh. It was fun, and there are parts with feels, but the censoring of a lot of the violence and most of the blood destroyed most of the action (and torture) scenes, and considering this series doesn't have the best story...

Got a few more series ready to watch: Mushishi (never got more than a couple episodes in, despite how nice it is), Psycho Pass (may or may not finish it; it gets hype, but so does Death Note, and I never finished the manga or anime of that), along with a few others.

How I got subs:
For Hyouka, Hunter X Hunter, and both seasons (series?) of Tokyo Ghoul, I used
For everything else, I find subs on and go through the mild pain of delaying or advancing the subs to match the video (a lot of the subs are apparently ripped from TV broadcasts, and so have spaces for commercials). Didn't want to bother with Hunter X Hunter, because after watching the first thirty episodes on Animelon, it was pretty easy to follow unsubbed.
No current anime from those, but that's fine with me, since I prefer to watch a few episodes at a time.
Edited: 2017-01-26, 11:34 am
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Weekly (maybe) update:
Articles: 2/3 (days where I read articles out of required 3)
Kanji cards added: 12
Vocab cards added: 42

Most of the cards I added were actually from stuff I read at the beginning of the month, and I just got around to extracting them from my RikaiSaves files (I have one for my desktop and one for my 'formerly a cell-phone, now just used for reading' phone); I can't go without the export feature anymore!
However, a number of those (a bit more than ten, I think) came from the two articles I read. So that's definitely going to be a wealth of vocabulary from now on.

So on the very week I declare my intent to read three articles per week, I fail to read three articles... Well, what I did read was very helpful in showing me why I suck so hard at the reading section of the JLPT, so that's good. Since I'm still having to look up so many words (and a lot of names), I can't really time myself properly, but it's clear as day that it takes me longer to read a page's worth of text in an article than a webnovel, VN, or something else.
I'm going to try timing myself starting next week, once with an article, once with a webnovel. I know it's not going to be very comparable on a week to week basis using just one sample for each (of varying lengths, at that), but maybe over a couple of months I can start to see some trends.

Once Tadoku ends (so, in two days), I'll start recording my pages here weekly. I'll be using the same definitions as the contest, for consistency.

Nothing beyond the usual anime and YouTube yet. I was going to start on 新完全マスター this weekend, but didn't, so there's that. Watched Highschool DxD (instead of doing something more useful), which is a bit of plot sandwiched between lots and lots of "plot". How much "plot"? So much so that the original TV airing was nearly unwatchable, due to all the magic light beams (and not the ones from the normal plot), and the show opens and transitions with generous helpings of "plot". I must admit that I enjoyed the series (for the normal plot as well as the laughable physics in the larger "plot" points) enough that I'm currently acquiring the next season; don't know if I'll make it all the way through the third season, though.
Didn't have Japanese subs for this and ended up watching with the English subs turned on; only managed to ignore them about a quarter of the time.

Haven't done the paper on power generation yet, but I did write a kind of diary entry at the beginning of the week about some things that had happened the previous week. Got a decent amount of corrections from my tutor, but thankfully only had to completely rephrase one sentence. It took hours to write, though, even though it was only a few hundred characters long (maybe 320). Since I'm actually learning to write kanji now, I wrote it by hand, but I don't think that affected the composition time that much.
I can already tell that this is going to make huge improvements in my Japanese.

Conversation practice with my tutor, because I have no other Japanese friends... and only a few other friends, overall. I still suck at speaking, but that's the whole reason I'm practicing. Between short stretches of decent speaking, I'd have trouble forming sentences quickly enough in my brain and become lost for words, or with my mouth and end up with some really choppy accents on my words, especially at the end of each word. To hopefully remedy the latter (and maybe help with the former), I'm going to read out loud some. I still have it stuck in my head from when I was just starting to read English that reading aloud when you're by yourself is a poor reflection of your ability to read, to put it nicely (I was a pretty proud brat, I must say; I think I've dropped the brat part now, at least), but even if it doesn't help me to form sentences better on my own, it should help with the formation of actual speech.
I might record myself. If I do that and put it online for some reason, I'll link to it so that everyone can get a good laugh.
Weekly Update:
Articles: 1/3
Pages read: 26.5 (doesn't include pages from Tadoku)

Reading speed:
Article: 168 char/min
Webnovel: 185 char/min

Kanji cards added: 62
Vocab cards added: 6

Very little reading this week, so very little vocab added. I've considered more than once whether I should start adding from the Core Supplement deck, but I think I'll stick to adding just from my reading for now; premade decks are great for starting out, but I feel like I'm retaining the words I add from reading better. Maybe that's just because I have better example sentences for them...

Again, very little reading. I have my first test in the (supposedly) hardest class of my undergrad next week, so I've been spending a lot more time studying. Of course, I spent a lot of time watching anime, so...

As for reading speed, both of the numbers above were done with decent precision (a character count less spaces in LibreOffice and at least minute precision on the time; the article time was to the second, because I was at my computer). The article I read was one about robot arms with a light touch. Compared to previous articles I've read, this one was quite easy; it didn't have many words I didn't know (only added one word from this article), didn't have a lot of names in it, and wasn't using fancy language. That being the case, I don't think it's a very representative time, but it was an interesting read.

Anyway, compared to times I took back in October (though they weren't as precise with regards to time), which were 101 and 106 char/min, this is a huge improvement! If that can happen in three or four months, I can't wait to see what it looks like after this year!

Watched 10 episodes from the second season of Highschool DxD, no subs (they exist, but they're for the TV version, and apparently the BD version has scenes that were just too much for magic lights to cover up); interest is starting to wane, but it's still funny in the way that these kinds of series are. Might actually make it through all three seasons.
Important observation: Issei (and the other guys?) are all aliens or mutants, and are lacking nipples... In a series where it seems like half the budget went to animating breasts.

Also started watching Ranma 1/2, because I apparently decided I needed some late 80s / early 90s in my life. I'm thirteen episodes into the first season of the second attempt at an anime, so far. Very fun, very dated, very much hard subbed Sad (at least what I have is)
On the bright side, I'm getting tons of practice ignoring subs this way. I'm also getting practice with listening to crappy audio, because somewhere along the line between TV and a DVD release that someone hard subbed, the audio quality faded quite a bit. It's not inaudible, but it has that distinct smoothing of aged audio tapes.

Nothing. I'll be finishing a clean copy of the diary thing I wrote last week or so, but again, studying (and anime) take up too much time for my slow ass writing to have a chance of happening. I have decided a topic I want to touch on though (because I always thought it was cool): the reason we use high voltage A/C power transmission. It's fun to explain, because you can show it by solving really simple circuits problems.
Does brainstorming count as progress?

Read aloud some. I don't know if it'll help, but I'm going to keep doing it.
(2017-02-05, 10:01 pm)sholum Wrote: Also started watching Ranma 1/2, because I apparently decided I needed some late 80s / early 90s in my life. I'm thirteen episodes into the first season of the second attempt at an anime, so far. Very fun, very dated, very much hard subbed Sad

Lol, Ranma 1/2. To some extent, that series can be credited for launching me into this Japanese adventure. I absolutely fell in love with the series (and Akane) at the first anime convention I attended back in the 90's. The first season theme song is one  of the first songs if not -the- first song that I could sing by heart (in any language!) I can't sing it by heart anymore but at least I can actually understand it now when I do hear it.

One day I hope to go back and read the Manga. I was super discouraged because as much as I love all Rumiko Takahashi's work, the puns are very hard on a person who's learning Japanese. (パンだ・パンダ being a rare exception of an easy pun.)
I wonder if even now (having passed N1 a couple years back and easily understanding ight novels, romance/school-life dramas or slice-of -life anime) might I yet be able to understand Takahashi-sensei's work... in the sense of actually getting the jokes without having to work too hard for it. (A little thought is okay, but after multiple dictionary lookups the joke is no longer funny even once you figure it out, kind of like having the joke explained to you only you have to research the explanation...)

The series unfortunately weakens after the first few dozen episodes and keeps getting weaker, excepting a few moments of brilliance. Unfortunately she was more or less a victim of her own success and forced to keep writing the series long after she was out of inspiration.
So do you learn from the anime or just watch it?? In my opinion at your level it's more effective to just watch whatever with English subs or Japanese subs or no subs then relisten to the ep many times (you can even regenerate efficient audio with sub2srs) and go through lines of certain scenes and add those words or phrases to anki
Edited: 2017-02-06, 9:36 am
That theme is definitely catchy, though I'm personally digging that outro more. Heck, just those first few notes are fun to hear (so much funk packed within a couple of seconds)
But yeah, popularity has caused the slow death of a lot of series (and authors) over the years. Some of the magic smoke starts to escape when you realize that mangaka (especially of popular, weekly series) spend most of their time working under constant stress and lack of sleep.

I'm just watching them, really, though it's helping with my listening. The reason I don't want English subs is because I'll tune out most of the audio, which makes it harder to claim that it has any study value. I have to admit that I miss some information when I don't have any subs at all, but I've come to prefer no-subs over English subs. I guess I'm extensively listening rather than intensively listening?
(2017-02-06, 1:37 pm)sholum Wrote: @howtwosavealif3
I'm just watching them, really, though it's helping with my listening. The reason I don't want English subs is because I'll tune out most of the audio, which makes it harder to claim that it has any study value. I have to admit that I miss some information when I don't have any subs at all, but I've come to prefer no-subs over English subs. I guess I'm extensively listening rather than intensively listening?

I feel the same way. I like to balance extensive and intensive listening. I view listening to podcasts as extensive listening, and watching J-drama with J-subs as intensive listening (I usually copy the dramas I'm watching to my phone and try and re-listen to them several times after I watch them initially).
Quick update:

Did a lot of conversation practice with my tutor today; over an hour of conversing in Japanese. Though the conversation topics were started by the textbook topics (what are your hobbies, what would you buy if you had more money, etc.), they didn't stay there; ended up talking about the DNR hatchery that I ride to when I'm cycling (government and fish; two things I'm not good at talking about) and the hunting culture of Japan and where I live (we both agreed that killing for sport is unpleasant, but it's fine if you eat it).

While I was still losing words and making weird phrases (I expect to be doing this for quite a while yet), she remarked that I was speaking much more clearly and fluidly than I was just two weeks ago. I also noticed that I was pausing less and had less of that choppy accent on my words that I mentioned before.
So apparently the reading aloud thing is working. I don't know how much more benefit will come of it (since it's probably just helping with the physical production of speech, and not the composition), but I'm going to keep it up for a while if it's made that much of a difference in just two weeks.

So yeah, I'm recommending reading aloud to anyone that's having trouble speaking. If you don't already do it, it might help more than you think.
Weekly Update:
Articles: 2/3 (kind of)
Pages Read: 80.835

Reading Speed:
Article: 130 char/min
Webnovel: 169
Other: 138

Kanji cards added: 12
Vocab cards added: 12

Again, not very much added; most of it was from a website I was reading about the manufacture of firearms (I found it when searching for one of the terms on a wrench that was posted in the Relics thread). About half of those were materials and manufacturing words (casting, brass, lathe, etc), the other half were gun parts (barrel, stock, etc). Four came from the chapter of 無職転生 I read.
I wonder if this slow rate is good enough... I don't want to add a whole bunch of vocab I haven't seen 'in the wild', but...

Not much, unfortunately. Had a difficult test last week. Have more tests coming up (they shouldn't be anywhere near as bad, though).

My times dropped a little; for the article, I think it mostly came down to too many things I didn't know (the article was on 夏目漱石; too many names...), but I think it's closer to the average than the previous time. I was reading the webnovel while riding in someone's car to a party, so I can forgive a drop of 16 points with all that bouncing and distraction.

Finished the second season of Highschool DxD (still laughed some, but it's starting to get dull, don't know if I'll watch the third season) and watched the currently released episodes of the second season of Blue Exorcist with no subs. Tried a couple of other current anime, but nothing's really standing out. I will be binge watching Chaos;Child when it finishes, though (I love me some semicolons, and Chaos;Head was the first of those that I watched).
Watched some R-15 too, because apparently I like these perverted comedies more than I care to admit... Whatever, it's pretty funny sometimes; not the best I've seen, but I say that about everything, it seems.

This has really become the "What anime I watched" section...

Jack all.

Nothing after the mid-week update thing. I read my articles aloud, but that's it.
Since this is the second week in a row I've posted this late, I'm making this note to myself (and others) that these numbers are still up until Sunday.

Weekly Update:
Articles: 0/3 (why do I even have a three article goal if I never meet it?)
Pages read: 16

Reading speed:
no measurement this week

Kanji cards added: 19
Vocab cards added: 0

Hardly anything targeted, just a bit here and there; some subs (that I haven't been counting); pretty much nothing of note.

Watched a crap ton of anime this week (probably why I didn't have time to do much else in Japanese):
All thirteen episodes of 'Flip Flappers': story continuity is... almost non-existent at the beginning, and it really doesn't seem like I should like it so much, but damned if I didn't watch the whole thing in just two chunks. And in both of those chunks, I sat through the ending for every episode, and I almost never watch endings or openings more than once; the scrolling images in the top half of the screen are really nice, and the loops in the bottom are adorable! The song that goes with it is fairly chill too, instead of the usual caffeinated pop sound.
No subs.

Two episodes of 'Blue Exorcist': I realized that there isn't much point in waiting for my preferred group to sub it, since I'm not watching the subs, so two episodes this week (I don't have a video setup good enough to care about the differences in encoding that much). They're really good at getting me, even with cliched feels.
No subs.

Five episodes of '俺、ツインテールになります': Getting kind of bored already. It's certainly funny at times, but it's mostly the usual stuff, just played with the gimmick of the story. Will stick it out for a few more episodes.
Japanese subs on Animelon.

Six episodes of 'Durarara!!': Really nice character driven story, though I'm told that it's a far better experience to read it for that very reason.
Japanese subs on Animelon.

The first episode of '幼女戦記': Not really my thing; I've never been a big fan of that kind of character (I don't care for 'Death Note' either, which apparently makes me a heretic. I just think that God complexes and 'pure evil' types get boring really quick, especially when taken seriously). Also not terribly interested in the setting.
Might try a couple more episodes to see if it hooks me, but I don't think it'll appeal to me.
No subs.

That's about 9.5 hours in one week... And most of it on the weekend... And I have plans for what to watch next ('Flying Witch' and 'Gabriel Dropout', because I've read both; the former gives much fuzzy warmth, the latter gives plenty of laughs, and I could use some of both).

And because this is my dairy thread, I'm going to say that I wish Hinamatsuri would get a really good anime adaptation, even though it has nothing to do with my studies. By the way, read Hinamatsuri (, it's a super good series; I can't even give it justice by describing it, but to try and give an idea I'll use an example, so spoilers, I guess (but not a lot). Starting fairly early on, one of the supporting characters, Hitomi, gets into a running gag where she gets forced to work as a bartender (and other things) and becomes really, really good at it; she hates having the work forced on her, but the continuing pressure (and success) actually affects her character! And yes, the whole process is incredibly entertaining.
Go read it!

Ignore the fact that I'm missing two sections because I did absolutely nothing relevant to them!
Edited: 2017-02-21, 5:24 am
I was originally just going to be late again, but since it was over half-way through the next week, I decided to wait and wrap both weeks together, then I got horribly sick last weekend and barely got out of bed... And now I've caught a cold.

(Tri-)Weekly Update:
Articles: zip, zero, zilch, nadda, or however you like to say it / 3*3
Pages: 290

Speed: no measurements

Kanji cards added: 65 (I think, I used the cards added in the past month minus the 19 from the previous post)
Vocab cards added: 0 (there are some in the pipe, I just haven't made them yet);

First off, I'm changing my goal for articles. I'm setting it to one per week; while it'd be better if I read more, I'm lowering it to the minimum in order to make it easier to do. Currently, with the goal set to three, I feel like it'll be a pain to meet that goal without boring myself completely reading about topics I don't enjoy (politics, famous people, trends, movies, etc). By setting it to one article per week, I should be able to easily find something interesting to read, and even if I get all the way to Sunday without reading anything, it won't be so much to do that I don't do anything.

Most of the reading these past three weeks was done last Sunday while I was sick with a stomach virus, with a couple of chapters on other days last week.

Been watching Flying Witch like I said I would; been trying not to binge all the feel good at once, so I haven't finished it yet (I think I'm on episode seven, or there about). It's such a nice series~
It's that special kind of series that makes you smile without realizing it.

Both seasons of Noragami. I stopped reading the manga after the arc that makes up the first half of the second season of the anime, don't feel any desire to read it again. As for the anime, both seasons start fairly strong and then fall off after the first major arc. In the first season's case, it's because they filled the remaining four (?) episodes with filler (I think? I don't remember that plot line at all, so if it wasn't filler, it was just bad); I'm sure we all know how bad anime filler tends to be.
For the second season, the second story arc just wasn't very well done, IMO (I didn't actually read that part, so I have no idea how it goes in the manga; the only reason I think it is in the manga is because of the structure of the story); it seemed like they wanted me to feel something, but were failing to induce it the whole time: this scene looks like it wants me to be sad, but I don't care; this fight seems like it should be suspenseful, but I don't care; this backstory is begging for sympathy, but I just don't care.
The previous arc, while no masterpiece, was entertaining and got me invested, but the last one just didn't.

And something that's not anime! ... Except it's basically anime without picture! I listened to the last episode of 'LAST desire' that I had on my phone again (episode six, I think) after realizing it's been almost a year since I listened to it. So now I've got a few more of those to listen to. I remember thinking it was pretty easy to grasp before, so I don't know how much study value it has now, but I do want to see were the story goes.

And the weekly anime of course.

Nothing yet, but I've been given a writing assignment by my tutor.

My tutor does most of my lessons in Japanese (except when an English explanation is more effective), and a decent chunk is spent on conversation practice (at least thirty minutes). She embarrassed the fool out of me by making me listen to my own voice (I'm really glad it's not as bad as when I was a teenager), but made the point that it's easier to figure out what I miss consistently if I record myself, since I'm not worrying about what to say next and can ensure that I'm saying enough to be properly understood.

In my case though, the first problem to tackle is the constant pausing (I'd make the excuse that I was still mentally and physically weak that day from last weekend's sickness, but that won't help me improve my speaking). I'm doing better than before, but not better than that apparent day of clarity I had a month and a half ago; granted, I haven't kept up with reading aloud either.

In any case, I'm supposed to record myself talking about a few simple subjects, so I might as well record myself reading aloud too. As promised before (I think), I'll share some of it once I actually do it. This cold would make the perfect excuse for some of my bad speaking skills, so maybe I should do it before my throat finishes clearing up.

I've decided to severely cut back my plans for adding kanji cards. The twelve per day that I said I'd do isn't happening, and the main reason is because kanji reviews take too long (even though I just write them with my finger), so I don't want to have too many on any one day. I'd like it to stay at less than fifty reviews per day.
I should be able to finish the remaining ~1500 cards by the end of October, but I might end up putting it off to study for the JLPT again. I think learning to write the kanji has helped my recognition speed and accuracy, so I want to do as much as I can before the test (I'm going to have to rethink my plans if I can't pass the N1 this year...)
Speaking of tests, I can take the J-CAT again, so I'll do that as soon as I have the time.
Edited: 2017-03-12, 2:42 am
Quick update (full two-week update will be on Sunday... maybe) and a request.

Haven't started recording myself yet, but I have everything set up. The thing is, I can't think of anything to talk about. A friend of mine suggested coming up with some questions to answer as if I was talking to someone else, and I think that's a good idea. Problem though: if I could come up with questions, I could come up with topics.
If y'all could ask me some questions/topics, it'd be a big help.

Gonna take the J-CAT tomorrow or Sunday; I got my password on Monday, so I hope it doesn't expire before I can take it. Didn't see anything on the site or the email about how long they last.

Came up with an idea for vocab acquisition (that's fairly obvious and more than one person has definitely suggested somewhere before, but I'm going to pretend I did it all on my own): I'm going to look into topics I like (astronomy, manufacturing, physics, history, medicine, etc.) and learn words that are common in them; not super specialized things, but things that someone who watches a lot of documentaries would know (because that pretty much describes my knowledge of most of these fields). After I get some of the broader words done, I'll go into more specific stuff (types of (sea, air, land)craft, anatomy, words that the specialists that explain some of the detail of the topic use that throw you off when you've otherwise understood everything).

I expect that most of these will be pretty easy cards in Anki, because I've been keeping documentary-type programming (jst science channel, NHK specials, other documentaries uploaded to YouTube) playing on the TV; I let it automatically play another video, so I'm only half paying attention, but the same programs play a few times, depending on how often I have to reset the stream when YouTube goes off into who-knows-where with its recommended videos...
Point being, I'll probably hear these words a lot.
Cool idea! If you feel like it, I would love to see a list of more specific weblinks to the content you've been playing in the background. I know I could google it myself and/or I might not be interested in the documentaries that interest you, but seeing what you're watching will help give me ideas for what I could be googling.

I'm also very curious to hear whether you are confirmed in your hypothesis that the words you are learning in anki will be easier because of background exposure. I am never sure how helpful half-conscious exposure is, and it's possible I should be doing a lot more of it.

Also, good luck on the JCAT. I meant to take it over spring break and didn't because I was so immersed in other work... maybe soon.
Rather than background exposure, it's more like paying attention every now and then. Some times I actually watch a program from beginning to end, but I also have it playing when I'm on the computer, so every now and then I'll listen to a minute or so.

As for links, it's been stuff like this:

And lots more, especially from JST Science Channel:
They cover a wide variety of science news, and produce the occasional series of shorts (usually 10-15min per video) on a topic in a very understandable way. Perfect for learners, IMO, because it's broken up into manageable chunks, and the narration is very understandable (though not necessarily the people they interview). My only complaint is that they didn't get someone to narrate THE MAKING, so I can't just run those constantly... Hundreds of episodes, and there's only text for the explanations (some episodes have furigana and some don't, so this is also an excellent series for people studying Japanese, just in a different way).

I'm also digging 'NHK Special' and 'Cosmic Front' (also from NHK) for well produced documentaries, but these are much longer (usually around an hour).

I don't know if this is a common problem with Japanese programming, but a decent amount of the videos I've seen have (to my mind) poorly balanced audio: the music track overpowers the narration (or more commonly the interviewees), and I have to crank it up to hear it with speakers. It's not so much a problem with headphones, but I'm not wearing headphones for this. The closest thing I can compare it to is the way they've been balancing the audio in a lot of movies recently: can't hear the actors and the music is too loud.
It's a minor gripe though.

I've seen some suggestions for history content on other threads, but haven't been playing it yet; seems like the automatic play would diverge from the documentaries more quickly with those subjects. If I can figure out how to get Vizio's YouTube app to shuffle a playlist, I might have to do it that way instead of relying on YouTube's suggestion algorithms.

As for reinforcing words; it's already happened with a few. All the space shows have driven 銀河 back into my head (I studied it in Core, so it's not something I just learned); strangely forgot that but not 天の川... Also got some compounds with 円盤 (降着円盤、銀河円盤), both 暗黒物質 and 暗黒エネルギー, and a whole bunch of katakana words (プレート、プルーム、ブラックホール、メタンハイドレート、等々).
I didn't actually look these up prior, just picked them up from watching (I looked up 銀河 and 円盤 to check them); of course, they're built off of words I already know or were major subjects of the things I was watching (when three people in a row are talking about 宇宙の膨張 in the same documentary and you're already very familiar with the concept, it's not hard to pick it up).

It'll be interesting to see if it works better when I look up words beforehand; I think it will, because I should be able to parse the audio more quickly, but who knows?

Might be putting the J-CAT off until tomorrow; didn't sleep too well last night. Will spend some time doing some practice problems from ドリル&ドリル and reading instead.
Edited: 2017-03-26, 5:31 pm
Thanks, sholum - this is really cool stuff! I admit to being a lot more into science and documentaries than a lot of the variety programming my wife likes (I like to watch shows about Japanese history, she likes to watch people get kicked in the nuts - viva la difference), so this is right up my alley.
Glad someone else likes it!
We finally cut the cable about a month ago (the ever increasing problem of X number of channels and nothing to watch... that's not on the locals, anyway), so with no more Science Channel I had to find a new way to get my space fix! Figured I'd find more stuff to watch in Japanese while I was at it. Saving something like $80 per month and yet my TV is on more often.
Edited: 2017-03-26, 8:45 pm
(No longer a) Weekly Update:
Kanji cards added: 46
Vocab cards added: 24 (I think)

Spring Break is over Sad
Only four weeks left of class though, so... then I'll get a week off and go right back for Summer classes!

Created cards for all of the fifth grade kanji, so I'll have cards for the next two weeks or so. Been doing ten new cards per day for the last couple of days and haven't felt overwhelmed yet, so I'll keep this up (according to a script made by someone on this site, I shouldn't get above 100 reviews per day at this amount). Maybe I can finally graduate elementary school around the start of May! I pushed my goal of adding all of the 常用漢字 to October; I get tired of kanji reviews really quickly, since they take so much longer than vocabulary.

Only ended up with 263.3 of my 500 page goal for the half-round of Tadoku, could have done better. The absence of the article goal should say enough about itself, but really, having the goal isn't making me read any more articles than I would otherwise (apparently none), so I'll give up for now.

Weekly stuff, and the aforementioned almost constant documentaries. I need to come up with a better system for that, because I'm rewatching things a bit too much and I don't want to watch certain content (history or games related stuff, mostly) because the YouTube suggested algorithm fails too much if you don't give it very specific content (even with space documentaries, I still ended up with a couple of alien conspiracy videos... Not much different from the actual TV channels recently, but there's a reason I got mad at Discovery Networks and A&E Networks for that crap). If I can keep it cool enough, I might hook my Raspberry Pi up to act as a media manager, since I still haven't found a way to shuffle playlists on the TV's app.

Since the anime season has pretty much ended, I'll be going back to watch some things that I missed.

On the last J-CAT I took, I noticed that I suck at making use of time data (dates, months, days, weeks, hours, minutes, all of it); I can read them easily, of course, but hearing them and holding that information in my head is a lot more difficult (of course, the stupid test questions never ask for times like I'd ask for them... Just ask "are you open at these times on this day?" or "is this service available at this time?" would you!); anyone know of a good way to practice that?

A few YouTube comments.

Recorded my drunk ass rambling in Japanese for close to two hours; part of that was dedicated to reading (part of) a Wikipedia article aloud. Biggest glaring issue is still my inability to compose sentences in a reasonable amount of time; too much pausing in weird places, too many repeats to fix a particle.
Second biggest problem is that I switch between informal and 丁寧語 a lot; when I started recording, I had decided to use one of them, and that crumbled away within ten minutes; eventually I got tired of fixing it and mostly stopped.
Third biggest problem: I was drunk. Not the best practice conditions; how many of the pronunciation errors (mostly random devoiced sounds, slight slurring) were from being drunk? No idea until I record while sober.
Don't drink from small glasses.

There was surprisingly little of the typical American accent I was expecting; it was still there, of course, but it wasn't as pronounced as I'd expected, considering my relative lack of speaking practice. I guess listening a lot and subvocalizing while reading helps? Or maybe it's my terrible singing, which I do almost every day in the car (approximately equal portions of Japanese and English songs).

I'll be doing more next week. It might even be presentable, instead of me going on about my taste in alcohol (I don't like light beers, remember for my birthday please!), why I hate the taste of city water and bottled water, and why I drink more tea than water. I'll probably have to script something to keep it under a half-hour; granted, it's not like I'm playing the YouTube game or anything, so I might just ramble or read aloud for a while. The lazier option is more likely to be done, I guess.
Weekly Update (up til Sunday):
Kanji cards added: 60
Vocab cards added: 0

The semester is coming to a close, so I've got a ton of stuff to study for!

Not much. Hope to time myself again soon.

Documentaries, YouTube, and anime. I still haven't figured out an ideal system for playing YouTube videos on the TV, but I also haven't been giving it much thought. I have a Roku stuffed in the closet somewhere (a friend gave it to me after they got a newer model for their rental), so either that or the Raspberry Pi might end up being my solution, though I wish I could do it on the TV...

I need to listen to more history related content; I just blank whenever someone starts talking about history, especially Japanese history.

Nothing. I really should do more, since I can write better than I can speak. Writing more will probably help some of my speaking troubles too.

Did some keigo practice with my tutor; I sucked. It wasn't as bad as the last time we touched on keigo, but that's clearly going to be a sticking point in the future. For now, we're going to go back to regular conversation practice. I'm still struggling to compose sentences; not as much as before, but still far more than I'd like (I can get across most of what I want to say, it's just halting and riddled with errors)... There's really only one way to get better, but talking to strangers is hard...

She pointed out that I don't open my mouth enough for the vowel sounds (I never noticed; sometimes it takes someone else), which makes it harder to understand. That's a concrete thing I can practice (as opposed to composition...), so I think I can knock that out pretty easily.
Of course, I have a tendency to lower my voice a lot when I'm indoors, so I'll have to keep that in mind next time as well.
Been a while (end of term is always busy). The real update will be on Sunday like always. This is just a quick update to say that I just finished marathoning ChaoS;Child and @%$%@#%&@$%$R!#$%#$ I freaking enjoyed it!
It's not something everyone will like (frankly, rather than unfolding, the plot feels like it's constantly being retconned, but that kind of adds to the atmosphere of insanity, IMO), but being someone who watched ChaoS;Head while it was airing and loving it, I've been excited ever since I heard it was coming out! I specifically waited until it was complete to watch so that I didn't go crazy between episodes.

Anyway, a short review, I guess.
Do you need to have seen ChaoS;Head to understand what's going on? I'd suggest doing so. If you watched it, but don't quite remember what happened, there's a twenty minute recap at the beginning of the first episode of ChaoS;Child (making the first episode about 45 minutes long), though it certainly leaves out a lot of stuff. Certain other things are explained again, though, so if you really don't want to watch ChaoS;Head, you don't have to.

Spoilers will probably follow:

Insanity. Not the most insane plot for a psychological story, but the entire premise of the weirdness is that perception creates reality, and a power exists that can force people to share a delusion, thus altering reality (wrap that in tons of jargon and stretch it out and you'll get the actual in-story explanation). ChaoS;Child takes place several years after the events of ChaoS;Head, and bizarre murders are starting to take place once again. The MC, part of the newspaper club, is enthralled by these murders and the ones from years prior, and gets wrapped up in increasingly dangerous situations while investigating them.
[Note: a lot of people say that the plots of both of these series are too complicated and difficult to understand. I don't think this is the case, it's just one of those series where you have to just accept some of what's thrown at you until you reach the end, at which point it makes sense internally, mostly...]

Par. It's not ugly (and there's no more fish eyes like in ChaoS;Head), but the animation is nothing special: standard 'characters are usually still, and you just swap between a few poses' style; not the worst use of it, but hardly the best. Settings work for their intended effect, though; a morgue at night in a creepy hospital is suitably dark and foreboding; delusions are filtered through red haze, occasionally done with a spotted style; calm moments are light and cheery, etc.

Works. Supports scenes properly to up the insane atmosphere or calm things down. I didn't notice anything standout, though.
The opening and ending themes are... well, I didn't listen all the way through. What I did hear was okay, though (yes, I'm too lazy to go listen to three minutes of audio right now), I'm not a big fan of most anime music, so my opinion won't be the best to listen to on this.

Holy crap. Remember the retcon comment? Well, most of that happens in the last few episodes. I loved it, but there were one or two times I thought to myself "Well, won't this conveniently stretch out the ending?" or "What the heck is this development!?"; those thoughts were blown away by the final explanation though, so I only mention them because normal people don't marathon anime and might lose interest between viewings if they're made to think that.
If you're really into your murder mysteries or your psychological (horror?) stories, this will hardly be a fresh way to end things, but I think it worked really well. I kinda expected the lack of an epilogue, but it's still a bit frustrating; I like to see a bit more of the aftermath.

Potential Spoilers Ended

I got really excited with this one, to the point of sweating! (Or maybe that was my poor computer trying to cool off from playing videos for over four and a half hours). But seriously, I just finished it and rushed to type this up!

Especially if you enjoyed the other semicolon series, I definitely suggest you check it out!

Also, this counts for a Japanese study log, because I watched it no subs! Haha, tangentially on topic!
Since I haven't been doing this weekly in a while, I decided to change how I report cards in Anki; I'll be using the total number of cards in rotation (so learning, young, and mature cards) in my kanji deck and vocab deck (RikaiSaves; doesn't include Core cards) to more easily and reliably track the number of cards I've added. My kanji deck doesn't have cards for maybe a hundred kanji that I already knew before making it, and I learned some in pairs (not intentionally, I generally make a card for each kanji, but some of them end up being jukugo with two kanji I haven't learned yet, so I just learn both of them while focusing on one), so it may seem to not line up with where I actually say I am. With that said:

Kanji Production: 663 cards; just started on 6th grade kanji.
RikaiSaves: 432 cards

Would have been a lot further along with the kanji, but I skipped adding cards five days this week (actually skipped my reviews one day as well). I've found that ten cards per day is a nice, easy pace that will allow me to add all the jouyou kanji by the end of the year.

Not much, went from studying for exams to binge watching anime. Read a bit of manga and general stuff that shows up on my computer and phone (forgot to mention that the Verizon version of the S7 now has Japanese available as a system language after they pushed the new version of Android).

Still been watching my YouTube documentaries and documentaries (the recent episodes of 美味しさの扉 from JSTsciencechannel have been really interesting). Also, as mentioned, I've been watching a crap ton of anime the last couple of days (unsubbed):

ChaoS;Child; all episodes. I already freaked out over it in the previous post.

ダンまち (no, I'm not typing the whole title here...). All episodes + OVA. Fun, nothing terribly new or interesting, fairly cliched plot, much DEUS EX MACHINA. If you like this kind of anime, you'll like it, if you don't, you won't (applies to most series, really).

恋愛暴君; eps 1-4 (caught up). The first episode was a blast, so I kept watching, but it's not really keeping the pace; the end of episode four left off on an evil cliffhanger, so how it's continued in episode five could make a huge impact in my overall opinion of the show. The premise sounds stupid, and it is, but if it keeps the comedy going well, that kind of thing won't matter.

エロマンガ先生 (a.k.a. Oreimo S3: my little sister isn't blood related to me this time!); eps 1-3 (caught up); if you've seen or read his previous series, you know exactly what this is. I find it entertaining, some people don't. Certainly nothing great, but not bad IMO (and apparently enough people think so that there's three seasons collectively of two titles that are nearly identical in premise).

[I won't claim to always have an adult's sense of humor, and I only regret the percentage of moe style anime, not their existence.]

Anyway, planning on watching Sankarea with Japanese subs next week. I remember reading the manga a few years ago and enjoying it, so I want to see how the anime turned out. I've been on a huge anime kick recently... I'll probably be watching a few other things I missed or haven't finished as well.

Also thinking of watching Clockwork Planet to see how it is. I'm pretty disappointed by the selection this season, but I guess that's normal (and a huge reason why I stopped watching anime a couple years ago; didn't feel like going through it all to find decent shows).

A couple of comments on YouTube (which were apparently understandable, considering I got responses).
I've been planning on doing some writing exercises where I have an absurd or randomized premise and write a short story around it. I really don't have an excuse not to next week, since I'll be on break. I can write procedural things okay, so I want to get some more creative writing in there.

Not much. I'll be meeting with my tutor on Tuesday, so I'll be doing some then, but I really need to get myself to practice on my own, since one of the big blocks I need to get past is my inability to form sentences at a conversational rate (also why I need to do more writing practice).
Kanji Production: 814
RikaiSaves: 432

Finished adding from the 教育漢字; I might go back and add some of the ones that I studied before starting the deck, depending on whether I think I'll forget them or not. I don't know when I'll have time to make the rest of the cards (was sick over the weekend and got almost nothing done); hopefully I won't miss too many days.

Not much. A few manga chapters, video comments, some subs, nothing particularly challenging (need to fix that, since it's already halfway through May).

The two series I mentioned above that are airing; a little behind on the currently airing stuff, because I slept most of the weekend or stared blankly at something in a cold-medicine induced daze. Plus a few other things:

Sankarea; all episodes; subs; it was nice, but unless I'm remembering incorrectly, it ends early.

ゲート: 自衛隊彼の地にて、斯く戦えり; all episodes; subs; I almost forgot I watched it when I started writing this, but I also watched it all the way through; that level of enjoyment, I guess. Seems like they expected a second season, given the way it ended... maybe the ending was just meant to push LN sales.

Clockwork Planet; 4 eps; no subs; Don't know why I'm still watching this. It's terrible. I might actually be watching it because it's terrible. Also a great series to play "find the gears that shouldn't be able to turn or are completely useless"; there's quite a bit of the latter, haven't spotted any of the former yet, but that might be because there's so many damned gears...

ゼロから始める魔法の書; 3 eps; no subs; pretty entertaining so far, might be one of the more interesting shows this season, depending on how it goes from here.

Oh, and the usual YouTube videos and documentaries.
For some standout ones:
there was a super trippy one about the progression of physics that had a sentient frog that wore glasses, a 'specter of the unknown' played by a dude in a hood that was green screened (or something) to only have floating eyes and a mouth, and a mannequin dressed like Einstein; didn't see the whole thing, but it was pretty good (was an NHK Special, but I don't remember the title; seemed to be one of a series).

And a nice one about the work of Bohr (and some of Einstein and others, focused on Bohr though) narrated by a cute Schrödinger's cat (and they went for the literary references by starting it off with 我輩は猫である。名前はまだ無い。); that one was 猫と月とサイコロ (on JSTScienceChannel), it was a nice watch.

Apparently I was getting a bunch of older documentaries though, because some of the hair in those videos screamed late 90s early 00s; oh, and the computers too, but mostly the hair.

Nothing really. I guarantee that a lot of my continued problems are because this section says the same thing all the time.

Nothing. I'll be meeting with my tutor tomorrow, so that'll change then. I'll do a quick update if there's anything amazing, but I'll probably wait until the next irregular update.
Edited: 2017-05-15, 11:40 pm
Kanji Production: 814
RikaiSaves: 432

That's right: I added nothing this week. I was pretty swamped at school since I missed a weekend of productivity from that cold and the resulting sinusitis, so I didn't get around to adding any kanji cards. I guess it's not that big of a deal though, since I can let the reviews die down a bit this way (maxed at about 70 reviews per day, which is a little more than I care to do for kanji). Only have 1100 left to go, so it won't take me but four months to finish them up. Just in time for JLPT cramming... Kanji study (just writing) has been helping my reading a lot more than I expected though, so hopefully this third time will be the last time.

Still pretty low on the reading end, but Tadoku will be starting soon, so that'll change then. I seem to be pretty well motivated by competition. I'll probably add at least a hundred vocab cards next month from Tadoku too.

Keeping up with the shows from before. I seem to have almost completely replaced my reading habit with a watching habit. While this is good for my listening comprehension, my experience as a child compared to other kids tells me my language skills will suffer if I don't read more... Of course, I watched a lot of documentaries and cooking shows as a kid, so...

Nothing except my kanji reviews (which are single words, and therefore don't count). I might actually write some tonight, because that previously mentioned competitive spirit was lit the other day at a get-together my tutor hosted for her students and a couple of friends. And speaking of:

Said get-together was a precursor to monthly group lessons she plans to do. While we didn't do much in Japanese at this one (just self-introductions and a bit of 'what do you like?' and 'who's in your family?' stuff) and most of the students are fresh beginners (still learning kana), it was a lot of fun and seems like it'll help get me to speak more as we go; one of her Japanese friends came to help as well, so it's not like we'll only be speaking with other learners.
I don't really mind being a more advanced student and helping others. Gotta stroke my ego somehow! ... But really, I kinda like helping other people learn. Got a bit of Anki evangelism in while I was there, too ("Good afternoon! Would you like to hear about the good news of Damien, our reviewing savior?").

I did feel a bit embarrassed being a near mute when it came to Japanese, but since everyone else was at about the same or a lower level of speaking, it wasn't so bad; another perk of this.
Gonna try practicing by recording again too, so I can show off next month :p

Of course, to make the most of this, I probably shouldn't spend most of my time playing with the dogs next time... but they were really sweet...
Kanji Production: 814 (at the moment)
RikaiSaves: 432

Second week of not adding anything, but I'm about to start making some kanji cards, so I should get ten of them added before I go to bed.

Started looking at what the EE research labs at Meidai are doing so I can decide which ones would be interesting to work with and start asking the professors what's up. The electronics related labs are really focusing on making things smaller (makes sense), and the research on shrinking magnetic sensors and improving biometric sensors seem the most interesting to me at the moment; as nerdy as it sounds, I've always thought advanced prosthetics would bring about cyborgs (and I want to make that a reality), though that's not the application they have in mind on the overview, just normal healthcare stuff :p
The plasma stuff looks cool too, but that's far out of my field; more chemistry than EE, and I know very little about chemistry.

Finally started working on 新完全マスター読解; I've been doing one or two (usually two) subsections per day; 対比 and 言い換え from part 1, for example.
Currently on 第1部 2.)問いを解く技術を身に付ける 4.)理由を問う (henceforth referred to in the format 1.2.4); I should be going through it and 1.2.5 tonight.
Somewhat surprisingly, the bigger picture questions (1.1) were a lot easier for me than the questions about specifics (1.2); I figured it'd be the opposite. I'll have to go over this section again, and find another way to improve this (maybe this is where intensive reading makes a big difference?).
I noticed quite a few words that I should have known but didn't, so I'll be going back through all of the passages and recording which words I don't know.

Also, as I mentioned in the Tadoku thread, I found a publication that reports on things interesting to an electrical engineering student (mostly power); I think I'll be reading that quite a bit.

Didn't watch any anime this week. I did watch some YouTube and documentaries though; I watched 地球の中心”コア”への旅 from JSTsciencechannel all the way through for probably the fourth time now. I really like that one, gives a nice overview of everything, while going just in depth enough to keep you interested (for instance, explaining that geologists use earthquakes to measure the density of the Earth beyond the crust); it also points out the fact that the mantle isn't a free flowing liquid like a lot of people imagine from seeing lava flows. The idea that the inner core is probably covered in tree-like structures due to impurities was new to me, and I've seen a lot of TV documentaries.

I also caught a bit of an NHK special that was part of a series on disasters that was talking about the evolution of jet turbines and what causes the blades to fail (apparently, most of failures happen at takeoff, because the stresses and heats are at their peak); they explained how there are air passages built into the blades, and that these are usually the points of failure (cracks form around the air vents for instance), but that they're absolutely necessary to keep the exhaust from heating the blades enough that they'd fail anyway.

Working on a short paper about my recent experience locking myself out of my car and having to bypass the lock to get in, working that into the lesson that locks only keep an honest man from temptation (and so you should take further precautions to prevent making your property an easy target for those who aren't so honest). Should be finishing that tomorrow.

After that, I want to write about the changes in solar power; how photovoltaics have recently become economically viable and have even surpassed the efficiency of concentrated solar power. Don't think I'll go super in depth with it. I'm not super interested in the power industry as a whole, but I do like learning about the generating side of things, especially the push to make solar a viable power source for most of the world. I really like that improvements in photovoltaics could eventually cause a huge shift away from centralized power generation into a more distributed system, and I want to see how that changes the industry. I might be half-dead before that happens, but dammit, I wanna know!

Oh, and a crap ton of LINE messages (compared to normal, at least) to my tutor. LINE has been a Japanese-only communication platform pretty much since I started using it a couple of years ago to communicate with my tutor, I just never thought to mention it.
Someone mentioned it elsewhere, but trying to write a conversational message quickly is much different than deliberately writing an 'essay'. I still suck at both.

Nothing. Meeting my tutor this week, but I haven't gotten around to recording myself again, yet. I had the idea of recording myself speaking about the topics I write about (even if it's mostly just reading it aloud after I get corrections), but we'll see if that works or not.