All posts by Chris Valdez

Starting with video games, Chris' interests have led him to write game reviews, study Japanese and move to Japan to continue his studies. Of course, he has other interests, like cooking and baking, travel, and occasionally updating his blog.

Learning to read faster

I’ve heard of speed reading and things like that, but I’ve never really given it thought before. I just assumed it’d be tricks like skipping over simple words, like prepositions. But in fact, there’s more to it, as I’ve recently learned.

A few weeks ago I came across a link for Spreeder, a free site sponsored by the makers of 7 Speed Reading. Basically, you copy/paste text into a window. Then site runs some fancy javascript and jQuery scripting magic to adjust the rate at which is shows the words to you.

The premise, and what kind of opened my eyes to speed reading, is that most people, myself included, tend to read only as fast as you can say the words. That is, when you read, you often have a voice in your head. If you can silence the voice, you can read faster. So, the site will parse the text you pasted, and show you one word at a time on the screen, in rapid succession. It starts you off with 300 wpm, but you can adjust it up or down in 25 wpm intervals. Mine is set to show me two words at a time at 950 wpm.

It’s an interesting concept, and I will say that when I use Spreeder I read much faster. 7 Speed Reading claims there are many more methods, and it’s something I may invest in later this year. After I’ve received a few more paychecks.

Back with a passion

I finished Japanese language school on Sept. 20, 2013. I spent time job hunting (after squandering a month doing nothing really), had lots of interviews, met with various recruiters, and took a job in Chiba. I moved on Jan. 7, 2014. 2013年9月20日に日本語学校から卒業しました。1ヶ月あとは就職が始まりました。面接が多くて、リクルーターに会って、千葉県で仕事を見つけました。2014年1月7日に引っ越しました。

I then bought some furniture, a TV, and spent about three weeks getting used to my new home and job. 家具とテレビを買って、周辺に馴染んで仕事になれました。

It’s just about the end of January, which marks about four months of not studying Japanese. Sure, I’ve been reviewing various things, but I haven’t been actively trying to learn anything new. I need to do that now. 1月はほとんど終わりますね。4ヶ月ぐらい新しい日本語のことを勉強していません。やばい!すぐに続かなければなりません!

My goals this year: Pay off my student loan debt, newly acquired (see above) credit card debt, pass JLPT N2, and improve my reading speed (in both English and Japanese). 今年の目的は:奨学金を払い戻すし、クレジットカードを払い戻すし、日本語能力試験2級に合格するし、速く読めるように練習します。

Let’s see how it goes! 頑張りましょう!

Macross VF-25 Valkyrie on display in Yokohama

Fan of anime, robots, planes, sci-fi or anything similar? This could be interesting to you. If not, sorry. I will write briefly about this anyway.

Macross (and Gundam) is a staple of Japanese culture. Even if you’re not a fan of it here, you’ve at least heard of it. Anyway, the VF-25 Valkyrie is an iconic transforming fighter jet.

A front view. Intimidating.

On my way to school, I noticed a poster advertising this on display nearby. After school Monday, I made a stop over to check it out to take a few pics and a video for my friend Amit. He’s a fan of Macross.

The Valkyrie was on display as part of a promotion for WOWOW, a subscription television channel. It is currently showing the original “Super Dimension Fortress Macross” (超時空要塞マクロス) show, as well as the movie “Macross: Do You Remember Love?” ((超時空要塞マクロス 愛・おぼえていますか). I didn’t sign up. I just wanted to check out the fighter.

Of course, I thought it’d be nice to share it with everyone else as well. The only disappointing part of this was that, yes, it’s 1/1 scale, but it’s only about half of the vehicle. The rest simply doesn’t exist. =(

I didn’t ask, but some people were allowed to get a picture standing on its right hand here.


The left hand. Wish I had taken a pic with someone in it for a sense of scale.


Some info about the display and promotion.


Gonna go out on a limb here and guess this is Lynn Minmay. I’m not really familiar with the story.

Baseball in Japan

I’ve never really liked sports. I greatly dislike American football and basketball. I’m not into hockey, soccer or most other major sports. But I can watch and enjoy baseball. I don’t know why. Many people say baseball is one of the most boring.

Unfortunately, the Hawks were sucking this night. July 1, 2013

I’ve been to maybe 6 or so Major League games in the U.S… and now two games of professional baseball in Japan. First thing I noticed: Teams are often associated with their sponsors. Take for example the Hawks. They’re from Fukuoka, but Softbank is the sponsor or owner (too lazy to look it up right now). Anyway, people may say “Fukuoka Hawks,” “Softbank Hawks,” or some combination of the two. Continue reading Baseball in Japan

That reminds me of a puzzle…

Professor, what are going to do?!

Professor Layton was one of my favorite game series for the Nintendo DS. I loved the short, but wonderfully animated and voiced videos sprinkled throughout the series. I enjoyed the setting, music, and really just about everything about it. Oh, and the puzzles. But what I hated was how EVERY GOD DAMN THING LED TO A PUZZLE!

“I think we should eat our way to the clues!” — Something Layton would probably not say

Hey Prof, my dog died last night.
I’m sorry to hear that. Say, that reminds me of a puzzle!

Can you help me put this book back on the shelf?
Of course. By the way, can you figure out this riddle about books?

Regardless, I still enjoy the series. And so do the Japanese. A few months ago in Japan convenience stores around the country were selling small boxes of Professor Layton chocolates. Also, inside each box was a puzzle similar to what a player encounters in the games.

Below are pictures from inside the box as well as a puzzle and the solution. Continue reading That reminds me of a puzzle…


ねぇ、知ってる? – 豆しば’s catchphrase

A few weeks ago I was discussing Japanese “cuteness” with Rachel at a small cafe in Tokyo. While there, the topic of acceptance of cute things in Japanese society came up.

I never thought about it, but it’s something I think I enjoy. And I’m not talking about girls, guys, or things like that. I’m talking about mascots, characters, icons, etc. A perfect example is 豆しば (Mameshiba) seen in the picture above.

Mameshiba is a cute bean (literally a bean) that pops up in the most bizarre times to instill some random knowledge on its listeners. Check the video below for a collection of commercials featuring him.. her… it? Continue reading ねぇ、知ってる?