30 June 2007

Movin' on up

This, my friends, is THE national English teaching conference in Japan. And 25 minutes of it in Room 407 is mine. All mine.
Dear Mr Stephen Pihlaja,

We are thrilled to inform you that your proposal for a Short paper has
been accepted for the JALT2007 Annual Conference to be held November
22-25, 2007 in Tokyo, Japan.
Take that, failure.

29 June 2007

Oh, man

This article about men who are 'Grups' might be pretty important.
“If really hard-pressed, I would admit that I actually own a Clash T-shirt that I got from that last Clash tour,” the musician told me. “But I don’t wear it! And I’m certainly not going to wear it under an Armani black blazer. I even remember meeting this guy who was around my age, who was wearing an expensive blazer, and on the lapel was a London Calling button. Who the fuck wears that? That’s what I wore when I was 18 in art school! And you’re the same age as me? And you’re wearing it again?” He pauses, then adds, “And you know what? Giving your kid a mohawk is fucked up, too.”

Does this count?

Barack Obama is coming out with statistics that over 250,000 have given money to his campaign this year. The campaign email says:
The media and the Washington pundits are so focused on the money chase that they have missed the bigger story. Each donation to this campaign is a declaration of commitment to the idea that we can change our politics and elect a leader who will inspire and unite this country.
I am a little bit more skeptical though. Howard Dean, does anyone remember Howard Dean?

The main thing keeping my spirits down is pollster.com. It looks like Obama has flattened out, more or less. Someone want to explain why in the world Hillary Clinton is preferable to the Obama?

28 June 2007

Hits milestones, uses metaphors to conceptualize everything

Yesterday I turned 25 and it went smoothly. I got a CD from Yoko and a CD from my sister, and I got to go out to dinner with Neal and his newly acquired master's degree toting love interest. Neal, in a rare show of confrontational brevity, got to talking with my parents about politics for just about an hour and a half. It was a fascinating night, all around.

Now, Yoko and I are preparing to ring in one year of marriage. This is big news for us and given how long this year has ended up being, I gotta say, I'm glad we made it this far. The first couple of months we were married, I would always say on Monday, "Well, we've been married for X weeks now. Do you want to try for one more?" Yoko would think about it and finally say yes. I can start using that line with years now.

25 June 2007

'I've found that Mr. Stephen is a sadist'

'I've found that Mr. Stephen is a sadist.' This is what one of my students wrote during the 'I've found that A is B' portion of our class today. 'Really?' I said, 'Do you know what that means?' I looked it up in the dictionary and showed him the results, 'This?' and he just laughed. It was mostly a joke, but still — that'll take the wind out of your sails for a day.

More importantly, I woke up this morning and drew a graph that is the cornerstone of my dissertation conclusion. Soon, it will all be over, and hopefully I'll get to stop saying I'm an MA student and start saying that I'm a PhD student.

Parents kick it

I was holding the baby after she took a bath and she pee'd all over me.

My parents are here to see the baby and they've been having a pretty good time, from what I can tell. Today we went out with my friend Ishikawa who drives a bus and likes to take foreigners on a magical mystery tour of Japan. Often, during the tour, one member of the tour will comment to another in a hushed voice, "I thought we going to the hot springs. What is this I'm eating?" The answer is, "Forgot whatever you thought: you're eating squid."

The baby did really well, we eventually got home, and I got a stunning reference from my Birmingham tutor for the PhD application. I need to keep hopes down.

20 June 2007

The real deal

Thank you for your application for admission to the Open University as a full-time PhD student.  Your application has been considered by members of the Applied Language & Literacy Research Group (CREET) who would like you to have a telephone interview.
This is really good news and could mean really big changes for me and my little family in the next six to nine months. I sort of figured that if I could get to this stage, the hard part of getting in would be over. The hard part, it seems, will be deciding what to do, but I'm happy that we at least have some very good options.

19 June 2007

Taking responsibility

After 7 years of no one being responsible for anything, this is refreshing:
 In a statement on his Web site, Obama said he was not aware of the contents of the memo before it was distributed. The Illinois senator said he was responsible for the mistake and the campaign had taken appropriate action "to prevent errors like this from happening in the future."

17 June 2007


It looks like you made the perilous journey safely. You'll find everything is pretty much the same as before. Please keep this blog bookmarked as www.mysonabsalom.com as I may be switching servers later this summer. Until then, I am being graciously hosted by www.onebecomes1.com to whom I am also eternally grateful for making me a flash header that rains.

Some things are still a bit out of order, including old YouTube clips that I have to go back and manually fix the html for. Some pictures older than a week are a little trippy too. I am still learning CSS, so if you come here one day and something is ginormous or out of order, hit refresh and it should be fixed soon.

It's a bright new world. Let's, you and me, be friends.

15 June 2007

My future as a cognitive linguist

I've been busy, so I haven't been working too hard on anything blog-related. The baby is ginormous. Tall and heavy and just a sweetheart. I don't want to be one of those guys that's like, 'My baby did X 2 months ahead of schedule which means she's brilliant', but she is showing real progress in her slow march to adulthood. I am very proud.

Although I had originally thought that this university I am thinking of applying to wasn't well respected, I was wrong. One of my Birmingham people wrote,
'The OU is a very august institution indeed, and has an excellent reputation in the UK, so no worries there. It's also worth bearing in mind that Lynne Cameron is an internationally recognized leading authority in the field of metaphor research, so that would further enhance the prestige level attached to this PhD.'

One day, if I am ever British, I want to be able to say something like 'a very august institution indeed' and not have people laugh at me. Anyway, this is good news in that if I get in, it'll be killer, and bad news, in that it's less likely that I'll get in.

Japan only has three universities in the top 100 universities in the world (the last one, Tokyo Institute of Technology, just barely making it at 99) . This is sort of pathetic, I think, for a country with such a large population and so much money. FYI:
Harvard University US
Massachusetts Institute of Technology US
Cambridge University UK
Oxford University UK
Stanford University US
University of California, Berkeley US
Yale University US
California Institute of Technology US
Princeton University US
Ecole Polytechnique France
Duke University US
London School of Economics UK
Imperial College London UK
Cornell University US
Beijing University China
Tokyo University Japan
University of California, San Francisco
University of Chicago US
Melbourne University Australia
Columbia University US

Everyone now: USA! USA! USA!

12 June 2007

New Site

The new blog is looking great so far. Totally stoked about it. I bought the domain this morning, but it's still not up and running fully, so I need to be a little patient. Maybe by the end of the week or maybe sooner, but I got what I wanted: digital rain.

horse less review

Go now, or face consequences.

10 June 2007

Naomi, the dance

She's got the rhythm. Just like her father.


Cognitive Linguistics and Conceptual Metaphor Theory?
The fundamental tenet of Conceptual Metaphor Theory is that metaphor operates at the level of thinking. Metaphors link two conceptual domains, the ‘source’ domain and the ‘target’ domain. The source domain consists of a set of literal entities, attributes, processes and relationships, linked semantically and apparently stored together in the mind. These are expressed in language through related words and expressions, which can be seen as organized in groups resembling those sometimes described as ‘lexical sets’ or ‘lexical fields’ by linguists. The ‘target’ domain tends to be abstract, and takes its structure from the source domain, through the metaphorical link, or ‘conceptual metaphor’. Target domains are therefore believed to have relationships between entities, attributes and processes which mirror those found in the source domain. At the level of language, entities, attributes and processes in the target domain are lexicalized using words and expressions from the source domain. These words and expressions are sometimes called ‘linguistic metaphors’ or ‘metaphorical expressions’ to distinguish them from conceptual metaphors.

09 June 2007

Read it, believe it

Thank you for your donation!

Dear Stephen,

Thank you for your generous donation of (some small amount). Your gift will be immediately put to work building a campaign to change our country and our politics for the better. Looking for more ways to get involved? Head over to My.BarackObama.com where our growing set of tools puts the future of this campaign in your hands:

On My.BarackObama.com you can...
... build your own profile and connect with supporters near you
... find or create your own local or national group
... create your own personal fundraising page and track your progress
... find events near you or plan your own
... chronicle your campaign experience on your own blog
There will be much more to come in the weeks and months ahead thanks to your support.

Thank you again for your donation.
Obama for America

To the max

I found my limit running today and it's right about 30km. My body said, 'Enough is enough' and now I can't walk up the stairs.

I'm working on applying for a PhD program in Cognitive Linguistics that is fully paid and includes a living stipend. Forty-five minutes from London. Three years. Now to figure out exactly what Cognitive Linguistics is.

08 June 2007

Oh my god

If anyone ever says to you, "Hey can I take your picture for an advertisement for your English class?" The correct answer is, "I'm sorry, but no." If you say yes, this might result:
What am I saying? I'm saying, "My name is Pihlaja. I teach English at a high school."

07 June 2007

Gone home

My father-in-law went back home today to tend to his rice fields. My in-laws are great. Yesterday, he bought a couple of stunning Cuban cigars and we sat on the floor talking world politics and the future of Asia. My father-in-law was a long time news writer for the national television station NHK before becoming a politician in the prefecture assembly for two terms. He then took a year off to study Mandarin in China and is now an organic rice farmer. If that doesn't make for an interesting variety of conversation topics, I don't know what does.

05 June 2007

Blogging to the future

I'm thinking about moving my blog to a server and doing my own thing with my own URL as I'm tired of using a template that everyone else has and I want to be original. Nate, my good friend and mentor from high school has offered to help me out, but I'm still a little nervous. Will I be confused all the time? Will my blog fall apart? These are serious considerations to take into account with all you readers out there.

Once, Nate and I went to see Catburgler in this like industrial park in North Chicago. This was right around the time when I had the most explosive yen (in the Kerouac sense) for Ruth Gray and right before the time that she slapped me on the butt at a church retreat, but, you'll correct me if I am wrong, Ruth Gray's older brother or one of his friends, some guy named Tommy something, was in Catburgler. They were just about as hot as you could get. You probably have never heard of Catburgler, but I thought it had included former members of Sustain, or XsustainX as we'd write it, given that they were Straight Edge. No one has ever heard of Sustain either, but it doesn't matter — they were awesome. I talked my parents into letting me go because I probably said something about them being a Christian band which they might well have been and my parents trusted Nate to make sure I didn't get hurt.

We drove around this industrial park looking for the show, and we finally found the place, but it wasn't a club or anything. It was just like this warehouse. The first band started playing and I was feeling cool as I did when we went to shows when suddenly the power shut off and there were like 5 cops there telling everyone to go home because there was no license to have a show there. So I never got to see Catburgler.

And I never got to hold Ruth Gray's hand either which is sort of a shame, but I guess I've done well for myself and shouldn't complain. I hope she's doing well too.

02 June 2007

A runner

I can't believe it, but I actually got up at 4:45 today to run. I think I'm becoming one of those guys — you know, the guys that wake up at 4:45 to run. Running is such a great sport because it's so simple and, if you run at the right place, at the right time, it's just you and the road for miles and miles — no one needing you, no one calling, nothing to do but run.

This feeling is great unless, as happened this morning, you are struck with a sudden feeling of human urgency and you're in the middle of a rice field.
We (well, mostly I)'ve been giving kids at the junior. high nicknames. We got Peter Pan and Pinocchio and Napoleon and Prime Minister Abe and Ox. As a teacher, I pride myself in building the self-esteem of students wherever I go.

01 June 2007

Jay-Z worships Satan

Another big win for certainty from the pulpit, there's a clip going around by a pastor claiming that Jay-Z is a Satanist. Ironically, the clip the pastor plays is from the Grey Album, a remix of the Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album by the late, great DJ Danger Mouse. Playing on the fact that people claimed the White Album contained Satanic messages when played backwards, Danger Mouse inserted this Satanic message referencing the claim. Brilliant move made even more brilliant by the pastor who unknowingly plays the role of zealous, misguided fear-monger while zealously fear-mongering. Really, a fine day for irony.