Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Trip to San Francisco

Hideko and I took the train down to San Francisco, together with Sheryl, another student at the LSA.

We were met by Hideko's friend Andy, a Japanese guy who has been living in San Francisco for a long time. Andy took us to some of his favorite places around the town, across the Golden Gate Bridge, of course, but also to a wonderfully steep street that had been planted in hydrangeas, all in bloom that weekend.

We had lunch at Andy's restaurant, We Be Sushi. The miso soup was great--Andy's mom must have been a really good cook! But at least some of the sushi was a kind that his mother probably never made, like his special grilled eggplant sushi.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Stanford and the surrounding area is filled with flowers! Even the cactuses in the Arizona Cactus Garden are blooming. I don't know what this one on the right is called, but I had to try to get a picture of it.

Small gardens are tucked away into courtyards, and in the more open spaces there are fountains and more flowers.

In the afternoons, there are always people enjoying these spaces, but after dinner, I was able to get some shots with no people in them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

ALMOST a student again!

I'm really enjoying the classes here at the Linguistics Institute. I am attending 4 classes: one on writing systems (of languages past and present), one on language change (historical and present, English and other languages), one on language variation (focusing on English, especially cases where two different words seem possible in a particular kind of sentence, and looking at differences in meaning/style/etc. which might distinguish them), and a class that is hard to describe in a blog that will probably be read by people who don't know much linguistics. (It focuses on ways we can characterize a speaker's knowledge of syntax--in this case English--using statistical models based on frequencies of words and constructions). I may also take one more class if I can find one I like. A lot of interesting classes are scheduled at the same time as those above, but in one of the free periods, I've tried two different classes. One was a bit beyond me, and so I tried joining another class recommended by another person here. That one was really a bit too "Intro" level to be interesting. But four is the normal number, and there are evening lectures and workshops on Wednesdays and weekends, so I don't really need more.

I am almost a student because I don't have to do any homework! There are assignments for anyone who wants to get college credit, but for the rest of us, it's enough if we just do the readings (as much as possible--there are too many to get to them all) and go to class.

I'm also enjoying the beautiful campus here. Today after dinner, I went to the Stanford Shopping Center (I'm not a fan of shopping or malls, but I have to admit it is a beautiful place) to buy a sweater (it's been cold the last few days, and I didn't bring enough warm clothes), and I decided to get a camera. I didn't bring my digital camera from Japan because it was a little too big and heavy, especially the battery charger (which I have to use often because the battery wears down so fast. ) I really like my old Sony CyberShot, now about 7 years old, but when I saw a Sony store in the mall, I decided to get a new one. It is much smaller and lighter, and works like the old one...except that all the menus are in ENGLISH! It really felt weird when I picked up the one in the store and saw English on the screen. I might actually try using more of the features with this one. Starting tomorrow, I am going to take pictures of the campus to post here, so check back.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Before the regular classes start here, there are three days of Presession classes, designed to get people up to speed on particular topics. I signed up for three of them, not quite thinking thatit would mean almost 6 hours in the classroom per day for these five days. Since I have been waking up pretty early (5:30 today) because of the time difference, and staying up fairly late trying to review some of the stuff we did during the day, I am feeling pretty sleepy now!

But the pre-session ends tomorrow. There will be fireworks on July 3 and a barbeque on July 4, so a bit of a chance to relax before the classes start. (Then it will be just 4 hours a day...PLUS the extra lectures, workshops, etc. that I might choose to go to.) I probably won't have a chance to go far off campus until Sunday.

One place I definitely want to go is down to the wetlands. It is DRY here--the creek and lake on campus are actually bone dry. But this morning, walking across the lawn right in front of my dorm, I saw a Great Blue Heron. It was SO COOL... I bet there will be a lot of herons down by the bay.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


I am finally here at Stanford University, for the Linguistic Society of America Summer Institute. I arrived in California on Wednesday, and I stayed for three nights at a hotel in Menlo Park, the town just north of here, to try to recover from jet lag. But today I moved down to the university, to my new home-for-one-month, in the graduate student housing. I got my computer connected, bought the books I'll need for the courses which start tomorrow, and rented a bicycle!

In the past three days, I've done a lot of walking,various places in Menlo Park and from there down to the university and around downtown Palo Alto, maybe 5 or 6 miles each day. That was fun--I enjoyed looking at all the gorgeous flowers everywhere--but being on a bicycle is much better! On one of the days when we don't have classes (maybe July 4th?), I plan to ride down to the wetlands/nature preserve areas down by San Francisco Bay. I don't think I'll ride it to class--the distances between the buildings we'll be using are not really that far--but it will be very good for exercise and just general joy.

I know that things will get very busy soon, but I think that I'll try to keep up with this blog, after telling my friends and family about it. (I thought it was linked to my home page, but I realized just now that it is not. I'll have to try to change that. I'll have a lot to say, but because I foolishly decided not to bring my camera, I won't have many good pictures. I thought the camera would be heavy (especially since I'll be bringing back books) and a hassle at the airport, and that if I really wanted to take a picture, I could use the camera on my cell phone. HA! The picture above is the only decent one out of many, many attempts yesterday, a closeup of a cool cactus in the Arizona cactus garden on campus. But maybe if I keep trying, I'll get better at using that camera.

Well, check back for updates, and maybe for photos.