Tag Archives: behaviour

It’s a Good Feeling

This morning, I took ten minutes to record a quick video. It’ll be up tomorrow. But during this video, I was acting far more naturally and having fun with it. I realised this is how I want my videos to be. I think I found my voice. 

It’s a really good feeling making something I’m very satisfied with. Of course, there are still improvements I want to make, such as better video editor, better camera and microphone, and adding end cards. However, with what I have now, I feel good about it.

I want to bring back that feeling to this blog, too. Next month will be busy, but for a good reason. I’ll be releasing a video and doing a blog post about it next week. You’re going to see a more relaxed and conversational me. Look forward to it!

Is the Online You Really You?

Here’s an interesting question. If you blog, do you write with your personality? Or do you sound different in your blog? Are your blog posts conversational, or are they more like formal articles? Do they show you?

I talked about that on my YouTube channel, as well. Is it really me on video, or is it scripted? Take a look.

In real life, I can be silly. I talk with a funny voice or say silly things. But on my main channel, I tend to be more calm. I’m not spontaneous. My videos are completely planned. But if you look at my vlog channel, I’m more natural. I don’t plan what happens. Things just happen and I document it.

What kind of person are you in real life? Is it any different than how you are online? Let me know in the comments below.

My Daughter Amazes Me

Now more than four and a half years old, it’s hard to believe it’s been so long since she was a non-verbal baby. Now, she talks. She talks non-stop! It doesn’t matter if it’s in Japanese or English, she will continually talk until everyone is hoping she’ll be quiet for a few minutes.

The rate at which she’s acquired English is amazing. She’s become conversational in English, although her grammar is still odd. That’ll sort itself out over the next year, I think. She still lacks vocabulary, but she’ll learn quickly. School starts in September for her, so she’ll have a great opportunity to speak more.

But there’s something I’ve noticed this week. She can negotiate. She’s a bit manipulative. She’s stubborn. And she is very strong-willed. She wanted something to eat, and she asked for three of something (I don’t remember what!). But that was too much. We said just one. She settled on two, and we said okay. And tonight, while going to sleep, she was being so incredibly cute, I would’ve loved to have had the conversation on camera. She wanted to hold our hands, then she wanted my wife and I to hold hands. She said she loves us, and we’re her best friends. She was very happy to have us cuddling with her. She was happy to just be with us.

We’re doing something right. She’s actually quite generous. She’ll ask for some gummies, candy, or something else, and she’ll give everyone a piece. She likes to share. But she can be bull-headed and refuse to do things when we ask. I always have to talk to her about not listening to us, and she always apologises. Have to be stern with her sometimes. But in the end, she’s happy.

She’s my best friend.

Foreigners Behaving Strangely in Japan

In Canada, it’s quite normal for people to nod or say hello to complete strangers on the street. In general, Canadians are a friendly and polite bunch of people. And it’s genuine friendliness.

In Japan, it’s normal for people to stare straight ahead and ignore everyone around them. Whenever there is eye contact, there is a friendliness and politeness. People will help others out, especially if they’re foreigners or elderly. But in general, it’s not genuine friendliness. It’s a way to maintain the harmony of Japanese society.

When foreigners meet each other on the street and they don’t know each other, that’s when things become awkward. A more normal behaviour is usually just brief eye contact and a nod. That’s nothing unusual. However, what happened to me last night was very awkward.

Because of the tendency to avoid eye contact in public, many long time residents of Japan from other countries start conforming to public behaviour norms. But looking at people is a normal thing in Canada, so I often take a quick glance. Well, as I got off the bus, a white woman walked down the sidewalk in the opposite direction as me, so we were bound to face each other. I looked at her out of the corner of my eye, and she did the exact same thing with me. We both realised what we were doing, and maintained an awkward silence as we passed each other. Both of us noticed that there was another white person and tried to discreetly see if we recognised each other. The result was a very strange and kind of creepy eye contact, our faces forward, our eyes looking sideways, locked on to each other.

After that, I realised how ridiculous we must have looked, and my initial feeling was that I wanted to tell her how silly we were. However, I didn’t know if she was an English speaker. She could’ve been Russian or Polish or Romanian, and may not have been able to speak English. So, I just carried on going home.

In the country you live in, how do strangers behave toward each other in public? Let me know in the comments below.

What if…? Unruly Teenagers in a Train Station

Imagine this situation happens (it actually happened tonight in front of me). A group of thirteen or fourteen year old boys are fooling around on the escalator in a train station, and as they get off, they partially block other people as they push each other around. They’re being noisy, silly, and they seem to be having fun. They don’t seem to be maliciously causing others any inconvenience.

Behind them, there’s a middle-aged businessman who is trying to get around them, but he can’t. He shouts at them to stop fooling around and behave themselves in such a busy public location.

In your country, how would the teenagers react to the businessman? Post your answer in the comments below.

As for in Japan, the teenagers would most likely apologise and behave. Something like this has happened to me, when a group of teenagers were pretending to punch each other on the train. One of them actually did punch another, and he bumped into me. They immediately started doing a little head bow in apology when I glared at them. They didn’t mean to bump into me.

The Trouble With a Three-Year-Old and Video Editing

This is my three-year-old daughter.


Cute, isn’t she? Well, she’s three years old, which means that she’s wild, often uncontrollable, and has a huge attitude. Yes, a threenager.  She’s at that age when she thinks she can do what she wants. She doesn’t have the rules down yet, and demands everything. Tonight, we went to the local festival which is near our apartment and watched a bit of entertainment. When we left, she became incredibly angry.

We ate dinner at home, then we went back to the festival to watch more. However, she decided that she wanted to get on stage with everyone. I told her that she can’t, and she became very loud. She started shouting that she wanted to go on stage (at this time, there was an old guy doing a traditional Japanese song). She kept on shouting over and over, so we had to leave, because she was disturbing the entire festival. And she became extremely angry again.

Threenagers, what can you do? Also, she’s in this phase right now where she refuses to sleep until well after midnight. She was doing so great during summer, going to bed at a decent time. But now, she tends to get only about six or seven hours of sleep at night. She gets up extremely irritable, which is understandable. However, she will not go to bed until she’s so sleepy that she can’t stay awake. I don’t know what to do about this.

Second, I’m going to start using a video editor on my computer to edit videos (obviously). I’ve already taken a couple of videos in the past twenty-four hours, and need to do some editing. Watch for them to come soon on my YouTube channel. And please subscribe to my channel! I’m refocusing what I’m doing on my channel, and I’d like the videos to look a bit more professional. The YouTube editor does a decent job, but it doesn’t look great.

With the “relaunch” of my channel, I’ll be doing a lot of videos about Japan. My sister is coming to Japan next month, so I’ll be taking videos anywhere we go, and putting them up on YouTube. I’ll also be doing the Life in Japan posts in video form. And I’ll make videos about our immigration efforts. So, look forward to seeing those soon.

Japanese Customs that Are Shocking! (Or Not)

I recently read an article on Business Insider written by Asta Thrastardottir, someone who lives in Brooklyn. I don’t know her connection with Japan, or if she has any. She wrote this article to show Japanese customs that may shock foreigners.

Well, I wouldn’t say they’re shocking, nor would I even say they’re correct. Let’s take a look at these.  I’ll just provide a little commentary.

Number 4 is avoided at all cost.

The number 4 is pronounced the same as the word for “death” in Japanese. So, the 4th floor or room number 4 is considered unlucky. However, most buildings I’ve been in have a 4th floor. I’ve seen room number 4, as well. It’s not avoided at all cost. I think the 13th floor in North America is avoided more than the 4th floor is in Japan. Anyway, it is pretty true in hospitals. No one wants to stay on the death floor.

Blowing your nose in public is considered rude.

I think this goes for pretty much anywhere. It’s considered rude, and most people sniff. They sniff constantly. That gets annoying, too. But one thing I find is that younger people will blow their noses.

Tipping can be seen as insulting.

I’ve never seen anyone do this, so I don’t know the reaction, though I have heard it’s more likely that the server will run after the person to give the money back, thinking it’s a mistake.

Walking and eating is seen as sloppy.

Nice to see they mention that it’s okay to eat ice cream on the street.  This is generally quite true. Not sure why this is shocking, though. And while it’s frowned on to eat on a train, for long distance trains, they sell food. You can eat. On local trains, I’ve also seen people snack on food.

In Edmonton, it’s actually illegal to eat or drink on the LRT or bus. You can be fined.

There are designated people who will push you into a crowded subway car.

Not anymore. They don’t want to risk someone touching a woman and have her sue. It’s simply not done anymore for that reason. And also, there’s the possibility of injury.

People will sleep on the trains with their head on your shoulder.

I’ve seen this often. It happens. Lots of people sleep on the trains, and when their head lands on someone’s shoulder, they just try to ignore it. I think the best example of this is when I saw a junior high school girl fall asleep and her head was resting on a middle-aged businessman’s shoulder.

There are toilet slippers for the bathrooms.

Yes. They do this in many Japanese restaurants and izakaya, as well as any business where you’re asked to remove your shoes and wear slippers. Even where I work!

You must always bring a host a gift.

It’s extremely common. But I’m not sure how this is shocking, because it’s common to bring a gift, like wine or something, to a party you’re invited to in Canada.

Pouring your own glass is considered rude.

Depends on the situation, but this is something that is often true. Though I think it’s more courtesy when someone pours your glass, I have seen many people pour their own glass.

Slurping your noodles is not only seen as polite – but it also means you have enjoyed your meal.

This is true. It’s normal to slurp your noodles in Japan. I don’t do it, because whenever I’m eating noodles, I’m often at lunch from work, and I haven’t perfected my slurping. If I try, I’ll get the soup on my shirt.

I have to make one extra comment about the temperature of the noodles. They are so hot that they can burn. People also eat them so fast, a big bowl in only 5 minutes, that they’re at risk for throat or esophageal cancer. The hot soup and noodles can damage the esophagus so much if eaten frequently that cancer has been known to develop (told to me by a doctor).

Sleeping in capsule hotels in rooms barely bigger than a coffin is very common.

They are common near train stations, and they are used when people miss the last train. Quite often, women are not allowed. A good alternative is a manga or internet cafe, which have private booths with either a chair and computer or a sofa, computer, and TV. They even have showers and free drinks.

My verdict on this article is that it’s not shocking at all. Some of these things are a little surprising, while others are not at all surprising. And some are no longer true, such as the subway pushers, unless they exist somewhere other than Tokyo. I’ve been on the subway in Tokyo during rush hour where people push themselves into the train. Can’t get on? Well, they wait.

I think what shocks me is when I’ve been in a store for an hour and they’re still welcoming me to the store. Or the incredibly profound and rather embarrassing apology for getting my order at McDonald’s mixed up with another customer’s. The manager came out while we were surrounded by many customers and apologised so strongly with a deep bow. I felt a little self-conscious in that situation. I was already rather conspicuous, being the only foreigner in there.

If you’ve been to Japan, is there anything that has surprised you? Or how about any other countries? Let me know in the comments.

Three-Year-Olds. Sigh.

It’s been one of those evenings. Parents will know what this is like.

I want a drink.

“Tea! Tea!”

Now I’ll swish it around in my mouth until I decide to open my mouth and let some of it dribble down my shirt.

Oh, they said stop. No, I think I’ll do it more.  No stopping.

Okay, okay, I’ll swallow it.

Let’s take another drink. Yay. I think I’ll swish it around again! I know what they said, I’ll do it anyway.

Stop? Nah. Okay, fine, I’ll swallow.

“I’m sorry.”

Oh look, Mommy’s shirt is on the sofa. I’ll pull it down.

Leave it there? No way, I’m pulling it down. I’m not listening to you.

Oh, you put it back. I’ll pull it down again! Haha!

No, I won’t stop. You can’t make me! Pull it down again! Yay!

Oh, they’re angry? Meh. I’ll do it again!

They really area angry.

“I’m sorry.”

I’ll pull it down again! Hahaha.

That was my daughter tonight. She decided that she was going to challenge every single request we made of her, ignore us until she was scolded, then say sorry. Then she did it again and again and again and again, etc. That’s life with a three-year-old.

The Importance of People Watching

Any writer knows that to write fiction, you need to understand human behaviour.  What can be better than people watching?

I’ve always been a people watcher.  This doesn’t come from being a writer, this is a side effect of my introversion.  I watch many aspects, like how they walk, how they talk, body language, posture, how they interact with others, and so on.  It’s one of my strategies for dealing with others when I have to speak with them.  And I speak with many people every day in my job.  I’ve learned to adapt how I speak with others depending on what kind of person they are.  I can usually get along with anyone, even people I don’t like very much.  While others may get into arguments with that person, I seem to be able to diplomatically defuse situations.  Of course, this only works if we speak the same language.  I know when to let the person talk, and I know how to interrupt them.  A lot of this comes from years of experience in both teaching and customer service.

All of this is important for writing, because if we don’t understand how people behave, characters will end up being very unnatural and stereotypical.  When reading a serious novel, stereotypical characters turn me off.  I don’t want cookie cutter characters, I want well-rounded people. So what you need to do is not only watch how people move and behave, but also listen to conversation.  How do they say what they say?  Take notes about figures of speech, natural phrases, and how people respond in conversation.

If you can’t get out and are stuck in front of your computer, try watching some YouTube videos.  It’s best if they aren’t staged, acted, or a monologue in front of a webcam.  Look for those candid videos where someone just happens to be recording what’s happening.  You can get real behaviour and conversation that way.  Do you want to write a fight scene?  Watch a video of an actual fight in public.  For research, not entertainment, of course.  Don’t watch a movie fight scene.  Those are choreographed and not realistic.  You can also find good arguments on YouTube.  Listen to what they say.  Listen to how their language changes.  It’s quite different than their usual calm language.

There are many ways to observe people. What do you like to do?

Are Writers Introverts or Extroverts?

I came across a Freshly Pressed blog post at Exploring Pixie that made me think about something.  What are writers and authors more inclined to be, introverts or extroverts?

In general, writing and creativity is generally an introverted trait, but certainly not exclusive to introverts.  Introverts tend to be quieter, although not always, and are less likely to be outspoken and wordy.  Writing gives introverts a way to express themselves in a more comfortable way, without being watched.

I am an introvert.  I always have been.  As a child, I was very shy.  As an adult, I’ve gone through a call centre job, requiring me to speak to many people, and later as a team leader at the same call centre.  That put me in the position of having to speak with authority, and even brief up to 50 people on a project.  I’d never spoken in front of that many people before that job.  And now, I’m an English teacher in Japan.  I spend my days talking to others.  Over the past 12 years, I have talked so much, that I’m sure people wonder if I really am introverted.  For example, when I played hockey, I was afraid of scoring a goal because I didn’t want any attention.

I’m the complete opposite now.  I write blogs, I am writing a book, I want people to see what I write.  I want that attention.  I want to interact with people.  Does this mean I’m an extrovert now?  Absolutely not!  I am still an introvert.  I prefer to listen than to speak.  I’m an observer, and I learn a lot about human behaviour from watching.  That has helped me a lot in my work as both a call centre team leader and an English teacher.  I can read people quite well and adjust how I speak with them.  I rarely ever have difficulty speaking with someone because I can quickly judge how they’ll respond.  I believe this can also help me with writing fiction.  I understand how people behave, so I can adapt this to my writing.

But I wonder, are writers more inclined to be introverted or extroverted?  I’d like some responses.  So please leave a comment.  If you’re a writer, are you introverted or extroverted?  Even if you aren’t a writer, I’d still like to know.  Thanks!