Tuesday, June 29, 2004


well weve ROCKETED into Japanese yet again today, weve hit mid-chapter 4 of Nakama already.

Some of you have been wanting email, well then use edroach@edamamebeans.com , I`m gonna try to check it twice a day at least.

I cant upload any more pictures till some nice person with a windows xp laptop (Ryan-sama!) lets me use their comp for about 2 hrs to resize all the pics that are currently there and reupload them.

My fiance, Natsumi-san is still cute as a button, and I have a LOT of studying to do tonight, tho not with her. My other conversation partner rules too, we`ll be partying this weekend together. Anyway, short post, try to go on with your boring lives.

Oh, I keep forgetting to mention, this is the third post I`m doing while wearing a yukata, of which I look quite pimp in, and is my official `lounging around the dorms` outfit` (esp now that I`m doing laundry and only wearing boxers under it ^^)

anyway, jya

Monday, June 28, 2004

Skewl is hard... kinda

Hey all, not too much to say, besides sorry to my mom for pissing her off ^^;;;;

Hey- it WAS funny. Dont worry, I dont think she likes me much beyond saying yes to a joke.

Today we rocketed into Japanese, first with some basic room vocabulary (desk, chair, closet, etc) then positional words (this is on top/in front/behind/inside/etc that) then katakana.

ya ya i should know it all and for the most part do, but I`m baka and have forgotten some and make stupid mistakes on other things (I missed two questions on last fridays test for forgetting the " to turn ta into da and ka into ga)

My biggest problem is I always want to say complicated things that are beyond my skill level. Sure, I can say ______ wa ______ desu (blank is blank) and such but I cant say "well I think she will probably ______" or "if ______ then maybe _____" etc. So I`ve started to make my own Jisho (dictionary) of words and phrazes I want to learn, the perticular notebook is split into 4 parts, The first two are dedicated to the Jisho proper, with 2 pages per english alphabetical letter, then the third part is for sentance structures (I WILL learn how to say if _____ etc) and the 4th for Kanji. Hopefully itll help me learn to write it down, its strange not doing it electronically ^^;;

On other notes, Frank, I renamed the directory to "redundantjapan" or some such, please back it up asap as I need to delete it to post any more pics. you can find the dir under http://www.edamamebeans.com/pictures

I also see some of you are commenting on my pictures in the gallery, COOL! I didnt even know you could do that and remember wishing people could. It is expensive to call, but I plan on calling a few of you, just timing is verry difficult. Basically 8am is 4pm yesterday in ca, and about 2am is 6am yesteday.

Andrea, youre funny.

Jeanine, so are you.

Cara, congrats, I know having your marriage recognized by the church is important to you.

Adam, youre just a drunk ^^

John, where the hell are you.

And yes I know things are getting boring lately, but as I calculate it its about ep 17 of David Muyo! so its time for some fan service, Stay tuned- the Onsen episode is coming up!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2004

the news

ok, I promised news, so here it is.
im engaged

*pauses to pick mother off floor*

yup, I proposed to Natsumi Ninomi on Thursday, (btw thats what the Japanese in the last post meant, it was a proposal) and she said yes. However, I didnt have a ring. (yubiwa) She was going to have me draw one on, but I told her I would go buy some Cracker Jacks. (a joke I was amazed she got)
later that day we went shopping at a famous market in Kyoto, a place thats cheek to cheek around new years. Then off to Teramachi, a place we love because of the 100 yen stores. So of course, being the big spender I am, I bought her a 100 yen (less than a US dollar) ring.
The next day meeting her at lunch, I formally proposed in somewhat broken Japanese on video, and yet again she said yes.

*calls ambulance for mother*

Last nite was the okonomiyaki party (too lazy to link, check the last post) and she was there. Pretty much everyone got drunk and went out to the bars till 5am, but I didnt want to and neither did my fiance, so we went to a kareoke bar about a block away from where the dorm is. (completely sober mind you) She has a very nice voice, got her to sing Ayaya`s Momoiro (song was a bit fast, it winded her) and she sang Utada`s First Love, and Sukiyaki (famous old Japanese song were SUPPOSED to be learning) for my part, I BUTCHERED (cant twist my voice like I used to without pain) guns and roses - sweet child o mine and sympathy for the devil and did alright on green day - basket case.
Natsumi also tried to get me to sing an Aiko song with her, but my ~1st grade Japanese reading speed was just NOT fast enough, never mind the fact that not all the kanji had furigana above it (tiny hiragana so us gaijins know how to pronounce it)

2 hrs for $44 not bad, it was fun. Then she went home and I went to bed.

today was quitet, first a karate lesson whos highlight was me chalenging Winston, a fellow student, just to get him to go up there and do a kata (demonstration) since he was too wussy to get up there alone. I told him I was only going to block but he was pretty quick and constanly on top of me making it hard to block, my arms slightly sore from blocking a kick.
after that, me Johnathan and howard went to lunch with the sensei and her friend (we randomly met her on the way there) then I went home and went to bed.

and now I`m here, uploading pictures....

oh ya.. as uncle would say "one more thing"

the engagement is a joke, mom you can breathe now.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Renshuu > hon no benkyou

been interesting, I plan on posting pictures from this week probably today after class. Wed nite I hung out with some of the girls of the floor and Jason, a year-long transfer student from two floors above me. It was quite entertaining as we all were doing better in Japanse after a few beers than before.
Then it was a whopping 3 hours sleep and off to class again, where I am once again bored to tears. No, we havent started Katakana yet. Thing is I`m not qualified for the intermediate class, for instance on the homework the other day I for got to put "desu" on the end of several sentances, which is just stupid, but it was more an issue of me rushing because I feel I know it than not knowing it. Thankfully the teacher is allowing me to move forward a bit faster than the others, being more critical of my handwriting (argh!) and grammar, and being supportive when I mess around with the little kanji I know.

Definately the highlight of the day is the conversation partners. Its great for both them to practice English and me to practice Japanese, with their kanji translator and my palm doing at least some of the work for each of us, and both of us wishing we had the others toy ^^

For yesterday and today, I`t was Natsumi-san again, when I compliment her english she says "tsank yuu" and I melt. I may have interesting news on that front tomorrow, entertaining at the least.

Today, its off to class in the pourning rain (hmm... I need a jacket...) with our first test last period. I didnt study at all, no need to, I`m thinking of other parts of the day, like getting to class in the rain, lunch with the conversation partner, and an okanomiyaki party in the dorms tonight.

On a side note yet not a small thing, I have a host family for the weekend of July 4th. It was a hard decision wether to take it or not because I`m enjoying my freedom and its two hours away so I will miss some of the best tours of the trip, but its an experience I will never again be offered.

mom, frank- check the comments to the last post, I replied.
Ill be calling you guys sometime tomorrow probably and we can discuss the feasibility of a care package.

thats it for now

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Continuing learning hiragana *snore* and now numbers *yawn* today
At least I think that I finally have the kanji for 10,000 solidified in my head, even tho were not even doing kanji yet (i was doing it to keep myself interested)

Tomorrow Katakana, which I will also be bored in. The conversation partners KICK ASS tho, it really makes me feel like I`m learning and also actually communicating worthwile ideas. I want to take one home with me for practice. ^^ Met my second one today, Marie Takahashi san. She was as nice as the other one. Still, ~30 mins at lunch isnt quite enough, I want more time to practice. I really need to learn vocabulary, theres always a word or 17 that I dont know how to say when I want to say something useful.

Johnathan san, my official translator, had a home tutor for about two years and is VERY good. He said it was about $120 a MONTH, I`m SO going to do that in the event I cant take a conversation partner home. ^^

Learned how to say a useful phrase today, kekkon shitte kudasai. I`d write it in hiragana but im pretty sure blogspot cant handle it.

aw screw it
けっこん しって ください。
I‘m about 90% sure that didnt work but oh well, Ive been needing to test.
Whats it mean? anoo....... wakarimasen ^^.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Finally learning Japanese

Well, finally had a day of class. First day was cancled because of the typhoon which kinda sucked but now we finally got to start.
Teachers seem nice and my conversation partner Natsumi Ninomi is very nice, I get to meet my other one tomorrow. Talking to her was the first time I really felt like I could communicate useful ideas in Japanese. I want to steal my roomate howards one too because she was helping me BUTCHER shodoo.(Japanese caligraphy) I was so bad she was holding my hand and drawing the strokes with it. I didnt really mind.

Yesterday was mostly spent in the tatami room watching anime, laying around and generally having a nice relaxing time. Mom and Dad, I expect my room to be carpeted in tatami by the time I get home.

Havent taken many pics, I frankly didnt expect to, probably be posting weekly and then tons on the weekends because thats when there are tours and more freedom to go out. As we only did hiragana today, and I believe its katakana tomorrow I dont feel much obligation to study. Im really bummed I missed a day of study, I want to eek out every ounce of learning I can.

Tonight will probably be quite as well, just going to hang out. Sorry not much to report but having exciting times is expensive :P

Link of the day

(because I know you missed em)
The Japan Times english Japanese newspaper, read all about the typhoon, and youll know more about it than me, I slept thru the intense part (Bummer I wanted to take pics!)

side note- V, are u alive, or did you already forget about me? you havent blogged either.
drop me a line

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Mr Davids Wild Ride

Wow, quite a day. Actually 2 days, but one if you go by sleep.

Went out the night of day4- took some pictures but I`m in some of them and I HATE pictures of me so some may have to be censored to protect the ugly (me)

Anyway, time was rather irrelevant but we left the bar around 5-6am then went to go eat, then back home around 7:30. I meant to down for 5 minutes before I took a shower, but it became an hour nap. Then up and out to go on a tour of some of the temples of Kyoto then shopping (anime fans will love some of the picks) then we ate and FINALLY got home at about 10pm. Coma ensued.

Wow, a hell of a lot happened and its a two paragaph blog, thats sad. However, I will be captioning the pics so basically I have two blogs now.

Anyway - HAPPY FATHERS DAY DAD!!!!!!! without you this would not be possible and I love you for it. Im glad I was finally able to call you. (YAY!)

Oscar, dont worry, I swear I`m coming home and I miss you, youre one big reason why I`m only kidding when I say I`m never coming home. Everybody else too.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Slow day

Today we had orientation and presentations on the diferent weekend activities that are available- I want to do them all.
Then we had a wecoming party where we met our conversation partners. Mine was the only one that couldnt make it T-T. Oh well, still got to talk with lots of people and have fun. Hangin out with Johnathin (who is the one speaking in the video and my official translator since he knows a TON of Japanese and kanji) most of the day, I sat next to him in orientation in Febuary. Finding the atm was a nice adventure, but theres one close by on the campus. next to it is a "family market" (but I already have a family....) where idol dvds can be bought >.> and a mac donalds. It all closes at 5pm tho and we got there at about 4:57. I was lucky to get money. A big group of us are planing on going out to the bar tonite.

Tomorrow theres an organized tour to several of the temples (Kyoto is famous for having so many ancient temples, one big reason is it wasnt much of a target in WW2) so expect LOTS of pics as I love that stuff. Uploading pics now, tho theres not much.

Frank, thanks for everytihng, if you can continue to do that I would really apreciate it, however im not going to delete pics off my device till I absolutely HAVE to.

Mina, your away message the other day perplexed me.

Everyone else, stay safe and happy

Friday, June 18, 2004

hi from Kyoto!

Wow, I dont even know where to begin.....
I guess Ill start with the bad news.

Mom, Dad, Im sorry, I lied to you. Im not coming home. This international dorm is BEAUTIFUL and as nice as any hotel ive ever been to, full kitchen, washer/dryer, bath/shower, living room, comon room with tv, EVERYTHING.
So, just keep paying tuition for me ok?

On to better news...
Woke up today at my now-usual 4am and bummed around for a bit before showering and checking out. Before taking the bullet train to Kyoto, I decided I could survive no longer without power for my devices (hey, even my camera wont last long at the rate I take pictures)so I went to Akihabra`s "Electric City." Take frys, radio shack, and every electronic vendor at the swap meet, multiply times 100 and spread it out over about 8 city blocks with some buildings being 8 stories high. I didnt shop much, I had a mission, and it was acomplished. Got both a universal plug thingy that has those round plugs for my camera and cd player, and the Palm travel kit so I can charge my palm.
Gamers is there, so was a GIANT SEGA store, but I had all my stuff with me and had to come here to Kyoto so Ill check it out again sometime. Then it was off to the bullet train. Got to Kyoto and took the subway and then a taxi to my new permanent home. (^_^)

But, no pix for you. As the day isnt over yet, I`m not uploading those from today (maybe tonight) However, I AM uploading yesterdays pics. Theres a TON of great pics there. Im probably about to spend the next hour making coments for the pictures (well when they finish uploading anyway)

****** NOTES ********
1. special mission for you: go to here and burn the Japan folder to CD for me. I have a stack of cds in my room on the box near the tv as you come in. PLEASE make sure the cd works, as I will eventually be deleting the originals. As I will soon fill up my 800mb limit at this rate, I will be shrinking the originals that are on the website to 800x600 which is less than half quality but still good enough to see. Please add a coment at the bottom of this blog when you have done that.
2. Have you or anyone in the family used my computer? if not, I may have a hacker (god damned idiot kid, eazy to be destructive when I`m not there to kick your ass isnt it?)
I may have to give more special instructions about that via email at another time.

ok, end of longest post ever, believe me, I left out a lot.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Exhausted and its worth it

Sick of me posting constantly yet?
Well too bad.

Today I went to Shibuya (sp?) and walked around for about 6 hours.
Needless to say I`m a bit tired and very stinky. However they wont let me take a shower for another hour. So here I am- TRYING to get this comp to read my card reader so I can upload the TONS of pictures I took.

Shinbuya is known for its shopping, and if youre female, youll probably hope to spend eterinity there when you die (maybe you SHOULD come out here mom (and andrea) (and mina ^_~)however if youre male its really under impressive. What IS impressive is a ~7 story Tower Records that has absoulutely EVERYTHING you can imagine. It was quite humorous that almost the entire bottom floor is American music, while you have to go to the second flor for Japanese music.

But before I went there, I had probably the highlight of my stay in Tokyo- Meiji Temple.
Its a shrine to the emperor and in an absolutely lush enviroment. You have to walk thru the forest for awhile to get to the temple but its not that bad and very pretty. after the temple, I saw a sign saying for 500 yen you could tour the gardens. At first I passed it up but I went back and I`m SO glad I did. It was gorgeous- just wait till you see the picks mom.

Speaking of mom, I`m sure youre even more frustrated than me about me not calling- but BELIEVE ME I`ve tried, it just doesnt work. I will get it settled when I go to Kyoto tomorrow, until then know that theres a "comments" link at the bottom of each and every blog AND theres a way to comment on my homepage in the bar on the right, just keep in mind the world can see it and try not to embarass me. ^_^;

Where was I? Hmm... anyway, I`m not sure whats on deck for tonight. I really want to go out, the problem is I have to be back by 10:30 or I`m locked out till 6:30.
Which I wouldnt mind so much, except then I have to be out of here before 10am (hostile closed from 10-3 which SUCKS) and I`m traveling to Kyoto tomorrow.
Only other thing I have to say is Tokyo is EXPENSIVE. But I havent gone that much over budget, so its ok.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Japan day2

its 7am, tomorrow- from where most of you are anyway. Im officially psychic.

I`m also officially an insomniac, woke up at 4am wide awake and got up at 5:30 cuz I was bored

not quite sure how the day is going to go, may travel to Kyoto today or tomorrow, depending on train schedules (I have to be there by 3pm tomorrow)

I didnt do much last nite, just went for a walk, but I did take pictures!
and theyre on the galery now!
just go to the edamamebeans link on the right of the screen!

I am CRIPPLED by the fact I cant get my palm to charge, it is NOT a good thing because its my subway map (london has NOTHING on Tokyos underground) and my translator.

my times going to run out and I still have things to do so thats all for now!

WELCOME to the wOOOrld of TOMOROW!!!

yes, I survived.
and yes, I`m here safe, but I dont think here will be here long considering that since my parents could never get me to respect a curfew im damned sure not paying for a 10:30 curfew, not to mention they close from 9am to 3pm. If I dont leave tokyo tomorow I`m going to find a nice hotel for the nite.

mom, dad,.. sorry, hope you read this, its 3am there and i cant figure out how to make international calls anyway.

I took some notes on the plane that I wanted to add here, and someday will, but my palm bateries are close to death and theres no way to charge them here, also I have to pay 100yen for 15minutes to type it.
suffice to say the plane ride was fine, tho delayed, then an hour bullet train (slowest bullet ever, we kept stopping on a nonstop) then some confusing subway antics (tokyo station is HUGE) that were alieviated by a very nice girl i chatted with on the train for a few, I think she enjoyed practicing her english tho. anyway here i am, for what its worth. and now im going to soak in teh public bath and then get some food before curfew.
i really did plan on staying out all nite tonite, but i think i could use a little rnr (NO IDEA where the and symbol is on this keyboard)
still- who knows, maybe a bath will revive me.

no links of the day, hi family, hi animals, hi jeanine, mina, adam, john, my clients, whoever had the missfortune to stumble upon this

and yes I know, this is by far the most ugly post I have ever made, but atm i really couldnt care.


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Nihon ni ikimasu!

well, thats it, its 5:30 am and im leaving any moment for the airport.
now it all comes down to numbers

4 family members, 3 pets and 87 friends I love dearly and will miss.

7 - hours of sleep I've had in the past two days
17 - hours of plane flight to catch up on sleep

~100 - things I forgot to pack
~45 - days those things will sit quietly in my room until I return.

Last couple days here were a blast, a lot of it due to Jeannine. (who went to go see Hairy Potter with me last nite after I only begged for 2 days) It was a good sendoff, I'm sure theres probably people that dont want to see my face for awhile. ^^;;

Anyway, when next I report I will be in Japan. This should be interesting....

Links of the day

*there may be no links of the day while I'm in japan- deal with it*
Sumo! sites like this make me glad I thought up the site of the day. I think youl agree this needs to be shared.
3dna a strange 3d desktop program, while not exactally useful for everyday tasks, its kinda neat.
Icelandic! here, learn icelandic thru listening, click "HLUSTRA"
Japanese! IF only I found this sooner, I might actually know something about Japanese before I land in Japan.

thats it, now get the hell out of here- oh wait- I mean go to my website! :P

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

I just signed legislation that outlaws AOL forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.

ahh if Ronnie was president now.

Watching the state funeral today, its like watching history.
I was a bit young durring 'the Reagan years' to really have many political views.
But I do remember Challenger, and I remember "Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall" and the wall comming down a few months later.

For the most part, his famous quotes (warning popups) are new to me.
Its funny how just a few weeks before I was thinking how no political leaders just tell it straight anymore, they use flowery wussy language, even when theyre trying to sound strong, for fear they might offend ANYBODY.

Reagan told it straight, and I think people really miss that in the Bush/Clinton/Bush era. Bush 2 is too afraid of public speaking to say most anything not writen for him, and Clinton had much style but very little substance.

Its no wonder why the loss of Ronald Reagan is felt so deeply.
I really wish I could have gone up to Santa Barbra to see him while he was there, but work and packing would not allow a 10 hr roud trip to do it. I do hope to go to the library where he rests when I get back from Japan.

On other notes, just as I thought, my last week in America is hectic, with my clients ringing my phone off the hook and many minor and major obstacles coming up. (where oh where did I put my plane tickets?!?)

I know in the end everything will work out tho, it has to. ^^

Links of the day

I gotta get a pair of these ^^
Ramune! - I plan on drinking a lot of this in Japan!
Megan, formerly of TechTV, retired to raise her child and now has this blog

Friday, June 04, 2004


Today I went out and spent a bunch of money.

Went over to IACE and picked up my airline tickets and bought a japan rail pass for two weeks.
Asked that cute travel agent out, but she nicely shot me down, oh well, I tried.

Then I went over to an invredibly confusing and overpriced mall after wandering around for a couple hours, I ended up just buying a pair of jeans, 2 button down shirts, a tshirt saying "time is an invention" and a belt from the Gap (or as I call it 'the Gap between your ears') because I hate trying on clothes without someone there to help me (V-chan! help me next time!)

This week my friend Jeanine is on a whitewater rafting trip with her mom, so I'm taking care of her two dogs for the week, going over there at least once a day to feed and check up on them. I dont mind, but I feel bad when I leave, because you can tell theyre bored to tears, even on the first day. Doesnt help that im alergic to dogs so I cant pet them as much as I can tell they want.

Last nite I played Gunbound with PrincessV, we had been trying to get to gether to play for weeks. It's a fun game, it's a new-age remake of that old game of 2 "tanks" shooting at eachother over a hill that I used to play in 7th grade in my Basic programing class. Afterwards she generously bought me a hat for my character, now I look like I have a roach growing out of my head!!

Links of the Day

only one link today, since I havent gotten many good ones lately I'd rather keep up the quality than go for quantity.
Techtales for anyone whos a computer tech, or ever was, or wants to be, read this, it might illicit a career change :P

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Whatever happens, happens

- Spike, Cowboy Bebop, "pierre le fou" (<-even my non anime friends would like this show)

Heard that last nite as i went to bed. Its a good philosophy.

Today I did some more work on turning in the very last of my paperwork and getting an international student and hostile card. Found out theyre having trouble finding me and one other student host families.
One of the things I dislike about being a vegitarian is imposing on others when they invite me over
Im guessing that its probably a big part of the problem, esp since I dont eat fish in a traditionally seafaring (hey its just a big island) nation.
If I have to live in the dorms I'll live, but I was really hoping for the imersive experience
Im verry timid in japanese and given the option to speak English I do which is a big problem in my learning.
Ill prob go out and party more in the dorms, thats one thing I was worried about with a host family is being able to go out, so as long as I get my work and learning done itll be worh it.

afterall, whatever happens, happens

Links of the day!

Domo-kun vs the Power Puff Girls stolen from Hibiki on aniverse, this is the best flash game I've played in awhile. It changes often, so if you dont like part of it just beat it. Any fan od 80's video games will love it ^_^
Acts of Gord This is one of those sites you spend 2 days rading and dont mind at all. Its a hillarious collection of stories of one asshole who oned a video game store in Canada and had to deal with theves, idiots, piracy and all sorts of other pranks and idiocies.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

spyware sucks (rant)

everyone hears about spam and viruses all the time on the news
most have also heard of some mythical thing called "spyware"

know what?
theyre damned viruses and should be treated that way by the lazy antivirus companies
they infiltrate like viruses, behave like trojans, and generally do more ACTUAL damage
to a system than real viruses these days.

I'm going off on this because of a poor client of mine today
he bought a new computer, and wanted to spice it up a bit
so he did a very logical thing:
he went to screensaver.com and got a couple screensavers, a vincent van gough one and the marine screen aquarium demo
at least the van gough one installed spyware, including incredifind
this program adds a search bar to your IE and seemingly routes all nameserver trafic thru their website. power outage over the weekend, his comp reboots and he can no longer get on the internet.
so i run adaware and it didnt find it (in its defence, I was not able to update the files due to the internet problem) so I google and find the wonderful site kephyr
which has a great spyware tool for us techs because it only links you back to its website (difficut with no internet for sure) for instructions on how to manually remove it.

Didnt work, nothing did, after 2 hrs more googling, I find out that NOTHING gets rid of this thing (actually I did remove it, but internet was still down) EXCEPT the uninstaller thats a tiny link on the bottom of incredifind's website
in order to FINALLY get rid of it, I had to REINSTALL the bogus 7day trial (expired) screensaver THEN it worked, with the spyware of course
then i got the most excelent spyware program in existance, Spybot Search & Destroy and was able to remove it AND keep internet working.

Some of you may call this client stupid. Quite honestly I would have done the same thing a few years ago and it DAMNED WELL should be a safe thing to do, get a trial of a screensaver from a site named screensaver. (I honestly dont know if its screensaver.com or screensaverS.com)

Yes, we looked thru the legal warning on the reinstall of the screensaver (he wants to sue, hes a lawyer) but honestly- whens the last time YOU read one of those. I sure dont.

spybot and adaware are good programs, and while my 1st experience with Bazooka (the one from kephyr)
it seems good too. The problem is, they dont share information like the major antivirus companies do, and until they get as organized as antivirus companies are, this problem will just continue to worsen. A study was recently released that said the average home computer has up to 30 tracking cookies and spyware programs on it. someone needs to get off their ass and organize an approach to this.

anyway, i feel better now. heres some non-related links of the day

Links of the Day

Someone buy me this

there, now you know kanji! you can thank me later ^^