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Winding Down, or So I Thought

Down to 23 days now (yes, I am keeping a countdown). Winter break is over and it's back to school as usual. I thought my work would be over and I'd be enjoying my last weeks here with my friends. Apparently, I was severely kidding myself. I have been assigned three speeches to write and present in front of large groups of people, all within a week of each other.

One of them you already know about, my speech about rock paper scissors that I was toying around with. I did decide to go with it, and over winter break I spent an obnoxious amount of time trying to translate the version I wrote in English. Here's what I wrote in English:


あいこでしょ

                There is a saying that goes “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. It can be applied to books, of course, meaning that you shouldn’t judge the quality of a book based on the quality of its cover—or, things are not always what they seem—but it can also be applied to other, everyday things such as rock paper scissors (RPS).

                RPS is a game that is known around the world by many different names. Here in Japan it is, of course, “jan-ken-pon”, while in English the three symbols mean “rock”, “paper” and “scissors” [show gestures w/ meanings]. There are even more meanings for these three symbols, for example, in Vietnam and Indonesia the ‘fist’ represents a hammer, rather than a rock. The frequency RPS is played was one of the things that surprised me about Japan. In America, RPS is used for the same purpose from deciding who should use the bath first to who should partner up for a project—but in Japan it’s used much more frequently than in America. Even more surprising was that it wasn’t just for kids: adults played RPS as well without batting an eye.

                All of the RPS I have played to play brought to mind one of my classes from last year, Game Theory, which essentially combines statistics with psychology in order to achieve the “optimal result”. Obviously, Game Theory can be applied to bigger issues, but RPS is also an example of Game Theory, albeit a simpler one. In RPS, the “optimal result” is achieved by being completely random in what you throw. However, the “optimal result” in a series of RPS games would be an equal amount of wins, losses, and ties, but the goal isn’t to lose or tie, it’s to win. Humans in general are also terrible at being truly random. That’s where the psychology comes into play. There are several strategies that—while not perfect of course—increase the chances of winning.

1.       Beginners and men are more likely to use rock on their first throw. Why? Rock has a powerful and strong connotation, which appeals to men. So if you are playing with a guy or a beginner, you can use paper to counter them.

2.       Strategy two is to lead with scissors. You do this when you assume that your opponent is also trying to play a step ahead. I.E. you assume that they know you would counter their rock with paper, so you play scissors. That way you are guaranteed a tie at worse and a win at best.

3.       Strategy three is to be aware of someone using the same throw twice in a row. When they do, you can be sure that on their third throw they will change. The reason is that humans in general hate to seem predictable, so in order to be more “random” they will change their throw. That way, you can eliminate one option and use what would give you either a stalemate or a win.

4.       Strategy four is, when you have no idea what to do, use paper. You do this for two reasons; one of which being it beats rock, the most common throw, and also because scissors is the least used of the three options, by a few percentage points.

When you look at the simple example that RPS provides of analyzing your opponents, making predictions about what they would do based on your analysis, and then acting on that knowledge, it’s easy to see how the mindset of RPS can be applied to larger things: such as in business, when trying to outsmart a rival, or in war, when trying to outmaneuver your opponent. The latter is an extreme example, of course, but the principles remain the same just on a larger scale and with more at stake than not getting that last slice of pizza.

                So the next time you need to use RPS to decide who gets that last cookie, or the order for using the ofuro, with a little extra thinking, a victory is within the palm of your hand.
The title is pronounced "aikodesho" and you say it when you have a tie--it means something along the lines of "one more time". I'm quite aware that I could have gone much more indepth with the strategies (there are loads more) and some of the analysis, but this is already bordering on too difficult for me to translate as it is. The ideas are so techical that I had a hell of a time figuring out how to express them. And by all the red my teacher put on the first page of the translation, I still have a ways to go. But I'm not upset, I took on a challenge, so perfection was not expected.

The second speech is one AFS asked me to do, talking about "My Experience with AFS Japan" and partially a thank you to my host family. That is also supposed to be 4-5 minutes and I have to say it at the farewell party on the 22nd in front of AFS people, exchange students, host families and probably some other people as well. Slightly easier topic, which I finished writing yesterday and had my host mom look over. Not too many edits, just a few phrases that I'd written awkwardly were corrected:


六か月。八月に私は六か月がとっても長い時と思いていました。しかし、いま六か月が飛んで行きました。いま、私はアメリカに帰るのが信じられません。日本はすごく楽しかったです。そうして、AFSと私のホストファミリのおかけで私は楽しい時をすごしました。私はたくさんの大切な友達を作りました。私もはAFSのいろいろなイベントに参加しました。感謝の気持ちでいっぱいです。

去年四つのAFSの出来事は私にお気に入りの思い出になりました。その出来事はJenesys FestivalとDisneylandとおせんべいを作りている工場と銭湯に行ったことです。そのイベントはすべて日本の文化がありますからそれらは私の日本の経験を表します。

おせんべいの日私はおいしいせんべいを作りました。それは私のはじめてのおせんべいを食べた日でそうして私が作ったおせんべいの味は愉快でした。

次は銭湯に行った時です。日本でそれは私の一番こわい経験です。アメリカには比べるものはありません。バレリアと彼女のLPといっしょに行きました。とっても楽しかった絆の経験です。銭湯の牛乳もはおいしかったです!今も私はその牛乳ポーズを覚えています。

三番目はDisneylandです。その時に私はジェネシスの人たちやたんだひろしさんと仲良くなりました。私たちはたくさんの楽しいアトラクションを乗っているあいた私たちの国の文化について話をしました。とっても面白かったです。

最後はJenesysFestivalです。そのフェスチバルがAFSの心を描くと思います。イベントのテーマは友情と理解、二つとも私は見つけた。

                AFSと私のホストファミリは毎日励ましてくれました。時々私は心配したりストレスをかんじました。しかし、毎日大切な人が私を助けてくれました。私はみんなさんをぜったいに忘れません!

                AFSと私のホストファミリ、みんなさんおかげで本当に楽しく過ごしました。日本にいる間に私は自分の心が成長しました。その中でもこわがらないことが一番重要なです。完璧な文法はいいですけど心配しないでください。人たちが自分のポイントを分かる、それでいいです。そうして、未来の留学生へがんばってください!本当に私の心からありがとうございました!この六か月私はとっても嬉しかったです。
Honestly, I'm rather proud of it.

The third speech is my school asking me to write a brief goodbye speech which I have to say in front of my school year. I kept it short...two paragraphs, mostly just saying what a wonderful time I had, thank you, I won't forget you and other general mushy stuff.

So now that they're all written...next comes the practice, because my reading lacks flow. *Sigh* More work for me...why couldn't I just get to relax?

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