Life

See you on G+ !

Hey all, Andy here.

I’ve become an active G+ user over the past year. Please follow me over there!

This site will eventually be returned, maybe turn into a resume-site or something. I used to use this place to post thoughts on Japan, my latest Finance stuff, etc. But G+ is a lot easier to maintain, so I’m dropping this site. Will likely kill the database as well, you can always use the WayBackMachine if there was something I said that you found interest in.

Thanks!

-Andy K

Wha Happen?

Wow. Been meaning to update for a bit. But strange things happened since my last:

* Right after the last post, I got sick for 10 WEEKS. First a viral bronchitis, then a standard cold, then the flu, then ??? I was able to recover, but by then it was mid-winter. A cold, harsh winter that also left me listless but inactive.

* Then I got busy on projects, namely finishing up the last of Tenra Bansho Zero, an RPG project I’ve been working on for almost six years now.

* I got a huge promotion/job shift at work, which basically moved me from a Rodeo Cowboy to a Rodeo Cowboy on a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a lake of fire and electricity. Awesome job, but VERY involved. Some 19 hour days (sometimes followed by 4 hour days, so that’s nice).

* Then I went to Japan to visit family/friends and travel for almost a month.

* Then I came back with a nice nasty ear infection. And allergies.

* Oh, but I’m learning classical guitar now! That’s new!

Man, I really don’t get sick all that often. In fact, 2009 I don’t recall being sick more than around the Winter-Spring change of seasons. But the last six months I was wrecked, more than once.

Anyway, getting back up to speed. Been in a state of both active and not active (depending on which area of life you look at).

More to come soon!

A random Saturday update

Been a while: I’ve been doing a lot of my micro-blogging from Facebook. Getting slowly back into longer updates for friends and acquaintances.

But here’s what’s been happening to me lately;

School: I passed on two high school and one college reunions, but I damn well made sure I went to my social group (think “Frat lite”)’s twenty year reunion. It was a real trip.

– Spent several days hanging out with my best friend Nikolai, and seeing the wonders of Milwaukee. It’s a far cooler place than it has any reason to be. Between the FUEL coffee house, the Urban Ecology Center, the music scene, green building, etc. Great stuff.

– The reunion was cool too: I basically went up with the target of meeting some friends, reconnecting with others, and staying away from everything else. Mission accomplished. Even reconnected with a friend that has the same hobbies as me after all these years (anime, games, etc).

– At night, after walking some folks to their rooms/taxis, I did one last late-night tour of the college campus, stopping off at every single building at the campus that I lived in or had a class in. So many memories came flooding back: Most of the buildings are made well, so are in great shape even after 13+ years. Old friends, old relationships, old mistakes, old victories… college is so weird, but then again for four years, including the summers, I pretty much lived and worked and studied and socialized within the same square mile of buildings..

Sick: After coming back, I promptly caught some kind of bug: defenses likely worn down because of stress at work and Green Bay weather, then the viral tube AKA airplanes set off the rest: Sickest I’ve been in about two years (last time I went to the doctor was over two years ago): Massive viral infection, fever, and weird side effects like dizziness and hiccups for the most of four days. I think I’m getting better now, but man I hate to be gone from work for a few days, only to have to take a week off. Friends at work mentioned that entire departments are getting hit by bugs, with people being out sick, the people sitting next to them out sick, and so on. So I guess I’m glad I didn’t push too hard.

So as not to have too much tl;dr, I’ll save the second half for tomorrow.

Music to Japanese Classic Games

So when I was using Wikipedia to look up Cee-lo (the musician, after the release of his awesome new video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAV0XrbEwNc ), I instead found links to the Cee-lo game, a classic Chinese dice game:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cee-lo

Interesting. I was looking all over the place for the rules (in Japanese, even) for the old Japanese/Yakuza dice gambling game “Shigoroku”. And there it is.

Projects, projects, projects…

Got back from a convention, finishing a writing project, getting deeper into a work project, and restarting my fitness and finance/investing goals.

Gonna be an interesting year.

More later.

Bike: Achievements Unlocked!

I’ve been tracking my progress a little recently. This AM marks the 50th mile (actually closer to the 60th) on my new bike I got last week at The Bicycle Chain in Apex.
My first two times I clocked in at almost exactly 45 minutes from leaving my kitchen to parking my bike in the lot/checking time in the 1st floor gym. Today, the same route only took me about 35 minutes.
Loaded up on water and pre-surge, too, to get a little more out of the morning workout. We’ll see if I end up crashing come 10:00 or not (particularly today: Only got a little less than 4 hours of sleep).  Luckily, the 10 pounds of Yerba Mate tea I ordered arrived, which will combat the effects of Not Being Wired.
-Andy

OK, That wasn’t thought out very well

So on my week(oid) of vacation(ish), I was thinking to myself, “Hey, now that I’ve got this awesome new bike, I ought to bike to the library to do some Japanese translation hobby/game work that I’ve been working on! A change of scenery might shake me out of some funk!”

Great idea, because scenery changes often do shake funk loose.

There are only a few problems:

* Biking to the library, vigorously. I took the long/scenic route to get some exercise. It was nice, even in this ungodly NC summer 95-something degree blast.

* Unfortunately, by the time I hit the terminal, I was covered in sweat, and sweating more and more as my heartrate hadn’t totally reset yet.

* And then I remembered that, while I can get to JDICT (basically the academic bastion of All Japanese for English speakers, including Kanji lookups and the like) and see displayed Japanese, I can’t type Japanese on this PC without jacking the profile and installing software.

Oops. Well, when my heart resets I’ll take a breather and ride home, do the work there. Maybe hit up the coffee house near my place for an hour with my laptop for a change of scenery.

Recovering…

Got a little sick on Friday, been on and off ill this weekend, still waffling on calling in sick on Monday or not. Blarg.

In other news:

* Thanks to Craigslist, my Gaming Table went up a level. It is now a Level Four Gaming Table (+1d4 followers, +2 Comfort Points). New awesome/comfy Crate and Barrel chairs at 1/3 the price, basically.

* Wow, the market’s been really interesting the past few weeks. Turns out I made out on CREE, and thanks to sticking to my plan and not revising in the face of emotion (“OMG, the stock price just jumped up! Maybe I should cancel my options and re-buy in at $70!”), I’ll still be making 10% this month. Up to 20% if CREE hits or exceeds 70 by the third Friday of July.

* Writing, revising, editing on Tenra. My files are kinda scattered, I think I need to spend 1-2 hours re-architecting my data to be clearer as to which files are done, which are in-flight.

* We never go to Crabtree Mall, because the parking sucks. However, using a coupon for a restaurant took us to the area, so we went. Turns out, as faceless shopping emporiums go, Crabtree is far better than Southpoint for one reason: The rent for the stores is cheaper. That means less “every mall chain store” stores, and more unique stores. Like the LEGO store, and the “Teavana” store, where I got some really awesome tea. My leg is shaking as I drink their Creme Earl Grey. Strawberry Puer-eh is delicious, too.

* Bought one of the coolest T-Shirts I saw at Sears. It was on sale for $9. Turns out it was actually $5. Score. I love Sears: Banding with Structure was the greatest merch move of the last decade.

* Also, I now have an awesome, well-made Ganesha T-Shirt. I’m throwing away crappy old shirts and rotating in new shirts.

* Exercise: Not going so well. Will be kicking it back up this week when I’m less sick.

* Red Dead Redemption. Awesome. But wary of the time-sink, I’ve got other things to do.

Thoughts on a Wed^H^H^H Thursday

* Started writing a post yesterday, found myself lacking in time, deferred to today.

* Sleeping schedule messed up again, starting to feel sick, will need to reset again this weekend: Due to some insomnia, I’m only sleeping like 3-4 hours a night, so I go to work and bust ass: After work, though, I’m so drained I can barely think. So I take a nap after work, only planning on sleeping about 30-40 minutes to refresh. 3-4 hours later, I wake up again, feeling tired, trashed, but awake enough to do some follow-up leftover work. Do the work, check some email, crash again. Repeat. This has only been happening this week, but man it’s a bad cycle. Need to stop it. Thinking about dosing on Yerba Mate before I get home so I don’t nap, and just go to bed early. Will be trying this tonight.

* Had to pick up a few new T-Shirts: The old ones were getting… old. And when 3 years ago my company *stopped* giving us free T-Shirts every other week for some small new product release I *was* happy at the reduction of waste, admittedly… but some of those were alright, and now I’m starting to even lack a typical “the company where I work” Tee.

Been looking specifically at religious iconography: Got a cool “OM” shirt, and stumbled across an excellent picture of Ganesha on a shirt. Unfortunately, most such T-shirts are either lame, “funny” (but not really), or just tacky/plain. There’s no Buddhism-themed T-Shirts (yeah I know how weird that sounds, but bear with me) that are interesting. Kinda made me think about going back to some calligraphers and maybe doing up some prints.

* Helping redo the kanji in the margins for John Wick’s Blood and Honor. It’s an interesting process. If you have the game, the Japanese in the margins is (currrently: “some sort of”; soon: “actual”) Japanese traditional proverbs and the like. Gonna aim to do it all up pretty-like, like the cover of Kagematsu.

* On that front, I found some AWESOME resources for classic Japanese proverbs and expressions, which include both the Japanese and English translations. I’ll tell the whole story later, but basically 80% of the proverbs/sayings that are on websites that collect proverbs from around the world and attribute them to Japanese… are bullshit. Turns out they simply don’t exist, or exist in a form so unrelated it should be stricken. But since these expressions/proverbs websites copy content from each other without fact-checking or noting the original Japanese, these fake expressions continue on. More on that later. But for now, the good sites/google books that have true, real proverbs (which honestly are more awesome than the fake ones anyway):

http://www.languagerealm.com/ <– The Japanese proverb section is very well thought out! Tons of great stuff here.

http://books.google.com/books?id=wGb4zNqYj10C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false <– Tons of classic expressions with complete explanations. I might try to score the original print on Amazon later. The original Japanese is not noted, but the romaji version of the original Japanese IS noted, so that means the proverbs are both Real and Relatively easy to find on Japanese language sites.

http://books.google.com/books?id=qQPWtyEP23kC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false <– Also great, includes original Japanese, romaji and hiragana.

* Market has been interesting for the past few days. Pulled out all my ESPP shares, putting that money back into the market (75%) and a new screened-in porch (25%). I need to follow up on that last post re CREE in July: That was an interesting play, and it paid off, but I’m still following the rollercoaster that’s been happening on that stock the past few days.

* GenCon is six weeks away. Yikes! Gotta buy plane tickets. Let me know if you’re going, we’ll meet up.

* Mark Causey is an awesome human being. He stepped up to help me out with last minute doc changes on Tenra. We’ve got a weekend set aside as a failsafe; “If I don’t have any time to do this work between now and then, we’ll have a marathon session and get it all done then.” That’s exactly what I needed.

* Watched two time travel/comedy movies from Japan recently, both were funny and fun (the latter being more “scientific-ish” than the former): “Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust”: About a girl sent back in time to the year 1990 through a time-travelling washing machine by the minister of finance, on a goal to A) find her mom, who went a few days previous but hasn’t returned, and B) stop the Japanese economic bubble of the early 90s from ending so catastrophically (imagine our S&L scandal on top of our housing bubble, multiply that by 10, and that’s what happened in Japan in the early/mid 90s). Lots of funny “this is what the 90s were like” moments, charming story, fun all around. The other  is “Summer Time Machine Blues”, a more “time travel/paradox realistic” yet still as silly/laid back movie about a bunch of boys in this school “SF club” who happen upon a time machine and initially try to use it to get back a broken air conditioner remote control. The results are basically Primer-level paradox-upon-paradox which eventually all  have to get resolved by the end. Without melting your brain, even.

I highly recommend both: Bubble Fiction is more for the anachronism lols, Summer Time Machine Blues is the better SF movie yet still wrapped around a fun, youthful plot.

* Money goal: If this investing continues to pay off, I’m thinking about going back to school specifically for Japanese study. Not even for a career change or anything, just because it’s something I love and want more time/resources to dedicate to getting better at it.

* d20 cuff-links on etsy: Bought.

Oh Crap, 196 new Joyo kanji!

So for those J-Learners, the Joyo (Jouyou, but Hepburn can kiss my ass) kanji are the kanji that it was determined all literate people should know. I think the stats are something like, “Aside from place/people names, any given piece of literature (read: The Newspaper) has to be 90% (95%?) readable given the 1945 characters of the Joyo kanji pool.” In other words, if you know all the Joyo kanji (and presumably their combinations, etc) you can pretty much read anything.

Looks like this move was made to increase not so much the “kanji you need to know back and forth, read and written”, but rather “kanji you need to at least recognize upon reading, as they appear more often in this generation”.

I just got word that the total is increasing to 2136, adding 196 kanji and removing 5.

At first, I reacted as per the title of this blog post. But then I saw the list, here:

http://tinyurl.com/yjf4sh

Originally found out about it from this blog over here.

Uh… OK. That’s actually not that bad at all. Out of the 5 being removed, I only knew one anyway. And of the 196 being added, just by reading normal stuff (manga, news, books, etc) you already know most of them anyway. Seriously, “Ore” (the manly “I” pronoun) wasn’t a Joyo kanji already? Huh.

In fact, going over the list at the link above, there is only… 36 I can’t read/recognize. Double Huh. That’s not so bad.

An interesting side note: A lot of these I learned directly from Japanese tabletop role-playing games.妖(bizarre, “Ayakashi” in the game uses this kanji)、刹(shrine, but it is also the second kanji of “Rakusatsu”, or “Rakshasa”, an evil spirit)、爪(claw)、脇(side/ribs)、瑠(treasure)、虎(tiger)、駒(horse/cavalry)、嵐(storm)、怨(grudge; like from the movie)、斬(to slice with a katana; “to kill” in samurai-speak)、溺(drown)、呪(curse) alone I picked up from Tenra Bansho Zero. Others like 呂 I picked up from equally geeky sources (It’s part of Lu Bu’s name, the terror of the Three Kingdoms era).

So, interesting. I’ve got almost 40 new kanji to learn at some point, and not nearly as bad as I thought. Cool. And if it sounds scary, don’t sweat it. Most of them you’ll pick up from comics or daily life anyway (丼、串、俺、尻、旦、嗅、etc), not to mention place names.