Vacation, Day One

Yep, as expected, did the thing where I shoot awake, mind racing, thinking “OMG I’ve got to do that analysis for work!!” I’ve got to break myself of that for this vacation. Also realizing there’s so much stuff to do, I don’t know where to begin! For those watching from home, I haven’t taken more than one day off in a row since last June or something.

Today will be doing all the local errands that have been stacking up for a month. Will also clean up around the house, clear a workspace, set some goals. I’ll also have to meditate a little on the fact that I am not going to do the thing where I suddenly make mad plans or feel the need to do something drastic and not relax (like, “I’ve got two weeks free, why not visit Nikolai in Milwaukee or Drew in San Francisco for a day or two, I’ve got the frequent filer miles!”) just because I’ve got the time.

I plan to finish writing/editing the game I’m working on in the next few days, but I need a few days of downtime before swapping out one workload for another.

Nope. Today’s gonna start the vacation off small:

Clean up my bookshelf.
Run some errands.
Go to the art museum.
Check out the new Herman Miller chair at the showroom.
Work out a bit.
Come up with some goals re: Continuing Japanese.
Bust open the first section of Popolocrois II.
Finish the movie Gamer.
Maybe spend an hour or two on FFXIII.

I’ve got two weeks, I’m going to teach myself to relax again, and stay open to new challenges.

Tuesday Thoughts

* It’s been 11 years since Heisei 11.1.12, which means I’ve been married for 11 years, going on 12. So far: Awesome. Looking forward to 11 more.
–Incidentally, this is the first year in three years where I didn’t have to cancel/move anniversary plans due to working late putting broken shit back together. So that was a nice touch.

* Jason Thompson’s King of RPGs comes out today. If you are into tabletop RPGs but do not seek this manga out, you are dumb. I saw it about 7 years ago when it was done up comic style, before the anime facelift, and it was some good, light fun. I can’t wait until my copy is delivered.

* Rah Digga went to college for Electrical Engineering in New Jersey. Wow. My dad was always pushing me (lightly pushing, mind you, not like Burning My Sociology Books or anything) to become an engineer like him. Who knows, if I had followed in his footsteps I might now be pursuing a lucrative career in rap.

* Recently listening to: Hearts of Space. All the time. Best internet radio subscription I’ve ever purchased. These soulful, moody tracks are the soundtrack to my workflow.

* Two weeks of vacation start in 3 days, and they can’t come fast enough. I need to remember to take vacations with better frequency to avoid total burnout.

* Alternative writing software: Look into PageFour, Liquid Story Binder (likely the latter, as it has visual organization tools that I like). Scrivener for Windows would be a dream, though.

* My new glasses allow me the power to fire lasers out of my eyes.

* I might tire of Busta Rhymes’ focus on lyrics about money, but I will never, ever tire of his style, his lyrical flow or his phenomenal beats.

* I love reggae, it’s one of my favorite types of music: But only live. The only “reggae albums/studio songs” I can listen to are Bob Marley, period, and hate just about anything else (even the songs I like hearing live). I have no idea why this is.

* Will probably start blogging more about the Japanese I’m learning day to day. For example, all this time I never knew the Sen (銭) in Sentou (銭湯, or “Japanese public bath”), of which tou = “hot water” or “bath” was actually the same “sen” which used to be the standard for money before the Yen (“Oh, it’s THAT /Sen/. I never knew. Huh.”). Like 100 sen = 1 yen or something IIRC. Sen isn’t used any more, I think the last batch was printed around 1944, so they’re kind of an artifact.

* I love my Gunnar Optiks computer glasses (model: Shredder), I just need to find a way to get prescription lenses in these things so I can wear them longer. Unfortunately, it looks like “If you don’t live in California, you’re screwed”. Oh well, will keep trying.

Amazon Prime…

So normally I get most of my friend-feedback and comments on the crosslinked posts to LJ, Facebook, etc and I doubt this will be an exception.

Anyway, for my friends that have Amazon Prime: You guys pretty much talked me into trying it out for a year, considering all the home goods you can get without paying for gas/time to get to the mall, etc.

However, a question: What the hell do you do with all the cardboard boxes? Do you have any room in your recycle bins with all the box that you go through?

Just curious on that point: While Prime may save me some trips to stores and hook me up with awesome prices, the return in “labor of cutting up boxes and feeling white guilt at the mound of recycling matter” seems a tough balance…

Tuesday Thoughts

* Body fat down 2 percent since last month, but body weight unchanged. That means muscle, right? Makes sense, as I’ve been taking it to the next level at the gym and at home. Even bought some stuff, using it too! (swedish ball, a new pullup bar, resistance bands) I’m eyeing a 300lb Olympic bar and weight set (only $150 at Dick’s), but want to get traction on the stuff I have first before Buying More Crap. Still got far to go to get back to post-college weight, though.

* In the past 4 weeks I have purchased 4 floor lamps. All but one of them are completely different. I’m Japan-ifying our dining room even more with shoji paper floor lamps, and the living room with shoji-bulb thingies. Will take pics later.

* Bought pants. I went genuine clothes shopping at the Mall! It’s been, what, 2 years since I did real clothes shopping? In any case, I picked up two slick pairs of pants, one shirt, and realized that 95% of my clothing needs are fulfilled by Sears and JcPenny’s, just as has been the case for the last 20 years. I don’t mind Nordstroms, but price vs the style is a “yech” ratio. Looking into a new suit once I lose some more points.

* I still have Christmas/New Years/Aw fuck it Whenever cards to write and send. I dunno why my mind freezes up at the end of the year like that. I just don’t often know what to say. ” ‘Sup. Christmas, eh? YEAH! Well, see ya next year.”

* Saw Avatar in 3d. Aside from the eyestrain and verdio-headache from sitting near the bottom of the theater at the IMAX, it was awesome.

* Ordered another vat of Muscle Milk (vanilla creme). Since they lowered the fat calories ratio, it’s been my drug of choice. No lactose == friendly stomach.

* Realized I need to read Getting Things Done again, as I totally fell off the rails and am no longer getting much of anything done.

* Tonight I make soup. Wild rice, chicken, maitake mushrooms. Maitake mushrooms make everything delicious. I have no idea why they are not more popular than shiitake or portabello, they go well in everything from pizza to soup to toppings for omelets or meat to… well, anything. Hopefully we’ll see a cycle of more people using them, more appearing in stores, prices going down, etc.

* Exercise of the week: Stability Ball Plank.

* Reading:
Fiction: Still reading Greg Egan’s latest, Crystal Nights.
Nonfiction: Still cutting through Options Made Easy, Making it All Work.
Work: Overview of Flexcache
Manga: Between series now
RPG: Fusou Bukyouden, Weapons of the Gods

* Time to retire . Nothing more is going to happen with it, I’m plain tired of the manga at this point, might as well cut it loose and focus on other projects.

* Tenra Bansho Zero: See next item.

* Two weeks of vacation. Approved. Taking off last week of Jan/first week of Feb to do stuff around the house, travel a bit in the area, do some Sharpening the Saw stuff while thinking about what my goals are for this year, and hopefully finish the last of the pre-editing Tenra work.

Year of El Tigre

明けましておめでとうございます!It’s the year of the ->寅<-. Yippie!

“10 years ago” has been the Internet Theme for the past day. For me, 10 years ago…

* I had just left Japan and returned to the US, been in the states for a little under a month with 1 wife, 3 cats (Subaru, Chobi and Ku-chan), nowhere to live and about $4,000 to my name, saved up from a teaching/consulting gig in Japan.

* I was just starting my career over from scratch, temping at the Duke University Glaucoma Center. At this time, I started moving back slowly towards computers as a career, but I was still looking into consulting and training work.

* It was about a week before I “tried to teach myself Linux over the weekend”. LOL!

* I had been playing Thief: The Dark Project for 2 years, and Thief II for a few months.

* I was a size 34. Now I’m a size 36, trying to get back to 34.

* I was still feeling shitty about my previous relationship breakup (due to it being entirely my fault). Cut to 10 years later, when I dwell on it I still feel pretty shitty. Funny how time sometimes doesn’t blunt pain.

* I was looking forward to the next Matrix movies.

* Nikolai lived a few hours away in DC, Drew in Boston.

* My hometown in Japan was still called “Sakai-machi” (and I worked mostly in “Azuma-mura”), and both hadn’t yet been assimilated into Isesaki-shi.

* I was into my first year of posting on RPGNet.

America’s Greatest General…

…is probably Zuo Zongtang.

In just 30 years, he rose from total nothingness to conquer every American Chinese restaurant in the nation, as well as the hearts and minds of the American Chinese-restaurant-goin’ public. The first time I ever remember seeing or hearing of it was in 1990, Chicagoland (before that we lived in NJ, and never saw it on menus). 20 years later and I’ve not found a single restaurant in this nation that *hasn’t* sold it.

For edification: Jo Koy on Orange Chicken.

Thoughts for a Tuesday

Cat Life: Maggie bit me yesterday, pretty bad. Blood all over. What a mean old cat. I don’t like siberians.

Books: Reading lots of management books recently, I’ve been really interested in topics of working with people and creating a better work environment, even though I have no interest in becoming a manager (well at this time anyway). I just like creating an awesome and productive work environment. I think that’s the practical sociologist in me.

Books 2: Also reading lots of cookbooks, fitness books (the science of exercise, muscle growth etc), and memoirs (mostly comedians, huh). Haven’t been too interested in fiction recently: Kinda skimmed through most of Captain Alartiste, and eating through Greg Egan’s latest short story compilation on the side.

Manga: Haven’t read any for a while. Planning the next big order from Japan, including the latest Yotsuba-to, Mitsurugi, Detroit Metal City, Yuki-pon no Oshigoto, Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan, Soredemo Machi Wa Mawatte Iru, Saint Niisan, and maybe a few others. Will see if Ewen has any recs.

TV: Community is awesome. J-TV: JIN was the clear winner. It features “The Samurai” (Takao Ohsawa) from Aragami as Jin, a neurologist/surgeon from Tokyo who trips and falls, slipping through time back to 1870s Japan. He invents penicillin, cures a cholera epidemic, does lots of surgeries, and in the end… well, I won’t spoil it, but it was an unexpected and refreshing ending for such a piece.

RPGs: Bought Warhammer 3e, the giant box of death. It’s interesting, but will need to see what it’s like in play. Will probably run a one-shot in the next few weeks. Also re-reading Sword World 2.0 and Shinobigami. Playing a hack of Castle Falkenstein.

Buddhist Christmas: YEssssssss. The Hello Kitty stockings are hung from the chimney, and the giant plastic tree is festive and warming. I love Christmas lights, they really brighten a room without hurting the eyes. If I was a vampire that lived in a cave, I’d totally pimp out my vampire cave with christmas lights.

Video Games: Borrowed Borderlands, but found it to be bleh. Played Pixeljunk Shooter and Shatter on the PS3 (both PSN downloadable), both are excellent games (though I wish Pixeljunk Shooter was longer). Last night finished my 7th or so playthrough of Dead Space: That’s the game I turn to when things are getting stressful at work. Not very productive, but more productive than getting drunk. Also, on the side I’m playing Zelda: Spirit Tracks. Tres cute, I like the story.

Final Fantasy 13: Not here yet, but soon! Okiko did mail it EMS the day it came out (Thursday), so will probably take a few more days to get here. And that’s when I disappear.

Food: Learned a new way of doing okonomiyaki: Right when it’s cooked through and nearly ready to serve, you throw in water into the hot-plate and cover it, steaming it like a gyoza/pot-sticker. It makes the edges crispy and brown. Delicious!

Investing: APOL. Yeah, still riding that bull. Will see what happens in the next 3 days or so. Also have some NTAP as backup, will probably set options at 34, again depending on what happens in the next few days.

Investing Year Report: I started in February this year with opening a Scottrade hobby account with $2,000, and quickly got into learning about and placing options (call options, primarily). Added funds here and there throughout the year to my account, but at the end of the year I have $10,000. My goal was 3% growth per month. I made a lot of mistakes, some amateur, a lot due to impatience. I also didn’t do that much research, probably too little as a matter of fact: I only did about 1-2 hours of research/work *per month* in the latter part of the year, 1 hours of research per week towards the beginning. Still, I had a net gain of about 300% (tripled my money) within 10 months. Looking to do the same next year, while bumping my work’s stock gains into my private account. Then the next year, while adding more money. Then… what? Will need to think up some goals, because I’ve blown away my old ones.

Investing Reading: “Options Made Easy” by Guy Cohen, 2nd edition. THE best book (or even REFERENCE GUIDE, including information on the internet) on basic-level options information. Holy cow. Seriously. There’s this many people out there making shitpiles of money, and Cohen is like the first dude to come along and say, “Uh, how about we spell this stuff out so that folks who haven’t worked in finance for years can understand this, too…”? Jeez. Anyway, it’s even better than “Option Trading for Dummies”: Somewhere in the Dummies book the author forgets his audience. You skip/skim 2 pages and you might as well give up, you’re lost. Options Made Easy is the far superior resource.

Fashion: After the Story-Games fashion mess that exploded the other week, I went back to look at my clothes. I had been meaning to clean house for a while (get rid of old, buy new) but only recently put that into action. Did a 3 hour tour of the mall the other day, bought a few shirts (Structure one was my fave), scoped out shoes and pants, bought a pair of slacks and casual pants. Still have a little more SHAPE to get into, then will concentrate more on what I do with it. Also, I hate Nordstroms except when they have sales on Tommy Bahamas Hawaiian shirts, in which case I find them mildly bearable. Also, I confirmed that I hate blue jeans unless they’re baggy, but apparently baggy isn’t “in” anymore so I can’t find comfortable ones anywhere anymore, so le sigh.

Fashion 2: Read the Details: Men’s Style Manual based on a rec: About 1/3 is cool, useful info, advice, and inspiration. The other 2/3 is all about making you look like yet another rich white douchebag.

Vacation: Holy crap do I need one. The other day I realized that I haven’t taken more than one day off in a row for something like 7 months? Anyway, will be taking off three days in early Jan to think, write and /do/, then will probably take off a week or so in late January as per my tradition: The Birthday one-week staycation.

Computers: My ASUS eeePC (1005HA blue seashell with 10.5 hour battery) arrived from Amazon. Plugged it with the 2gb mem card, and have been using it as a laptop ever since. It’s a great machine for casual internet use, blogging, stock checks, reading, etc. A great machine to have when you’re on the couch and want to use IMDB to find out what other movie that one guy there has been in, because you know you’ve seen him in something else before…

(also, depending on the next month or so, I might get another desktop PC to replace my old laptop, something I can plug 2 big-ass monitors into to do work and trend-trading from home).

Eyes: New perscription. New glasses. Apparently my right eye is better than it used to be, but my left eye has a slight astigmatism. Now I need to wait until January 1st (Insurance reset) so I can get a pair of Gunnar Optiks computer glasses (“Shredder”) with perscription lenses.

Getting Things Done vs Franklin-Covey: FIGHT!

Recently I’ve been on a personal productivity kick… because I’ve been falling so very, very behind in my personal projects.

The Getting Things Done method works well, but it’s hard to keep up because I lack the motivation. Franklin-Covey has the motivation down, but its method requires walking around with a giant thick planner-thing in the Computer Age. I’m trying to find a kind of hybrid, something where I can do GTD-style updates online in private, then later prioritize them myself.

Most of all, I just gotta go through GTD again to inspire myself to get my shit functioning again. It’s going to be particularly important for this next year.

A fresh start…

Restarting KITKOWSKI.COM as a blog. This is the HELLO WORLD post. Will post more once all the settings are in order.