* Been going to the work gym at lunch lately. Been a while, I didn’t know they had a new use-and-toss towel system. Feels good, but I really wish there were more free weights: The Smith machine for straight up-down lifts only gets you so far…

* I love all that I’m reading/seeing of the game “Sleep is Death”. Unfortunately, due to the two-punch combo of old Linksys router (no UPnP) and Vonage router, I can’t broadcast/receive on the port required to host a game, I can only play. I’ll have to look into that later.

* Pulled out of options this month on basic Scottrade while I basically move my cash over to Scottrade’s Options First getup. I like the services it provides, but it’s not as second-to-second accurate as Think-or-Swim: So I’ll probably need to use Options First to actually set my spreads, but ToS to do the planning.

* I’ve started practicing kanji again, doing about 10 a day: Mostly ones that I already know how to read, but either never learned (or forgot how) to write. Last night I went through 路,機,関,到,局,故,発 and a few others: All ones I could easily recognize or read, but totally forgot the stroke count, or would draw a blank when trying to write. Also, 機 (machine) I realized I never learned to write properly, so that was good practice. I’m going through the best books in the biz for learning kanji, the Basic Kanji Book (vol 2), Intermediate Kanji Book, both sets by Chieko Kano/Bonjinsha.

* Watching classic Shaw Brothers movies recently: The “Dragon Dynasty” studio has been remastering and re-releasing them recently, and they’re doing an incredible job: Most of them are so cleared up that they look like they were filmed last year, camerawork anachronisms aside. Watched Heroes of the East (ninjas in a kung fu movie!), My Young Auntie (silly parts are silly, but otherwise a phenomenal work with tons of budding kung fu legends) from Netflix, and I went out and purchased the remastered Five Deadly Venoms (五毒).

I realized after watching Five Deadly Venoms again – this was THE movie that got my young child brain interested in martial arts and The East – that it was much slower than I remember. It also has a far more solid, intricate plot that I expected, including an entire suspense/mystery/conspiracy. The characters are memorable even outside their animal stances (particularly “Toad’ and “Lizard”), and I found myself even sympathizing with “Cobra”.  Must have been the first “movie twist” that my eyes ever saw. And I figured out that, while there’s not as much constant kung-fu action as other Shaw Brothers flicks, the dress, mannerisms, styles and “powers” of the 5 leads take them from “kung fu badasses” and puts them into the category of “superheroes”. On the playground back in Baton Rouge in kindergarten and first grade, the boys didn’t play Cops and Robbers or Superheroes, we played “Five Deadly Venoms” (“No *I* want to be Centipede!”). Even after all these years and a wash of nostalgia, the remastered/Dragon Dynasty version of this flick is excellent.

* All my shoes are suddenly getting old. Or better yet it’s probably more appropriate to say that I finally am noticing that all my shoes are getting old. So I’m buying sneakers, hiking boots and sandals all at the same time. Ordered some sneakers to try from Zappos; traded in my ECCOs (which I love, but the size was never quite right for hiking socks) for Merrell/Vibram waterproof hikers; tried on several pairs of sandals (my ECCOs are wearing out, the velcro straps coming apart) from Teva but nothing fit quite right, instead picked up a pair of Sanuk flip-flops for work. Kinda expensive, but I tend to keep shoes for like 6+ years a pair, depending on wear, so I just have to suck it up.

* The new season of Japanese Dramas is here with a vengeance: I’m downloading left and right, will take a few days to watch the first 1-2 eps of each and separate the wheat from the chaff. For now, I’m kinda both looking forward to and at the same time dreading “Keibuho Yabe Kenzo” (Kenzo Yabe of the Police Department’s Public Safety Wing). It’s a spinoff of one of the side-characters from one of my favorite dramas (one of the most popular in the last decade), “TRICK”, which is a bizarre, surreal murder-mystery drama. Yabe Kenzo is the bumbling detective/comic relief, so while I appreciate the TRICK connection, I’m not sure if the series can stand on its own. We’ll see, I guess.

* Movies: Red Cliff (epic!), When the Last Sword is Drawn (totally awesome, but kinda long in a few places), Kick Ass (very fun), Hot Tub Time Machine (loved it), Time Crimes (cool time travel movie; poor girl), I Love You Man (cute).