Feelgood music for a shitty week!

Health: Almost completely better, only mild stomach funk left.

But work’s been a real monster. I’ve been reading Kitchen Confidential in my off-time, and this week work’s been feeling like a prep line during a week-long rush hour.

So some feelgood music from Japanese Soul artist “bird” (バード):

Mondo Grosso feat bird


And heck, some feelgood breakdancing at a popping/locking competition.

Brief: Stockplay! Gaming! And Writing!

Praxis: Back in the saddle on writing: Did two pages of translation last night, it felt plain good.

Gaming/Japanese Translation: Shinobigami: Wow, whatta game. I’m only about 20% understanding how it works based on the replays and rules text (for me it’s got a high time vs return rate than other recent books, still it’s not that long so its just a matter of time). I like how fights end the first time anyone takes damage. I also like the

Gaming: Owl Hoot Trail: The simplicity of the classes (hearkening back to Red Box Hack) and system, plus the anachronism of the setting, kept things really interesting. I loved diving into character without keeping track of Angst points and Innuendo Scenes.

Gaming: PS3: Just Cause 2 and Resonance of Fate are on their way from Amazon now. Not a lot of time to dedicate to either right now (they’ll mostly keep me busy during summer downtimes). But after playing the JC2 demo about 20 times, I figured it’s prudent to get the real deal.

Fitness: Wow. So not in shape, and not even due to all that gaming stuff above: Mostly poor meal choices at work and being sick/lethargic. Spring is now kicking my butt, though, so I’ve been doing more. Just need to do more MORE.

Stocks/Options/Other: So a bit ago I talked briefly about the option types I was playing around with: Namely diagonal spreads (avg goal: 10% gain/month) and riskier vertical spreads (avg goal: 20% gain/month, with spikes up to 35%). I forgot to mention that I fell in with the new wonky-trade branch of Scottrade, “Options First” (options.scottrade.com). What’s cool about this site is that like some other sites, you can create an account, put no “real” money in it (or associate it with any real money accounts), and simply practice your trades with “play money” for some time to become familiar with the system. I started last month with $10,000 in “play money”, and now have $11,500. %15 in one month, pretty nice! (this was from a one year/two month diagonal against APOL, and a two-month vertical against CREE) These are slightly riskier than owning stock and putting options against it, or making put/call orders when real stock is on the line, which basically means “I need to check my account for about 1-2 minutes every day or two”.

But otherwise, I’m liking what I see here. Unless the market totally crashes and we star buying up shotgun shells and dog food, I figure that I can maintain a zero-tau against my mortgage, house utilities and food with a starting pool of $20k… just need to get to that level first.

Orie: Kicking ass and taking names at CCCC. She’s near the top of her class at one of the hardest veterinary tech programs in the country, and she doesn’t even speak English as her first language. CCCC is a kind of mixed bag: They want to be taken seriously, but they try too hard. A lot of the professors just plain suck at teaching, handing out “busywork” as assignments. Still, Orie’s mauling the program like a wild animal.

Interesting story: So, while she’s kicking ass, she’s putting a lot of extra effort in due to the language issue. When she was in the registrar’s office, she mentioned to the admissions advisor something like that, like “Sometimes it’s really hard though: I bet I’m the first international student you’ve ever had here in your vet tech program.” The registrar/admissions advisor said, “Oh, no, not at all! We’ve actually had three international students go through the program, yessiree! Two of them were from England, and one was from Australia…”

Orie couldn’t think of anything to say in reply.

Thursday Thoughts

*  On the last legs of my sickness I think. Still feel woozy sometimes, dizzy due to inner ear gunk.

* Feel like I’m going to go home from work today and sleep until tomorrow.

* I was going to write something here but now I forget. Huh.

* I’m a stress eater. This week, re work, I’ve been eating and drinking *a lot*. It’s not so much the Redvines (thanks, Joe), it’s the cheesy Easter chocolate. And not been to the gym in a few days. I can actually feel the fat cells multiply. Time to get over to the gym and into the Gyroscopic Mecha Exoskeleton (aka Adaptive Motion Trainer from Precor) then hit some weights.

i contain multitudes

I’m wearing my favorite T-Shirt, the Che Guevara one I got from Nikolai.

And I’m currently checking my NYSE stock profile on my netbook.


hmmm, then again, it does say “hasta la victoria, siempre!” …it might be indicating a fight onwards towards success with capitalist stock investments? :-)

Juuuust About Better…

* So 5 days of illness, starting with a nasty throat condition where I couldn’t speak, then switching gears to a horrible sinus condition of sorts (I still am stuffed up in the ears, but I think sinus infection/ear infection chances are low at this point)… Alllmost over it. Still, body feels a little weak today, very tired. Just wrote a little and watched some Netflix streaming movies. “Outsourced” was a really cute movie. “My Faraway Bride” was about as telegraphed and empty as a pop-idol choreographed dancing. Binging on classic Shaw Brothers Kung Fu stories now, and pre-ordering Red Cliff for an eventual RTP group movie-watching… thing.

* Went to the gym today to do a little, because after like a week of doing nothing I feel lethargic and sluggish. So they added two pieces of new equipment to the LFF gym I go to: This thing called an “adaptive motion trainer“. It was both awesome and bizarre: It’s basically like strapping into a resistance exoskeleton, basically all the benefits of a stair and elliptical in one, where you set your pace from step to step. Brilliant: It was bizarre when I realized that I was having so much fun that my heart rate was like between 155-170 for about 40 straight minutes. Every time I measured my heartbeat I had to back off so I WOULDN’T DIE. Then I’d forget and “have fun with it” again, only to realize I was back up to 168.

Part of that was because I’m out of shape due to busy/sickness. But most of it was because you’re having so much fun you don’t notice.

I swear, if they strapped a 14″ monitor to this thing, where it gives you a visual like you’re in a robot suit stomping/running across an alien landscape, bounding over boulders and canyons (because that’s what this thing feels like when you use it), I WOULD NEVER LEAVE THIS DEVICE.

* Not ready for this “hour later” thing. It’s 8:00 but it feels like it’s 5:00. I know, it just moved up an hour and all, but I’m still recovering from all this sick so it’s having that much more weight.

Anyway, bed early tonight, work early tomorrow…

The Sickness

Always happens around springtime: Mmmm-mmmm. Sinus infection. Or just “allergies” which, while not creating a full-blown infection, feel like a curb-stomp to my face and breathing.

Tired, achey, face full of solid snot which is rapidly turning to liquid snot thanks to Day-Quill Sinus… Hope this clears up by tomorrow…

Tuesday Thoughts

Exercise: Haven’t been to the gym but once in the last week.  Need to change that. When I go to the gym, I’m motivated to do more, make more gains, eat less bullshit, keep on the game. Got caught up in a cycle at work where I was tired, so I didn’t go to the gym, so I ate crap, and became tired, so I didn’t go to the gym… Going again tonight. Even a few minutes makes a huge difference.

BIG-XX this Fall: Looking forward to it. I didn’t go to my high school(s) reunions, college reunions, but damn I won’t miss my social group’s reunion. I hear the campus has changed a lot, will have to see that with my own head-orbs…

Spring is Here: I can tell because I have a sore throat and my nose won’t stop running.

Investing: The next game is getting an account at options.scottrade.com, and start applying what I’ve been learning about Diagonal and Vertical Spreads. Low-risk calls making 10-25% a month? (30% if I’m more aggressive, risky?) Yes, please. I turned $2500 into $10,000+ last year as a hobby/messing around, I wonder what I can do this year starting with that 10k… Only problem is that these take more research and control than regular options trades, so I have to be that much more careful.

Gaming: Been a slow month. Haven’t done actual role-playing games in a few weeks, as my main group has been between campaigns, playing Rock Band, boardgames and the like. Tomorrow we start up with Mouseguard, and will go from there…

Robot Unicorn Attack is far more fun that it should be at a glance. Very addictive. Also, Erasure. Woah.

The Wii Life, Monday thoughts

*Thanks to Mark C, been a busy beaver. Well, an unbusy beaver with things I should be working on, but busy with leisure:

** Fatal Frame 4: CLEARED. This game is not coming out into English because Nintendo is stupid: They are forcing TECMO to implement some sort of changes or bugfixes that TECMO doesn’t have the money to do, and thus everyone loses. And yet, while the game was overall pretty ok (gameplay) to great (story), it could be that Nintendo is protecting western audiences from the MOST ANNOYING BOSS BATTLE IN YEARS.

** Oboro Muramasa: The Demon Blade: Cleared 3 of 6 endings, watched the other three on Youtube. Incredible game. If you’re learning Japanese, this game is basically Level 10 of your learning cycle. It is endless awesome of middle-ages spoken royal grammar, with both keigo and low speech cranked up to “11″, and tooooons of references to classic Buddhist references: Various Boddhisotvas (Acala/Fudoh-Myou-oh? Shinra-Bansho/The Universe? Sweet). It’s 3 kin of Japanese culture in a 380 monme bag.

** Fragile/Goodbye Ruins of the Moon: I mentioned before that this is like a Feelgood Anime Fallout 3. Gotta revise that: It is better described as “Sorrow and Loneliness: The Roleplaying Game”. If you like unique experiences in console games, you GOTTA check this game out. Admittedly, there’s some boring bits with long empty hallways,  and the inventory system is a little shady at times in the length of menu switch times, etc.  But overall: Holy crap, got choked up a few times.

Why? We don’t know what the incident is, the game doesn’t talk about it at all and is likely not to. But at some point most of humanity dies, billions and billions of people. And the thing is, they all knew it was coming and had time to prepare themselves. So you encounter these artifacts, toys and books and items and stuff, and when you pick them up you hear the story of their owners: Abstract pictures appear while the narrator tells a small story:

- A wedding ring. A father in law talks to his daughter in law, welcoming her into their family. Later, you find another item where it’s the father in law railing about the sorrow that his son and new daughter will never have a chance.

- A dog collar. The dog narrates, licking his master’s face as he cries.

- A school class picture, and a kid laments that he loves those school days, and is afraid of dying alone.

It’s a very similar overall theme to Fallout 3, but man the emotional punch this game packs is both brutal and exhilarating, far more than Fallout. It’s hard to reconcile that with the fact that the game looks and feels so anime sickly-sweet.

Anyway, I count it as a *must-play*. If you’re into light console RPGs. And gut-punching sorrow.

If you were interested in the teaching power of manga/comics, watch this…

So this show called “imagine-nation” is running in Japan: It’s a show in English about mostly “otaku-y” stuff like manga and video games, interviews with artists and producers, etc.

This time, they have a huge interview with Saibara Rieko. Who is hands-down my absolute favorite manga artist in Japan. I’ve been a fan of hers every since I saw her stuff back in 1998 in Tokyo Walker, and her “Chicken Head Travel Journal” manga series about her travels all over 3rd world asia. She does awesome things, then uses manga (and often interjects real photographs as well as a kind of “Scrapbook”) to describe those events.

Here’s a lengthy Japan Times article about her, including translations of some of her manga.

And a second article about her life, and a one-on-one interview (huh, didn’t know she was that poor, or got thrown out of high school)

I was flat-out shocked that someone did a piece on her: Even though she’s really popular with adults in Japan, she has absolutely zero “otaku power/cred”. NOTHING. Her drawings are cheap and sweet and often terribly offensive, her journeys through south asia and south america are incredible and interesting and full of cool vignettes but nothing about Akihabara or panty shots or mecha. None of her works are becoming (or can become) anime, so no one will ever hear of her in America, which is a total fucking shame.

Anyway, after reading her unique comic style I pretty much became obsessed with this kind of “travel journey” manga, and even saw the format replicated in RPG-themed actual play manga as well. In fact, I’ve kinda waffled on doing my own slice-of-life/journey manga about stuff that I did in Japan, or stuff that happened at work or the like.

Anyway, Saibara Rieko: Awesome. Adventurous. Tumultuous. And an explorer of using manga in totally new ways.

Here’s a link to the d-addicts torrent post: http://www.d-addicts.com/forum/viewtopic_82786.htm

Here’s a direct link to the torrent file: http://torcache.com/torrent/8038072E8EB14D13B08E680015B97424CF5CE3C3.torrent