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.

If you have 50 bucks, you can buy the best anime ever

I just noticed the other day that my favorite anime epic, Twelve Kingdoms, is now packaged into one super-DVD set for only $50 at Amazon.

Link here:

If you’re not familiar with it, it’s basically the story of a high school girl that gets whisked away to a confusing, dangerous and splendid China-analogue world that runs parallel to ours. She has a great destiny there, and the series follows her and others in various tales of growing up and adventure. 5 story arcs in all, the first and third (which focus on Yoko) are the best IMO: Quite stirring and epic.

It’s slightly above the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series for “favorite anime”, above Fruits Basket, Full Metal Panic Fumoffu, and Vampire Princess Miyu.

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.

Camp Nerdly. Got your planner and pencil? Good.

Not an official call to arms or anything, just a joyous celebration that we got the first weekend we requested. Kudos to Mark Causey for pulling it off.

Prince William Forest Park, outside of DC (where it is each year).

May 21-23, 2010.

Much more discussion will happen on it later on message boards, the Camp Nerdly site, etc. For now, just know that we’ve got some solid dates!

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.

Thoughts on Monday

* The last time I took more than one vacation day in a row was back in July. I’m feeling the weight of needing to get out of here for a few days to relax and get it together.

* Not coincidentally, by January 2nd I’ll have one full month of vacation time amassed.

* Will probably do my traditional “January Staycation” around the time of my birthday: It’s been about a 7 year running thing now, might as well make it 8.

* Finance: APOL. 100 shares at 55, immediate sell to open of 1 order at like $250. Then the stock jumped up to (this AM) $59. Oh well, couldn’t have forseen that. Still, a free $250 is still a free $250.

* Sleep: 4 hours. Need to do better tonight, even if that means not writing/reading tonight.

* Recent Netflix Live: Man vs Food, Make the Yuletide Gay, The Hebrew Hammer, Bottle Shock

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.