Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Woo hoo!

That money from the Japan National Pension Fund arrived a few days ago. I actually debated the merits of paying off my credit card in one fell swoop for about thirty seconds or so.

"Well, if I pay off half now, or a third now, I could buy -- AAAAGH! STUPID!! PAY IT ALL OFF NOW NOW NOW NOW!"

So, as of today, I am DEBT-FREE for the first time since, oh, college. Wow.


Monday, January 18, 2010


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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Apropos of Nothing redux

Calvin & Hobbes, the Norwegian version


I'm hungry

Know what I could go for right now?


No, not this:

I want ramen.

No, DEFINITELY not this:

I want ramen.

You know...



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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Things are looking up for once

I get my money from the Japanese pension fund in the near future. Yaaaay!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm still here

...but I've been tired and grumpy lately, which doesn't make for good blog posts.

A while ago, I thought about stockpiling some draft posts for exactly this kind of situation, but I got through just one of them before I gave up the idea. (This isn't it, by the way.) It was just...blah. Actually more boring than this post.

Been working the day shift at work this week...it's so weird seeing daylight when I'm leaving for the day.

Having finished my St. Olaf Choir home concert tape conversion project...I need a new hobby-type diversion. Preferably something that doesn't cost anything...


Sunday, January 10, 2010

I've been a little less geeky than usual...

Somewhere in the mid 1990s, I became interested in Japanese animation and comic books -- anime and manga. I became a fan during the last of the VHS age, and the introduction of the DVD age. Back then, getting anime in its original language, subtitled, was far more expensive -- one or two episodes per tape, for $30-$40. Even dubbed anime was around $20-$30 for a couple of episodes.

I was still a fan when I went to Japan, and for a while I went crazy with buying of anime "memorabilia" (read: crap). However, time and overexposure led me to cut back after a while. A new job with a cut in pay also helped out...

One of the things I did as an anime fan was to write "fan fiction". (The few times I tried creating my own characters, my stories fell firmly in the 90% area of Sturgeon's Law1.) (Come to think of it, I'm not really sure if the rest of my fanfiction output made it out of that 90%...)

Anyway, the bulk of my fan-fiction output is (not very well) hidden on this website somewhere...a few one-shot stories, a songfic, and the first few parts of what would've been an amateur epic. I posted them on an e-mail mailing list called the FFML, where they were fairly well received. However, for a number of reasons, it took me longer and longer to post new stories and new parts of the one story...mirroring the slow decrease of posts on the mailing list. A flood of new fanfics were all of a sudden being posted to Fanfiction.net, and us old-timers on the FFML kind of looked down on most of those. However, since all of the newer fans went there first, coupled with some unfortunate circumstances -- service outages, a need to find new server space (twice in quick succession), etc. -- and a bunch of the old stalwarts giving up on fanfic for some reason or another, led to the FFML becoming pretty much moribund.

As for me personally, I slowed down for several reasons...including a massive continuity mistake in the first chapter, and throwing out my originally planned ending as unworkable...without a new one in mind. Even though I hadn't written anything new in my "epic" in a couple years, I finally broke down and started posting chapters to Fanfiction.net, taking the opportunity to revise a few things as I went. I was surprised to see a few reviews pop up, including one that said the reader had been following the story for a long time, and wondering if I'd ever finish it.

I thought about it, I really did...sometimes I still think about it. But last year, Yumi Touma (voice actress in the anime that I use for fanfiction) wrote something of a fan-fic of her own, a novel which was published by Kodansha in Japan, and Dark Horse in America.Her basic premise has some interesting parallels to mine, although she takes it in a completely different direction. Yikes.

So, my "epic" is in limbo at the moment, awaiting the day when I come up with a new ending, while being as original as possible. I DO want to get back to writing, but I'm not sure when it'll happen. I should post more to Fanfiction.net, a few reviews (either positive or negative) might spur some action on my part...

1 "90% of everything is crud."

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Friday, January 08, 2010

And now, your surreal meditative moment of the day

They say this is all CGI. All of it. Color me impressed. (^_^) (Watch it fullscreen, if you can)

The Third & The Seventh from Alex Roman on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

George Lucas on The Daily Show

...and the first thought that comes to my head is, "What's with George's neck?"

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
George Lucas
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Capsule Hotels

Back when I was on the JET Programme, the powers-that-be would sometimes have conferences/meetings/training seminars in various places...and if said places were far enough away, we'd have to get hotel space somewhere. Sometimes, the school board would supply the money, and other times not.

I never stayed in one of these places myself, but I know of a couple of ALTs from the hinterlands of Kagoshima prefecture would spend the night in one of these capsule hotels. Originally, the most common customer of a capsule hotel would be a salaryman who for some reason or another missed the last train home.

Nowadays, more and more people who've been laid off or have lost their housing for some reason or another are using the capsule hotel as a low-rent alternative to a homeless shelter. Some capsule hotels now have a monthly rate for such people (around $640), with free utilities. (Still pricey by Minnesota standards, especially for a box that's about 2 meters by 1.5 meters, and not tall enough to stand in.)

They seemed so bright and shiny and exotic when they were new -- I recall seeing a video of "Weird" Al Yancovic climbing into one on a Japan tour -- but now, they'd be perhaps kind of depressing.

Still, I doubt I would've been allowed to stay in one anyway; I sleep with a CPAP, and the noise would probably have kept an entire rank of boxes awake.


Monday, January 04, 2010

I'm not sure if I miss it or not

One thing that's very different here than in Japan: I am no longer the tallest guy in the room. Occasionally in Japan, I felt like I was the tallest guy in the city...

I was going to put up some photographs of me looming over the average Japanese people, but Blogger/ftp doesn't seem to be cooperating. We'll try that again later...

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The return to normality

The end of the holiday season means two things to an average retail employee:

1. Less stress -- No more last minute shoppers, less crowding in stores, more time to get other work done.

2. Less money -- reduced customer load leads to cutbacks in everyone's hours...


Friday, January 01, 2010

Weird thought of the day

Work today was kind of dead in the morning...go figure. (-_^) We were moving over the remnants of our Christmas stuff when one of the supervisors started doing...karaoke in the style of Billy Mays.

Mays doing Hurt by Nine Inch Nails...

***Brain Explodes***

I've been spending my scant amounts of free time re-reading books that I haven't had a chance to look at in years. I had quite the library back in the day...however, I sold off a good chunk of it before I left for Japan, and during my time there a flood in the basement removed another chunk. *sigh* And, I can't afford to buy more books (especially since I don't work in a bookstore anymore). Meh.

Still, books I haven't read in ten years is better than no books at all.