The Challenge Series, part one

I need to post quickly, to achieve my Tomo-esque ends. That is, namely, to post my tenth post for the month of January.

Haha, GreyDuck! We’re tied!


[For those who don’t get the reference (which is probably everybody but me): in the particular Azumanga Daioh scene I’m attempting to emulate, Tomo (unabashed idiot) decides that she’s going to challenge Chiyo-chan (child genius) in class. Their first—and only—competition is when Chiyo-chan is asked a question, and doesn’t know the answer. Tomo then shoots her hand up, only to admit that she too doesn’t know the answer. Tomo then turns around to Chiyo-chan and proudly announces that they are tied.]

My poor, neglected blog

Time has been in short supply for the last while. Also I’ve been feeling lazy.

Things aren’t going to get better for the next couple days, though, because I’m headed off to Sun River over the weekend to celebrate Andy’s birthday. I don’t anticipate having internet access, and even if I do have internet access, I’m not planning on bringing my computer. I will take my camera, however; we’ll see if anything comes of that.

I’ll be riding with Brian and Nate, who will suffer from my being in the depths of another Phoenix Wright binge. (The newly released Justice for All, of course. I actually paid retail for it, which is something I never do.) I anticipate at least one cooperative attempt to solve a case during the car ride over… should be interesting, if not exactly efficient.

Right now, though, I have four hours to run errands, stop by work briefly, and pack. Eep.


For whatever reason, I’ve got the hankering to listen to You’re the One That I Want.

Yes. From Grease.

I’m pretty sure I could do without having the Grease soundtrack sitting on my shelf, though.

Maybe I should cough up 99 cents for iTunes’ DRM-laden version…?

Daytime TV! My only weakness!

I had my oil changed today, which gave me the misfortune of being exposed to ambient daytime TV noise. Lessons learned?

From Divorce Court: don’t procreate just because you can. Also, neither age nor having sex makes you an adult. ::duh kanji::

From Judge Christine: In this show, Judge Christine takes the law… into her own heart. ::gag kanji::

[I refuse to see if these shows have associated web sites.]

[Re: ::blah kanji::: The online chat feature of Ridge Racer 7 allows you to use various small pictures in your messages—not just emoticons, but also things like a party popper, a thumbs-up sign, and a toilet (?). Failing to come up with a better descriptor of these pictures, Brian and I—following Andy’s lead—broadened our use of the term “kanji” to mean (roughly) any picture used for the purpose of communication. In Ridge Racer we might use the ::thumbs up kanji:: or the ::toilet kanji::; in practice we’ll pretty much slap “kanji” after anything we’d prefer understood as a pictograph.]

[[If you want to be pedantic, you might argue that “pictograph” is that better term for this concept. I would then argue that pictograph fails to be as entertaining in use as kanji—and that, personally, is a crucial test of betterness.]]

I’m a drift racer LOL

So I went to dance practice tonight—by far the best decision I’ve made all day*—which left me in the unfortunate position of being Not At Home when the water on the ground froze.

[*At dance practice I rated Janis’ attempt at improving her samba within the framework of a Guitar Hero score; this was arguably the second-best thing I did all day.]

I only used my antilock brakes once. There was only one low-speed drift, but Reiko would have been proud at how I performed. Which is to say: I drive better in real life than I do in Ridge Racer. [For those in-the-know: I would rate it a solid drift with a mild-type car, or a stellar drift with a normal-type one.]

The streets were littered with the debris of other racers who didn’t make the cut**. I did not join their ranks.

[**Really one fender-bender that took a car’s headlight out—but there were two officers on the scene!]

The sad thing is that both of my ice-related events happened at speeds of under five miles an hour. I made it up to fifteen in the thirty zone, but had no issues with the higher speed. Obvious lesson: drive fast on ice.

TV shows I watch

There was a long period of time—starting after The X-Files went downhill—where I’d barely watch TV. Maybe I’d stop and watch a random Law & Order or CSI with Dad, but there wasn’t anything that I’d actually make a point to watch.

Times have changed.

I don’t watch the umpteen hours that the average person watches, but I do have some favored shows:

First, House. Brilliant antisocial maverick doctor. I once overheard my coworkers discussing the show, commenting on how mean House had been. I prefer the term awesome.

Second, NCIS. Wisecracking investigators is a solid combination in my book, and I’m a fan of Mark Harmon’s Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

Third, 24. I only started watching last season (the fifth!), but it was easy to see why people got hooked. One of the reasons I enjoy anime is the opportunity that thirteen or twenty-six episodes provides to tell a coherent story—you just can’t do anything similar in a two-hour movie, and TV back in the day consisted almost entirely of sitcoms. 24 was one of the first shows to change that—I was just slow to notice.

Fourth, Heroes. Holy smokes. Hot damn. Wow. It’s got characters, story, direction, and just grabbed me from the season premiere and hasn’t let go. I have a soft spot for Hiro (he had me at the Keroro Gunsou bobblehead figure on his desk); Masi Oka has done a hell of a job making his Japanese goofball character lovable.

[What kind of role models do I have?]

Fifth, The Amazing Race. Phil Keoghan is an amiable host, and the editing of the race is top-notch. The show is at its best when it lets you see parts of the world you might not otherwise see; it’s at its worst when it plays on the teams’ various fears for the sake of drama. The sightseeing usually wins. Usually.

Other shows I watch, but wouldn’t cry about missing (unlike the above), include How I Met Your Mother (mostly for Neil Patrick Harris, but also Alyson Hannigan) and The Class (mostly to see how the concept of “eight elementary school classmates reunite” can be sustained an entire season). I enjoy watching Ugly Betty and/or My Name is Earl, but haven’t made a habit of ’em. I’d watch Jericho, but it airs on Wednesday nights during (gasp!) dance practice.

Yes, it’s true. I don’t actually watch E!, even though I claim it’s the most entertaining channel I get with basic cable.

I want you (as a hostage)

Per tradition, Marin gave me a couple new manga titles as part of my Christmas present. The unequivocal winner of this round of manga was Hayate the Combat Butler. Hayate does for comedy manga what Scream did for horror movies—but has the advantage of comedy being a much more endearing genre. But, to get the most out of it (much as with Scream), you ought to be a fan of the genre before reading; why should you find poking fun at nekomimi hilarious if you’re not already familiar with the concept?

Sometimes there’s something a particular manga-ka does that I really like/note, for some reason. Ken Akamatsu (Love Hina) draws pretty gals. Wataru Yoshizumi (Marmalade Boy) draws gorgeous eyes. And Kenjiro Hata (Hayate) nails facial expressions. There’s no need for the classic “throbbing vein” when you can convey annoyance in the arch of an eyebrow.

In MacWorld AppleWorld news, uh… AppleTV and the iPhone (surprisingly named as such). Wow. I have to wonder about the 40GB hard drive of the AppleTV—that seems a bit small for more than a few movies. And, while the iPhone looks sweet… I just don’t use a cell phone enough to justify a two-year contract, let alone the price of the device itself.

I wish I lived in Apple’s world, though, where going online from your cell phone is an easy task that doesn’t nickel-and-dime you per kilobyte. Maybe in a few years.

Most notable, though, was the absence of the Macintosh from the MacWorld keynote. As if to underline that, Apple officially dropped Computer from its name. Apple, Inc. Hrm.

What are the haps my friends

Typhoid Eric came and spent a few nights at my place in the middle of last week. I now have a cough, faucet-nose, and a temperature (collectively known as The Death). I’m blaming him.

Yesterday I pretty much drooled on myself and played Ridge Racer.

Today was a bit better: I got my garbage out, cleared out (and refilled) my dishwasher, and went in to work only to discover that they were shutting the computers down early for maintenance. And then I drooled on myself some more.

Tomorrow’s MacWorld keynote by Steve Jobs looks to be a (relatively) monumental one; John Gruber’s predictions seem as reasonable as any I’ve seen—and even the Wall Street Journal has gone on record saying that Apple will release some sort of cell phone tomorrow.

Too bad I’ve already bought more minutes for my T-Mobile pay-as-you-go phone. (I don’t talk enough to justify a real cell phone bill.) Since the word on the street is that Cingular will be Apple’s partner, I looked at their plans this evening… and their pay-as-you-go plan doesn’t look terrible, either—provided that you’ll mostly be talking to other people on their cell phone (i.e. not a land-line). Hrm.

Much of my time, recently, has been spent dealing with the ramifications of a realization that’s been growing stronger over the last couple months: renting is for chumps. (Okay, that’s going too far. But.) Plusses: lower monthly amount; flexibility with respect to moving in the future. Minuses: that’s all you’re getting—shelter for a month at a time. Once that month’s up, you have nothing but the fact that you were dry for that one month.

The one bit of advice I remember from Dr. Moulton, a finance professor I took a few classes form back in the day, was to buy a house as soon as you could afford one. The advice struck me as somewhat odd at the time—I’m what you might call debt-adverse. But I now see the side I was missing, back then: the idea of getting something enduring for your money. Renting fails; house plus mortgage does not.

The real problem is: can I afford it? (Answer: certainly not without renting, ostensibly to my sister.) Also: is there any place that would work that is available? The jury’s still out… though I do have a good bit of life on my current lease.

2006 Retrospective, abridged

I coasted through the year. While I did move out of my parent’s house, the truth of the matter is that it didn’t change things much—I just have a few more things I have to take care of, personally. Most disruptive, actually, was having to move my stuff and rearrange it in a new location. That took a while.

But, yeah. Coasting. Year of rest. It worked for 2006, but it’s not a terribly good option for 2007. This is a year to get on the ball and make things happen.

At least, I hope it is.

For my first act of the new year…

I betrayed my friends! Mwa ha ha ha!

I was supposed to head up to Portland for New Year’s. Lots of people going to be there. Big party.

Problem was, I’m not a big-party sort of person. It’s not that I don’t have any fun in big parties—I just don’t have a whole lot of fun. I get a heck of a lot more enjoyment from various next-day activities that are generally limited to the people who I really know. Also, the party was being hosted by people I’m not terribly familiar/comfortable with (arguably because I’ve not attended parties hosted by them).

Also, I was invited to this other in-town party—consisting of some friends from dance—that was much smaller. The proposed agenda consisted of board games, movies, and fireworks at midnight. Things much more my speed, in other words.

And I did have a good time. We played Apples to Apples, lit fireworks, and watched Death to Smoochy. Janis, her housemate (whose name I’ve already forgotten, in a classic Brent move), and I were in the running for biggest Apples to Apples loser for most of the game, until I pulled out a single victory near the end to pull ahead. Other people were cleaning house so bad it hurt.

I’m sad to say that I never pulled out a kick-ass play during the game. My glory move remains having played General George S. Patton for the adjective feminine—and winning.

Earlier in the evening I was playing a game of Snowcraft. The point of the game is to have your team win snowball fights—thing is, the first time you knock a kid down he’ll eventually get back up. Marin saw me at the end of a fight, where I just knocked down my last opponent for the first time. In a moment of weakness I actually spoke to the kid who I had just knocked down. Or, rather, I snarled at him: get up! (I finished him off immediately once he recovered, of course.) Marin died from laughing at me for that.

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