December 29, 2014

Recommendations from 2014

Was it really that bad a year?

I generally take that sort of thing with a grain of salt. Steven hates recommendations and thus I don't expect him to give many either; he's perfectly capable of watching a show and enjoying it but not to the point where he'd point it out to anyone else either.

At the same time, was the year really that bad? There are plenty of shows I'd recommend with certain provisos...

  • World Conquest Zvezda Plot was great, hilarious fun, far better than I expected going in. Proviso - underdressed loli.
  • No Game No Life has that same proviso squared - more than one loli, underdressed much more often, and with sexual humor involving same (not quite creepy but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who didn't already have a callus built up for that). On the other hand, it had some genuinely clever writing - the shiritori episode was fantastic. Also quite nicely animated too.
  • Encouragement of Climb. Mediocre first season of very short episodes. Follow-up two cours with half-length episodes, much stronger. Cute as a button without getting as saccharine as, say, Is the Order a Rabbit could get. Plus I like mountains to begin with... Only real negative is that it's not really a deep show; girls go climb mountains and, well, that's what happens.
  • Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun - shoujo trope comedy. If you're interested in that sort of thing, it's just great.
  • I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Thinking - best 3-minute show out there. "Got more character development than most shows do in an entire season," someone mentioned on reddit, and that comment hit dead-on. This could have really easily turned into the same ol' same ol' of otaku jokes every week, but they did a great job of leavening it with interesting characters.

There were other things which I personally enjoyed but which I don't know that I'd recommend to anyone. Nanatsu no Taizai is/was plenty of fun. Inou Battle started off as a basic trope subversion, subverted the subversion, then subverted the subverting, though all within the context of a harem comedy, so that kind of limits the praise you can give it, y'know? Fate is Fate, absolutely quality, but it doesn't "feel" new given that it's not exactly the first bite at that apple. I liked Invaders, Locodol, Hozuki no Reitetsu, and of course there's stuff like Kill la Kill and Log Horizon that you don't need me to recommend or not recommend at this point... Silver Spoon and Strike the Blood were pretty good too for completely different reasons.

I don't know that any of these shows would make my "very favorite of all time" list, to be sure. But a few are close enough for an honorable mention. Don't think it was a particularly bad year for anime, honestly - few outstanding shows but enough moderately entertaining ones.

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December 28, 2014

Girls Und Thunder

Was in a GuP mood, so I decided to install the following:

That anglerfish is as good as an extra 50mm of armor plate, evidently. Immediately took it out for a spin and had an absolutely monstrous round, 8 kills, 2 assists, no losses. Took a bit of damage but nothing that kept me from scooting back and fixing it up. At least one T-34 and two SU-122s in that score total! (Pretty sure the SU-122s took some pretty severe damage from my initial shot, a shell from one of those would open up a Panzer IVF like a ration tin.)

Unfortunately other people can't see your custom skin. Fortunately you can't see theirs, though...

The game's been doing a Christmas/New Year's bonus. Normally every day the first win you get from each nation gives you a double bonus... but during the event, it's a 5x bonus. ("Win" so you probably have a good score instead of a multiplier on a crappy score...) At any rate, I've been unlocking stuff like mad.

-US tanks: M2, M3 Stuart, M3A1 Stuart, M3 Lee, M4A1 Sherman, M5A1 Stuart
-US planes: P36, P38G, P400, P40E-1, F4F, F6F-3, F4U-1a, SBD Dauntless, A-20
-German tanks: Whoa nelly.  Pz 38(t) A and F. Pz III E, F, J, J1, L, M. Pz IV C, E, F1, F2. StuG III A, F. Marder III. Couple of AA guns.
-Russkie tanks: BT-7. T-28, T-50, T-34 ('40, '41, and '42). KV1-L11. SU-76M and SU-122.
-British planes: Hurricane Mk I, IIB. Spitfire Mk1a. Blenheim.
-Japanese planes: A6M2-N, A6M2. Ki-43-I. Ki-61 (both).

Been playing tanks on the teams with tanks, but I've unlocked everything I can on the US tanks so far (more advanced tanks are locked unless you are in the "beta test", on the live server, which they're charging for. No thanks, I don't want to pay to beta test...) Had some serious luck with the US planes lately, either the .50s are doing better or I'm better with them...

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December 09, 2014

Sometimes it all just comes together

Sometimes everything just clicks in a game...

Duck, you got me hooked...

War Thunder uses a "battle rank" system to try to make a game that can include late-30s biplanes and the F-86 without putting the one up against the other. Your vehicles get weighted so that you're only up against stuff from within a certain range away from your best vehicle.

Unfortunately, this means that several vehicles are... disadvantaged by the game system. Not because they're BAD exactly, but because their score is sufficiently high that you are suddenly eligible to fight something from another country which is more than a match for you. (This combines with the normal balance problems you get in an online game, plus the Russian developer's tendency to make the Russian stuff quite good.) So while I've unlocked the StuG IIIA, which is a nice piece of kit if you aren't married to the idea of a turret on your tank, it's... a big jump over the rest of your tier I stuff in battle rank, meaning suddenly you're seeing T34s on the other side of the line.

So basically you take out your shiny new tank and it gets perforated in short order, and your reinforcements are armed with popguns and armored with paper... not exactly an ideal circumstance.

Setting up a good team isn't a matter of taking the best things in your available arsenal, but instead getting enough in the same kind of range that you can play an enjoyable round even after losing one, without having any of them so high that you're suddenly trying to punch over your weight class.

(It can be done. When flying my US planes tonight, I got an award for taking out a plane two ranks higher than mine - sometimes you just need some 50 cals in the right place and time. But usually it's the other way around, right?)

The tier 1 German tanks are actually pretty fun to play, ignoring the StuG (which ranks you up into the hurt-me zone) and the basic Panzer II C (20mm main armament... what are you, British?) The Flakpanzer is especially fun, since you get decent penetration against other tier 1 vehicles, you've got good range, and you're using an automatic weapon versus their single-shots. Of course your gunner isn't armored (at all) and if the game were modeling machineguns as well, taking that thing to the front line would be crazy... but it doesn't (yet) and so it's basically a slow-ish glass autocannon. Always fun to see someone shoot you in the gun shield, their armor-piercing shell going completely through it and finding nothing on the other side but air, while you pekka-pekka-pekka away until a shot goes in his vision slit or turret ring and he brews up.

I figure I'll make the jump to the tier II stuff when I can field a decent setup...

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November 27, 2014

Need a vacation from my vacation


My folks came over for a week and a bit, and I burned the vacation time that had been building up all year. Always good to see them (neither of them are getting any younger, nor me for that matter) and we got out and did some good stuff. Dad hauled in a nice-sized mahi mahi and I discovered that I'm susceptible to sea sickness in moderate chop. We didn't hit the luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center (my folks aren't really into luau since we did one in Maui years ago), but other than that, we made it all the way down the list of "stuff they wanted to do". Aunt Susan also came and had a good time as well.

That said, I'm kind of glad to have the place back to myself (especially the bed... been camping out in my office for a few days and my back has been lodging protests the whole time.)

Dad and I visited the Pacific Air Museum (and the Missouri) and I managed to find a copy of Shattered Sword at the gift shop. After years of Wonderduck's effusive gushing about the book, I couldn't pass that up, could I? And indeed, opening it up and reading it is a joy. It's kind of the literary equivalent of the taste of umami, like a really good steak or a Neal Stephenson novel, where you want to tuck in your napkin and just gorge. As indeed I shall!

Anime watching was more or less on hold for the week, so I've got a backlog to work through and a weekend to work with. Did manage to get some gaming in. Enjoyed the first few songs of Project Diva F2, until Mom reminded me that resistance to the more armor-piercing aspects of Japanese idol singing is an acquired trait which my visitors lacked; I'll get some more of that done tonight. Also played a good bit of Far Cry 4, which is a little better than 3 (fewer annoyances, some extra clever bits, mortars to play with, and didn't screw up any of the basic systems) but not precisely deep; beer and pretzels shooter. I do prefer the Himalayas as a backdrop, I think, though partly because if I want tropical island, I'll -go outside-.

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November 16, 2014

The Diabeetus

So, a couple of weeks ago, I went to the doctor and he told me that the results of my blood test indicated that I had diabetes. Not a nasty case, just Type II, pretty much the minimum where the doctors nod and say "yup, that's actually diabetes" instead of "yeah, that's close to diabetes". Immediately I got prescriptions for a glucose testing kit and metformin, the basic let's-see-if-this-works anti-insulin-resistance drug. I also made a few lifestyle changes (which is a nice way of saying "reduce carb intake, get back to the gym").

Looks like it's effective. My blood sugar dropped, within a couple of days, right into the "ideal" zone and stayed there (though of course it's likely that part of that is because I'm not giving it a whole lot of carbs to work with, heh.) In fact, sticking to the "recommended" amount of carbs per meal leaves me with post-meal numbers which are in the ideal range for fasting, so I'm probably overdoing it a little... Feeling pretty good, though. And in the intervening two weeks, I've also dropped 15 pounds.

Downside is, this isn't one of those things where you deal with it for a few weeks and then it goes away. I'll pretty much need to stay off the grain train for a while, at least assuming I don't continue to lose a pound a day for a while. Tricky that, in the land of "every meal comes with two scoops rice and one scoop mac"...

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October 24, 2014

Sid Meier steals my sleep once again

Beyond Earth... interesting concepts here.

In a lot of ways it's Civ 5 with a new skin on it. Cities make food/money/science and grow semiorganically in an interesting manner (though you tend to get these weird shapes as the city AI prioritizes resources over everything else... which is exactly what it should be doing from a gameplay perspective, to be sure, but your cities end up looking like Congressional districts after a particularly bad gerrymander). The trade system is straight out of Civ 5. There's even minor powers, in a game where that doesn't particularly make a whole lot of sense thematically, though they've been toned down from "one city civilizations" to "send your trade guys here for teh bonus!"

The biggest difference is in the technology and development of your civilization. In all the previous Civ games, everyone was on the same development arc, and you basically had to pick up all but a handful of the technologies somewhere along the line. BE has a "web" with branch-and-leaf techs (basically, you move along the web to "branch" techs, then you can pick up "leaves" that you're interested in from that branch). You are NOT going to get all the techs, not even remotely; even all of the branches is unlikely. Many of the techs are... unimpressive in their effect, giving you a building or two, possibly not all of which you can use, because of...

...the affinity system. Hoh, now we're getting somewhere. Basically this forms the "theme" of your civ's development. Are you concentrating on Harmony with the weirdness of the new planet? Or Purity of the original human form and terraforming? Or Supremacy by saying "screw you biologicals, uploading your brain is where it's at?" Or just a big pick and mix? This ends up having a few different effects on your game. Picking anything and working on it gives you a few direct bonuses, so it can be worth going a bit into all three of the trees. But the game also upgrades your military units, and the further into a tree you go, the bigger the bonuses available, so specializing REALLY helps. (This also prevents the game having to have fifty basic military units - you've got one basic soldier which can be at a dozen or so different upgrade stages, and the game upgrades your whole army automatically.) There are also certain buildings and units which are only available to civs that have reached a certain level of affinity, even if you have the prerequisite tech, culminating in a unique victory condition for each.

These two systems feed into each other big-time. While there are the occasional boosts to your affinities via "virtues" (social policies from old Civs) and quests, the biggest way you can directly manipulate your affinities is by researching the appropriate technologies. So sometimes you'll research a tech that you're not particularly interested in, just for the affinity bonus learning it will give you, because THAT will push you over the upgrade level for one of your units and suddenly your Marines are running around with more combat power than the enemy's armor.

The last big difference is that you generally get a "choice" quest when you do things like build a new building for the first time, and you get to pick an upgrade to it ("do you want this building to produce an extra culture, or an extra food?") Sometimes these choices are pretty trivial, sometimes they're hugely important ("why yes, I would like an extra spy for every one of these things that I build!")

All of these things come together for replayability. Different choices mean you've got a different game, much more so than the usual "rush to certain useful techs before everyone else" of older Civ games. We'll have to see how that works in practice, but it sure feels fresh at first blush.

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October 07, 2014

Fall season

After being massively down for the count with some food poisoning, I'm back among the living and caught up on the new stuff. Some first impressions:

-Terraformars: Tons of what is presumably blood, so heavily censored that it's actually quite difficult to tell what's actually going on. Story so far is achingly stupid. Two episodes was one too many, and I'm done.

-Denki-Gai: Ensemble comedy about running a manga/doujin shop in Akiba. Cute time-waster, though the Sommelier of Eros was worth a few chuckles. Could fall into the groove of "let's make a million jokes about girls selling porn" real fast; let's see if it can avoid that.

-Cross Ange: whoa, bit creepy there! Am I down with girls in revealing flight suits operating transforming mecha against dragons? Yes, of course. But even the first episode goes right for the squick zone for what I would hope are most viewers; I did not need lesbian prison rape in the bargain here. Stayin' away unless I hear from some other intrepid and possibly-disturbed soul that it was an aberration and not the general tone of the show.

-Orenchi no Furo Jiro: Guy and guy mermaid, and yeah, I'm not the target demographic for this show. First ep was worth a bit of a chuckle but not much more than that.

-Celestial Method: Cute, not very deep, feels like Anohana without the tragic event (don't blame me if it turns out there was one, 'kay?) Enjoyed it so far.

-When Supernatural Battles Become Commonplace: Definitely got some laughs out of me with this one. Easy premise, good comedy, fun cast, shows some promise. Definitely a keeper.

-Log Horizon 2: ouch, ouch, ouch. I loved the hell out of the first series, easily the best thing in the genre. First episode of the new season looked like it had been beaten with a -bat-. The animation quality was... I'd say "poor" and "off-model" but I don't think it's so much that, as just a much lower standard from a different animation company. I'm usually pretty forgiving on that front but the drop was enough that it genuinely made it difficult for me to enjoy the show. The one bright spot is that Akatsuki's model looks exactly the same as it ever did, at least showing that the animators knew what was most important (even if they dropped the ball on -every other damn thing-...) Frankly, I don't know if I'll keep going with it if they don't shake some budget out of the couch cushions, 'cause as it is, it's a travesty.

-Gugure! Kokkuri-san: Had no expectations going in to this and was pleasantly surprised. Weird semi-supernatural comedy that seems to work. The odd couple dynamic won't be enough to carry the show on its own, it's going to live or die on the secondary characters, but so far there aren't any... who knows how it'll end up.

-World Trigger: Kinda generic modern-SF flavor teen superhero setup. Signs point to "okay" but I'm skeptical that it's going to do anything with it.

-Fate/stay UBW: If you do not already know that Rin is Win, well, here we go. A double-length Rin-centric episode to kick things off, and this is "her" route, though really you could call it the Fate/stay "good end" (not that it's all good, we're still talking some pretty murderous stuff.) I don't know that the series was needed given that they just did the movie, but what the hell, I'll take a good story with plenty of Rin any time.

-I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying: Thin premise but it's a three-minute show. I laughed, it was worth the three minutes. Doesn't have to try very hard to hit that bar; might be worth saving for a few weeks to try a big dose at once.

-Wolf Girl and Black Prince: Shoujo setup to pair off a girl who tends to brag ahead of her experience with a good-looking guy with a not-very-hidden sadistic streak. Playful abuse of heroine incoming. (Hopefully just that, anyway, there's enough bondage references and collar imagery that we shouldn't take that for granted...) I enjoy a good shoujo-oriented show from time to time but so far this one is pretty mean-spirited.

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August 14, 2014

I found it... seven years later

Don't quite know what caused me to go looking for this pic again. But this time Google Image Search found it (and about half a dozen pics from the last post I did on the topic, in 2007).

After a half dozen mecha-musume shows, I have no idea why this pic stuck with me. I hadn't seen it in a decade.

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July 25, 2014

Hot summer and its shows

The good news is that it's not TOO hot. The air conditioning can keep up (barely) and it's about as hot as it's going to get, so I'm not gonna roast myself working from home. This is quite a good thing.

The electric bill was pretty high though... and I've been watching anime to run it up further. Quick takes for the new stuff:

Locodol: Very low-pressure idol anime, even less so than Love Live. Don't come for the music (it's pretty much limited to children's songs so far), but it's cute enough to keep a slot for the time being. A little suggestive without getting in your face with it.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Ilya 2: way, way too suggestive. I mean, god, I watched a ton of Nanoha and this show can still creep me the hell out from time to time. Dunno if it'll hold my interest (or rather, if it dips even a little further into loli-exposure, I'm just done with it). Cute as hell when the creep mode isn't running high, which ain't often enough.

Samurai Jam-Bakumatsu Rock: Watching this one on a recommendation, and I'm obviously not the target demographic for this show (hey, finally, guys with exploding-clothing transformations...) Interesting take on the somewhat-overdone Meiji transformation and not bad in the music department, though obviously they're pushing the hot-bishounen-band angle. We're up for a few episodes of filler early, I figure, but it's all right (and, frankly, a good palate cleanser for Prisma Ilya).

Hanayamata: The other cute-girls-doing-cute-stuff of the season. I have NO IDEA what yosakoi is, never even heard of it, but eh, dancing cute girls is not a bad thing, and when the show pulls out the stops it's awful pretty. Pretty generic sports plot so far, not really strong there. We'll see where it goes.

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun: Another one I picked up on a recommendation. Funny if you like shoujo-trope jokes subverted. Good for now but feels like it might get stuck in a rut if they're not careful.

Sabagaebu: Damn. Ep 2 was terrible - somehow the characters were even less pleasant than the worst parts of C3, and that's a big non-recommendation. Ep 3 didn't have that nasty feeling to it, though. Much less "this is an introduction to a sport you've never heard about" and more "this is a pure comedy where they happen to have guns", narrator breaking fourth wall, impromptu flamethrowers, etc. But ugh, that second episode. Now I really don't want to try natto.

Rail Wars: Harmless police fun with a railway theme, though forget suspending disbelief, you should just expel it before showing up for class. Mildly pervy shounen action plus train-otaku fuel. Decent production values though.

Sword Art Online II: Not bad so far, though if you were a big Asuna fan, it's definitely telegraphing that she's gonna be in the background for this one. New character Sinon is actually pretty well-done, an interesting take on things that leaves lots of room for development and at least a suggestion that they'll go that way. I still don't like it as much as Log Horizon, but the stupid level is toned down enough to pass.

Invaders of the 6-Mat: probably will be the first drop of the season. Magical harem show, though at least so far it's more "magical everyone sitting around playing cards to try to evict the others". When even your characters say your premise is boring it may be time to move on. That said, the next ep is doing something different, but if it's not a lot more interesting than it's been so far, it ain't worth the time.

Jojo's: still Jojoing. Still not as good as the first two arcs. Screw the villain of the week, bring on the WRYYYYY already.

And... Sailor Moon Crystal: which I tried because I was pretty drunk, and actually enjoyed well enough to give it a few episodes. Looks like it'll move at a faster pace than the original show. Production quality is... not precisely "good", but more "retro" than "no budget". Never really had a good reason for disliking the original other than irrational prejudice, but eh... still not really sold on it.

Lots of shows, nothing that's on the OH YES list really, but plenty of "good enough to fill time" so far. Still a few that I'll probably save for mid-season after the weak ones drop off.

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July 12, 2014

Last season, post-mortem

Didn't watch that many shows through.

Is the Order a Rabbit?: Too cutesy at times, but not quite enough to keep me from watching to the end. Rize was the best thing about the series, and possibly "the only good thing".

Jojo: Working on a bunch of shows, this was always one of the things that got referenced all the time but which I never really had a good handle on. The first two seasons were a gateway into a past, more fabulous era, where barely-clad musclemen named after rock bands could pose up a storm and still be manly as heck. The new season is... not a fit successor. Jotaro is sullen and basically coasting through the Bad Guy of the Week, and Polnareff is so annoying I keep cheering for the bad guys to finish him off, but they never quite manage it. The only bright point of the show is Joseph Joestar, who's aged into a comic Indy Jones type - definitely carrying the show so far. Still, eventually they'll get to Egypt and we'll get to see some Dio, at which point I'm hoping things will become appropriately epic. Ongoing.

Love Live! School Idol Project - got into this late through playing the game, which a number of friends are into, and am through most of the first season so far. Enjoyable if you like the idol genre but don't want to go full Idolmaster or AKB48. Working on this as time and ork-painting permit.

Mekakucity Actors: I watched the first ep of this because of not-Miku, and it was all right, but somehow I never got around to watching any more of it and I'm not really inclined to get further into it. Did anyone find it to be any good?

Nisekoi: I picked up some of the manga for this to read on the plane trip here and enjoy the manga; the anime is decent but I haven't really been following it regularly. Think I might prefer the manga, honestly.

No Game No Life: Far better than I was expecting, though I was expecting it to suck pretty badly. Has the usual "these characters are geniuses so of course they know everything and can do everything" trope in play, but for all their mutual NEETness and Shiro's residual creepiness, it's actually quite a clever show. Plenty of T&A (and, alas, lack-of-T&A) for those interested in that. Definitely one of the hidden gems of the season just for the cleverness of the puzzle-challenges, though. In particular, the world-shattering game of shiritori was just pure happiness to watch.

Nobunaga the Fool: Watched the first six eps or so, dropped it, didn't go back. Not necessarily ruling it out, but I got better stuff to spend time on.

Rowdy Sumo Who Cares: Gawd, this show was terrible. Gave it a chance because hey, why not a sumo sports anime? And it's been a while since my last Taisho-era story... But the lead is so repellent, such a tremendous asshole, that I don't even want to see his comeuppance and redemption. I'd rather he die via meteor strike, or even better, Ebola virus.

Comic Artist and Assistants: I'm torn on this one, because in one sense, it was quite, quite terrible - a pure fanservice exploitation show with a protagonist that's by turns sniveling and lecherous, or sometimes both. But at the same time, I saw the manga a while back and the cat Branya is one of the cutest things on this planet. Girls are cute too, but then again, they had to be, else I would have gone far, far away. I got a little enjoyment out of it but I can't recommend it to the self-respecting.

Kawai Complex: A fun main romance plot buried under a steaming pile of cliched secondary characters. By the time I had gotten to the end of this, for the meager payoff on offer, I'd slogged through episode after episode of masochist jokes, virgin jokes, slut jokes, evil-woman jokes, more masochist jokes, more virgin jokes, more slut jokes, more evil-woman jokes... they went on and on and there just wasn't any cleverness or variety there. Frankly it's a miracle I didn't drop this and I darned well ought to have. I blame my susceptibility to cute girls who like books.

Magica Wars: Watched three eps when I had a bit of spare time. Not totally wasted but not really anything there to make me want to dig in for more.

I also watched some Puchimas. They're like eating potato chips, it's hard to stop at just one. Not really something to recommend though - either you know Idolmaster and already tried it or you don't and probably shouldn't.

Other stuff I heard was good, but haven't tried yet: Chaika.

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June 06, 2014

Love Live and orks

Dropped the time-waster tablet card game I'd been playing (Valkyrie Crusade, if you're curious, and it wasn't really much good) and tried out Love Live, as some friends had gotten into that. And... I'm enjoying it, honestly.

It's a pretty basic rhythm game with your performance being somewhat dependent on how good you are at tapping the screen in the correct locations at the correct intervals, but really also on how good your group is; a beginner group and a flawless performance might only score you a C rank on an easy song, whereas I can take a group I've put together (with no money spent, after a week) and do only so-so and still score an A or an S on a normal-difficulty song. I could see this as massively frustrating to a true aficionado of the genre. For me, with my getting-older-these-days reflexes, it's actually a bit liberating - I can genuinely enjoy the challenge without a run where I make a mistake immediately turning into a waste of time.

Advancement is the usual "here are a ton of crap-quality cards, which are mostly useless except as food for the good-quality cards", plus the usual "pay us real monies for extra chances to draw good cards". The other monetization model is "here is your energy, you've used it up, pay to refill the gauge right now or come back in a few hours", but going through the songs takes enough time that by the time I'm out, I'm ready to put it down for a bit and do something else.

Cute girls on the cards doesn't hurt none either.

Tried the first episode of the anime and it's cute enough. Enjoyed Idolmaster well enough but haven't tried AKB...

A couple of friends have been playing the Japanese game for ages, and they just came out with the English version last month, so it's pretty new here. Not particularly deep though - if you don't enjoy the rhythm portion of the game then nothing else is going to make you stick around. It'll be interesting to see what they do with it. The Japanese version has umpteen kinds of different magazine tie-ins and events, but obviously the merchandising opportunities aren't going to exist over here...

And orks? Finally, they're getting some new kits, so it's off to the game store. Any time you have a gatling gun made out of more gatling guns, you have the right idea!

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May 05, 2014

Moving on: Mo' bettah

Got out Sunday to see the Missouri. Quite a lady!


  • Air conditioned spaces below deck!
  • The teak deck is pretty interesting. They don't do it the same way that they did originally, mostly because there's no army of navy enlisted men to holy-stone the thing all day, but they had some interesting exhibits on the original construction, the replacement methods they used in the '80s, and the modern construction. It is still teak, though... just with a surfacer under it to keep it level.
  • The Tomahawk installation is still in place. Four quad-cell launchers. Pretty clearly not part of the original armament, and I sure wouldn't want to be standing around one of 'em when it was fired (not that, you know, the 16-inch guns would be less of an issue!)
  • I hadn't appreciated just how thick some of that armor was. The turret magazine plating runs to 17", and even the con is in a massive armored shell. Guess you don't want your steering to take a hit if you can avoid it.
  • I also hadn't appreciated just how darned pack in living conditions on ship really are. There just isn't that much space on the racks and they stack 'em in close. And if you consider how much the ship can wallow in the waves... wonder how often people on the top bunk fell out?


  • The really neat stuff (by which I mean the engines and turbines, and the interior of the gun turrets) are restricted to the special two-hour pay-double tour, which I arrived too late in the day for.
  • Not everything is really set up well as an exhibit. They could do a lot more for fire control, which is full of mostly-unlabled, mostly-incomprehensible consoles.
  • The place is a real warren - it was kind of difficult to figure out which stairways, etc. were open for use to get to certain parts of the ship. This was exacerbated by...
  • Lots of construction. I can't really be annoyed by this - these things take a lot of maintenance even when they've got a full crew aboard, much less sitting on the dock with a few tour guides all day.
  • Pricey. At $25 for the visit, it wasn't a cheap date. Makes going back for the $50 go-see-everything tour a little questionable too.

One of my friends had wanted to go to see the Pacific Aviation Museum, but he was busy with hockey playoff games, so I figured we could both go later on. Another pricey one, but hey, sounds like fun...

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April 24, 2014

Moving on, moving in

Finished moving, and comfortably ensconced in the new apartment. Working in air-conditioned comfort is no bad thing... I'm actually quite a bit more comfortable here than I was in the house before. Still busy spreading out, changing addresses, and getting back into a routine. Did discover that the internet service is very much up to the task of streaming Fairy Tail to the big-screen TV in the living room...

Ought to be all right in the hobby department. Plenty of room for a painting table, and I also picked up Elder Scrolls Online - not revolutionary but plenty fine to waste some time.

I figure I'll head out this weekend to the Big Mo, and I've also been informed that the aviation museum nearby is not to be missed.

Getting used to my own cooking again is going to be interesting. I can't really afford to go back to my old habits of eating out every meal - not only is the rent high here, the food bill is out of this world. Went to the grocery store and dropped the kind of money that would normally constitute a car payment (granted that there was a bottle of Tito's in there... and why the heck is the BOOZE the same price as it is on the mainland? Shipping just that much less of the cost?)

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April 17, 2014

Moving on, step one

I've managed to pick up a new apartment out here. Not cheap, but not too bad, truth be told. Unfortunately it'll be a few days before I can get fully moved in. (Remoting in to work for a living means that internet isn't really optional anymore; gotta wait for the local Time Warner outfit to get out here and hook it up.) At the least, I can get the rest of my stuff moved and ready, so that's good.

Still need to pick up a bunch of household stuff, but that's not a big deal really.

Of course, the real question is, what the heck do I do from here? I certainly don't mind the opportunity to get out on the weekends, and I've already done a little hiking, but I ought to find other things to do with my time, right? (more like, if I'm going to stay in and watch anime all the time, there's plenty of places where I can do that with lower rent...)

At the same time, it ain't like I'm thinking of taking up surfing. Might spend a bit of time at the beach though.

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April 06, 2014

On the worst case scenario list

I broke up with my fiancee a few days ago. (On the first, to be specific... didn't want to post on that day for the obvious reason.)

Communication issues - neither of us did a good job of finding out what it was the other wanted out of the relationship. Fault on both sides, and while it's awkward, we're not angry. Just wasn't going to work out long-term.

I'm still here (by which I mean, living at her house) in the meantime, though naturally that's not the long-term plan anymore. Thinking of finding a place locally and taking a year, basically making a nice long-term vacation out of it.

Obviously not really happy with the situation, but eh, them's the risks, better to have loved and lost, all that jazz. Pretty cold comfort but I'll take what I can get...

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February 05, 2014

Hawaii is really different: PV Power

It's a truism that current photovoltaics aren't quite cost-effective at current power prices. You can get systems that show a break-even in a decade plus, but that's highly dependent on the mean time between failures estimates being accurate to that kind of time span; if they're even a little short, you pay more for the panels than you save on the juice.

But that's only the case if you're paying US prevailing power prices. Electricity is a lot more expensive here, for a whole slew of factors some of which are thanks to the gummint, as usual. Which means... that PV power pays off a lot faster, because the panels aren't more expensive here (and the installation ain't that much more either).

This means there are a lot of panels on rooftops around here. Enough, actually, that the utility had real problems with entire neighborhoods which had negative power consumption during daylight hours. (Not just one or two - apparently it's something like 100 of the 451 stations on the grid.)

This led to a really stupid result - the government actually mandated a limit on the number of houses on each block which would be allowed to have a PV installation. It looks like the utility has finally gotten its head out of its rear and is signing on to allowing additional installations so long as the proper gear is in place to prevent a voltage spike of incoming power from blowing out a substation transformer not built to deal with power running the other way. Fortunately, we've already got our panels installed...

Apparently "the government has enacted a really dumb regulation" is not uncommon here. They have a ban on sparklers...

That said, they did give me credit for having my car registered in Texas - I only had to pay the modest plate fee to get registered here until my renewal period in June. At which point it becomes $300/year... oy!

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December 30, 2013

Setting up the new office

So one of the side effects from working from home is needing a home office. This wasn't a particularly big deal back in Dallas because, hey, that's just wherever my computer was. It's a bit more complicated when you're sharing living space, especially already-set-up living space.

There's a room for it and the furniture aspect isn't a problem. However, we need to get data into that room, otherwise the "log in remotely" aspect won't go so well. Complicating matters, I also have an IP phone that I need to plug in - so while I could get the PC to just use wireless to connect, it's not that easy for the IP phone. Complicating matters still further, the intake router is across the entire house from the office.

It's POSSIBLE to route the computer's traffic through the phone so that I only need one connection, but I'd prefer to avoid that if I can.

So here are my options:

-Have someone come in and run wire through the ceiling to the office, and put in a secondary router in the office. (Theoretically I could put two wires in, one for IP phone and one for PC, but the intake router is short on ports to start with, so there's a new router purchase involved either way...) This is probably the best long-term method but is also the most restrictive if I end up moving stuff around.

-Run a cable along the ceiling into the office, into a secondary router in the office. Would result in a pretty long length of cat-5 running around the ceiling of three different rooms, plus we'd still have to drill it through the wall of the office if we ever want to be able to close that door. Easiest solution in the sense that it doesn't really require anything from a technical perspective, but also dead last from an aesthetics perspective.

-Look for a way to hook up both PC and IP phone wirelessly. What I suppose I would need is a router which would hook up to the wireless already in place (or, failing that, a transmitter and receiver router). This... sounds like something that has to be a solved problem somewhere, right? Is this something that your generic router with wireless is capable of doing if you change the configuration settings, or do I need to get dedicated hardware to make it work? Or is this in fact a dumb idea that I should ditch, and is it time to go buy a big spool of cat5 and get working on the ceiling mount?

(I'm not too worried about the performance end of the wireless - I'm pretty sure that any added lag would be more or less transparent for playing MMOs and the days when I played twitch shooters online are mostly over. But I would like reliability, if I'm going to be VPNing in to a company network for several hours a day...)

Anyone have any advice?

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December 28, 2013

Closing of the Texas chapter

Road trip is done, holidays have been celebrated with the family, which is a little bigger now - yesterday Rohan Kent was born, making me an uncle. (Probably the weird uncle... no real prospects of avoiding that at this late date!)

I'm sitting in the airport in Oakland,  heading for LAX and then Honolulu.  In pretty much every way, this is the best-case scenario.

I'm off to live in a tropical paradise with a beautiful woman whom I shall marry. I'll be working from home in normal hours while filling the evening shift at the office (not known for having hordes of experienced people wanting to fill it!) I get along well with the prospective mother-in-law, who is almost as much of an anime fanas her daughter.

This is just about a win condition for life, folks.

Should be in HI this evening, and just about every evening thereafter. 

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December 12, 2013

Another week in Texas

More to the point, the last one for a long while.

Moving out on the 20th. Am I all packed? Nope. I've got most of the fun stuff packed away, but I still have to pack up the display cabinets and the art. I've got plenty of old clothes to take to a charity drop-off (and some that are in no shape even for charity that will be given the heave-ho). I have a number of items of furniture that need to be divested, sold off, hauled away, or otherwise gotten rid of. The computer's not packed. The BACKUP computer isn't packed. The orks, though, are all packed.

I'll be road-tripping for a few days and then spending Christmas in San Fran with the folks, hopefully coinciding with the arrival of my first nephew, Rohan. (Ask my brother, not me...)

And so of course now is when the Starbound early access opens up. Go figure.

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October 14, 2013

Outbreak Company

Went into this with low expectations. Otaku brought in to flog otaku goods to a fantasy world? Cute maid and princess characters? Yeah, yeah, just another otaku validation show where the hero's utter lack of other redeeming traits is glossed over because he's a generic nice guy, which makes him the most desirable target for every female in the show...

And this show isn't particularly different from that. Shinichi's just a short step above a hikkikimori - he filled out a job application and went to an interview - but ridiculously out of his depth, thrown into the position of cultural ambassador by virtue of the Japanese government not trusting its own export-promotion planning (worth a chuckle but a fairly thin premise for the show).

And yet it's working, so far, mostly because it's not pulling any punches on the class issue - Shinichi is spending less time feeling up the maid and more trying to figure out how to sell manga to illiterate peasantry with no disposable income or free time. In a way it's a little cheap (Shinichi is a nice guy not because of generic inoffensiveness but because he's horrified by the concept of beating the servants and doesn't have racial prejudice against pointy-eared maids or lizardmen...)

But it also gives the show something to do besides devolve into the typical brew of romantic comedy misunderstandings, and there's the opportunity for some real reflection... to what extent do you have to share the values to enjoy the entertainments? Will they have to import their values along with their anime? (Or for that matter, is the whole thing a smokescreen for a resource-hungry Japan to finish preparations before it rolls in the tanks?)

I'll give the show two additional good points - it tackles the literacy problem head-on, and it's not afraid to spoof some recent stuff (that's Attack on Titan they're reading there...)

Could get good, could throw it all away with maid grab-ass and beach episodes, no telling which it'll actually do yet. Pleasantly surprised so far but mostly because I wasn't really expecting anything from it.

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