Thursday, August 28, 2008

Why it helps to be PREPARED for school

Today was my second day of school, and I kept feeling like I wasn't prepared for stuff. I ended up making my lunch this morning instead of last night, because I was waiting for my lunch bag to dry out (I had one of those "Cold Pak" things in it and it leaked water on my bag). I had meant to have my other two syllabi printed out, but they are saved heaven knows where.

I was also late to two classes due to lack of preparation. I got out a little early from my Bio class and at the time I realized I needed a notebook to write in cause Dr. Anover doesn't like you to use laptops in class (even though I saw a girl in front of me using one and the teacher didn't say anything, so...), so I went to the University Store (which, unlike the bookstore, sells apparel and stuff) to see if they had any notebooks but they didn't, so I had to go down to the bookstore and wait in this long line to buy ONE NOTEBOOK. Then I had to buy a pen too cause they have a $5 minimum for you to use your card. Then the girl tried to scan the pen multiple times and it didn't work. With this delay, I was five minutes late to French class after grabbing my bags from the bag check, running up a flight of stairs (or attempting to, rather -- I wore bad shoes for running in -- but since I had my laptop in addition to my backpack and lunchbag, I doubt I could've run fast anyways) and taking an elevator and then more stairs.

I was also late to my history class cause I went to the library to print these questions for Lit class, and when I went to add money to my print card I did it wrong so that took time to resolve. I made it less than five minutes into class, mainly cause I was closer to the hall my class is in than I was when I was going from the Bookstore to my French class in the same building. I would've had more time for that except that right after French class I went to Parking Services (whose building is close to Markstein Hall, where my French and History classes are) to get my bus pass and had to wait in line to get in cause they only had one cashier. Then, of course, it took time to get to the library from the outside tables of the University Commons, where I ate lunch.

In short, it is really easy to get yourself lost on this campus. The part by Chavez Circle I haven't even seen, as my classes are concentrated near Craven Circle (where the library is, as is the Commons, which is part of Craven Hall, which gives the circle its name), in Markstein, University, and Academic Halls respectively. Academic Hall, where my Lit class is located, is really annoying because it obviously has elevators (you have to have them for disabled people), but they are apparently very well hidden because I can never find them. It might have to do with the side from which I enter the building too, I suppose (I enter from the back side, since I'm coming from Markstein Hall - the back side of Academic Hall faces Palm Court, which is right in front of Markstein Hall). But so anyway, I have to go up three sets of stairs to get to my third-floor classroom. This is after two flights of stairs coming down into Palm Court.

One nice thing is that there are some nice common areas. The biggest are the two third-floor level plazas - Founders Plaza, where the University Store is located, and the plaza in front of the library, which I don't think has a name. Palm Court is also nice. It is surrounded on three sides by halls - University Hall on the right, Academic Hall on the left, and Markstein Hall right in front of it. It consists of a kind of walkway/square with benches on the sides and a bunch of palm trees that were donated by somebody. Then there are little shady places with trees and benches here and there; you can't miss them since they're pretty much the only shady outdoor spaces on campus. One is near the Tukwut Leadership Center, by the stairs that take you down to the bookstore. There's also another hidden by one of the big flights of steps.

I splurged and got a 3-subject notebook, since I know there are at least two classes I need a notebook for. I'll use the third section in case I need to write notes for my other classes and don't have my computer or something. It's also one of the "environotes" notebooks, so by buying it I'm being "green" or something. I think it has recycled paper or something like that.

For doing notes on my computer, I am using OneNote, since that's more or less what OneNote is for. It worked wonderfully for my Bio class, since I could copy and paste pictures from the teacher's powerpoint (which I also had open, having accessed it through WebCT, the program CSUSM uses for online classes and for sharing online content for regular classes) into my notes. Technically, they use Blackboard (as I noticed from the URL when I went to log in) but they rename it.

At least I survived the first week. It will get easier as time goes on.

I went to the Academic Advising Center again and ended up doing a walk-in talk with an adviser. Though walk-ins aren't really meant for what I thought I was supposed to be doing there (based on something said at Orientation), which was something about planning classes to take in regards to a career, the adviser did a good job of working with me anyway. She said if I took 15 units from here on out, I could still graduate in 2 years if I wanted. Since this just means 5 classes instead of 4, I might be able to make it work. I will probably have to take one of them online or something, since I can't really take a night class (no car). She said I could do summer classes too, but that there were only 2 of my classes that would most likely be offered in summer. I was also surprised to learn from her that Advanced Creative Writing is invitation-only (I guess cause it's a 500-level course), and consists of students from the Creative Writing Workshop course who are deemed invitable. Since I'm going to be a writer, it might be useful, but I'll determine that when the time comes. Seems like an exclusive writing club, kind of like the Dead Poets Society in the movie of that name.

I may still make an appointment so someone can sit down with me and be intensive, if it's necessary. I'm not sure if it is or not. I'll have to do research first.

It will be tricky to work out classes, with my minor on top of my major, plus one G.E. class left to take, but I think it's doable.

I think what I may need to do is research careers in respect to my major. I do want to be a writer, but it would be good to know what else is out there. I suppose one goes to the Career Center for this? After all, Literature and Writing Studies is broad, right?

I'm going to go downstairs to relax there (plus I think the internet signal is stronger there). More later.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First post from the new computer!

This is officially my FIRST post to this blog from my new computer. I am SOOO excited.

My computer arrived yesterday while I was at school, and I spent most of last night setting it up. Right now I am importing music into iTunes, since iTunes couldn't retrieve my old library. At least I saved my purchases from my old library to my iPod off my old computer, so I have something to listen to.

Here's a link to a picture of more or less what the computer looks like from the back (I can't find a good pic of what it looks like open from the front):

Fortunately my computer seems to be able to read the CD's I had sitting on my desk that I was meaning to import, which includes the audio CD's from my old French book and from my World Music book. So I should have some interesting music for starters.

I kinda hope I don't have to have anything read by tomorrow for class, because the classes I supposedly had homework in this week I don't have the books for yet. I think we are watching a film in History tomorrow so I should be ok there. Not sure about my Bio class in the morning.

I have four books left to get; two are novels, and two are textbooks. One is the main text for my history class, which I almost ordered only to discover that the cheapest offers for it were for books that were in really bad shape. The other textbook is Mexican Village and Other Works, which along with the novel So Far From God, I need for my Lit class. The other novel I need is The Wretched of the Earth for history class. I mainly need the two textbooks right now; I have some time to get the others (we're not reading So Far From God till the end of September, and we're doing The Wretched of the Earth even later, toward the end of the semester).

The only problem is the two books I need now aren't super cheap. Like $26 for one and $29 for the other. Yikes. What am I to do? I can't order them. And the prices for ordering them are about the same anyway. Grr.

The Lit book is of "Mexican Village and other works" but we are only reading "Mexican Village" as the teacher couldn't fit the other stuff into the curriculum. This work is in the library so maybe in a pinch I can photocopy the chapter (if it's not too long).

Somehow I'll find a way. I will. I suppose I could call the "used bookstore" across the street (a sort of secret place to get your books cheaper that the regular school bookstore doesn't want you to know about) and see how much individually those two books are and see if the price is better. That might help.

Oy I just downloaded the syllabi for my French class and Science class, and I don't know where they saved to.

I'm getting kinda tired so I'm going to go soon, but one more thing first: I thought about the website dilemma today at work. I had one idea, after talking to Laura (my coworker) about foreign movies. I could do a site about history and mythology in books and films (probably Asian history/mythology, since I was talking to Laura about Chinese films at the time). I know this sort of site works because of a similar site I have gone to a few times called "Anime-Myth," which lists and explains mythological references in anime and manga. I am not sure in what form the content will be -- a sort of encyclopedia or more like essays. The essay route sounds too academic, but the encyclopedia would be harder to code. Besides, regular people are into analytical essays -- Scribbulus (an essay project from The Leaky Cauldron) is proof. Also, I am pretty good at essays. It also has potential to grow over time (which was my main concern). I can think of a few topics right now. For instance I could do an essay on "Reincarnation's Significance in Om Shanti Om" (a Bollywood movie). Or "The Cultural Revolution and The Road Home" (a Chinese film). I suppose I could also include anime films, since some of them have such references (and I haven't seen a live-action Japanese film yet).

After a while, I might buy a domain and attach to it that site, my Pokemon site, and my personal site; for now, I want to see how stuff goes.

Well I'm pretty tired and I have school tomorrow. Good night!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I BEAT THE ELITE 4, last minute stuff for school, website thoughts, etc

On Friday night, after my parents had picked me up after I got stuck in an unfamiliar neighborhood while book hunting (more about that later), I got my player's guide out and prepared to fight the Elite Four (again, I didn't win my first attempt). I'd gotten all of my Pokemon up to level 52, since I figured getting them a little over level 50 would lessen the level difference a little. I switched out my Rapidash for my Japanese Roselia (now a Roserade because I evolved it with a Shiny Stone). I somewhat regret not bringing Rapidash because there was one Elite 4 member I knew I needed a fire-type for, so I had trained Rapidash for that purpose. But with all the types needed to combat both the Elite 4 and the Champion, I couldn't cover them all with just six Pokemon, even when I made Prynne (my Empoleon) do double duty by teaching it Ice Beam from a TM so I'd have an ice attack for Cynthia's Garchomp and Roserade. (This is a situation where I wish I had a Lapras like I do in Silver, where it's water/ice and can thus cover both bases).

First, I'll mention my training a little bit (I wish I could've made videos like Marilland, but I don't have the equipment to do so).

For Prynne, I trained her primarily in places where there were lots of rock and ground Pokémon that she could demolish easily with Waterfall and Surf. (I'd had Aqua Jet too, but I had to sacrifice it for Ice Beam, because her other moves are HM's and couldn't be forgotten). This after I used 1 Rare Candy on her because she was level 46 and so 1 Rare Candy, administered after so much hand-training, wouldn't mess her up and would help speed up the leveling process a little. So I went to one of my favorite training places, Iron Island. There are rock and ground Pokémon galore there, especially Gravelers who have a nasty habit of using Explosion on random occasions and sometimes knocking out your Pokémon. The only hitch is that they are only in the 30's and 40's in level, so you don't get a lot of EXP from them even if you 1-hit KO them, so training there takes a long time (you can't use the Vs. Seeker there either, so fighting trainers for EXP is out).

After some time in Iron Island, I went to Victory Road, which also has a lot of rock and ground types (I think all the caves in the game do, although they usually also have a ton of Zubats). These were better level to train against, and I gained a lot of EXP there. I think I got her to level 50 there. Then I used her in battles for a while and finally got her to level 52. She was the last of my Pokémon to reach level 52 for some reason. I guess Empoleon is just hard to train.

Shii (my Luxray, nicknamed "Shii" when it was a Shinx; I accidentially selected "yes" when it asked if I wanted to nickname it and so had to come up with something) was a little easier to train. I took it out on Route 223 (the waterway from Sunyshore City to the Pokémon League) and let it loose its lightning attacks on the gazillion water Pokémon (mostly Tentacruels) that populate that route. I did this a couple times, and I think I might have taken it on some other route also (I think Route 222, since I went there to try to fight that sailor Marilland trained Saik, his Alakazam, on; I also tried the beach near Lake Valor). I even re-fought some trainers on beachy areas and waterways using the Vs. Seeker. Even if the Swimmers and Tubers don't usually give you much money, I was able to get more because Shii was equipped with Luck Incense, which doubles the amount of money you get from trainer battles if the Pokémon equipped with it participates in the battle.

Rapidash, my sole fire-type, was for a long time a EXP leech (if such a thing exists). In other words, I simply gave it the EXP Share so that it gained EXP from battle even if it didn't fight. This is because fire-types don't have a lot of types to train against. They are only good against Bug, Grass, Ice, and Steel, all of which are as rare as fire-types in the games. Though I took its EXP Share off of it after a while, it did level up pretty well, though I'm not sure how I trained it; I think I had EXP Share on it at the time.

Mac, my Machoke (I still haven't found someone to trade it with so it would evolve into Machamp), was also an EXP leech for a while, since it's Fighting and I wasn't sure where to train it. But I found that Fighting is super effective against Rock, so I trained Mac in the same rock-type-filled places I trained Prynne. Since its attacks (except for Strength) are all Fighting-type, it gets a same-type attack bonus, which helps.

My Roserade (which I evolved from a Roselia I got over the GTS) didn't get a lot of special training since it was level 50 when I got it and didn't need much training. Grass is good against Ground and Rock, though, so I did train it against some of those.

Lastly, Gio (my Graveler, named "Gio" as a Geodude; again, I need to trade it for it to evolve into Golem, but I haven't found someone to do this with yet). Gio earned its EXP via the EXP Share, since rock-types, like fire-types, are only super-effective against lesser-seen types, except for Flying, which is common only in the early game and against some trainers. Ground hits electric well, but there's no one place to find lots of electric-types except Volkner's gym.

So...ANYWAY. I started the campaign while waiting for the pizza I'd ordered to come. I got distracted while fighting Bertha because the pizza arrived, and I shut off the game at that point so I could eat. But after I ate, I continued playing until after I won.

Aaron, the first Elite Four member, has Bug-types, so I used Star (my Staraptor, who got above level 50 before my first attempt at the Elite Four, which was ages ago) mostly. Having Rapidash would've been real useful here, but I'd forgotten it. But I used Gio I think too, since Bug is weak to Rock. I defeated him on the first try of my second attempt, and saved after the battle (I saved after all the Elite Four battles, so if I lost against the next person I didn't have to start all over).

Bertha was next. Unusually, she specializes in Ground-types (the other old-lady Elite 4 member I've faced, Agatha, has Ghost-types). I was prepared for her, with my Prynne for the Ground-types and my Roserade for her pesky Quagsire and Whiscash, which are both weak only to Grass. Anyway, as I said, I had to fight her twice, because I was interrupted in my fight by the arrival of my pizza. Despite the seemingly easy type matching, she was still really hard since her Sitrus Berry-holding Hippowdon seemed to be immortal and KO'd many of my Pokémon by using Earthquake (one of the most powerful moves in the game). But I did beat her, finally.

Third is Flint. This was my first time facing him, I think; I think last attempt I blacked out before I got to him. Though he's supposed to be a fire-type specialist, only two of his Pokémon are fire-type (Rapidash, which is pure Fire-type, and Infernape, which is half Fighting). His other Pokémon are Drifblim (a Ghost/Flying type), Steelix (Steel/Ground; coincidentially, Steel is actually weak to Fire-type), and Lopunny (a Normal-type, and the evolution of Buneary). I followed the player's guide's recommendations on this: Electric for Drifblim, Fighting for Lopunny, and Water for the Fire-types and for Steelix. Infernape was tough cause it kept using Flare Blitz, which hits for 120 power with 100% accuracy (meaning it never misses). I think I nearly blacked out on this fight.

Last of the Elite 4 is Lucian. Lucian is a Psychic-type specialist. Though Psychic-type is no longer super strong (like it was before Dark came along), it's still hard to type-match. The player's guide said to use Bug, Ghost, or Dark. I had planned to simply sweep it using Shii and its Crunch attack, but this didn't quite work out as planned. I think I had to use Mac or Gio against his half-Steel Bronzong anyway. His Girafarig kept knocking my Pokémon out with Double Hit. (I might have used Star against his Medicham too). So overall Lucian was very hard, and the fight came down to the wire. But I won!

After Lucian is the Champion, Cynthia. Thank goodness I'd saved after fighting Lucian, because I blacked out in my first fight with her. Instead of starting over against the Elite 4 after the obligatory "return-to-the-nearest-Pokémon-Center" scene that appears when you black out (something I really didn't want to do), I simply turned off my DS, turned it back on, and continued from my last save point, which was, as I said, in Lucian's room. So from there I went back to Cynthia for a second try.

Let me just say this: CYNTHIA IS REALLY, REALLY HARD. She's not the Champion for nothing. She doesn't specialize in a type (similar to the Champion in Red/Blue, Blue), so type-matching is not super easy. Ice-type moves work for her Roserade and Garchomp, Electric or Grass for her Milotic, Grass for Gastrodon. Her Lucario could go down to Fire-type moves as a half-Steel type, also Fighting and Ground, and Flying and Psychic due to its Fighting type. Her Spiritomb, though, is a problem, since as a Ghost-Dark type it has NO weaknesses whatsoever.

I had taught Prynne Ice Beam, as aforesaid, to deal with Roserade and Garchomp, and this worked well in that respect. Ditto for Shii vs. Milotic and Roserade vs. Gastrodon. Lucario was a real annoying Pokemon since it was so fast it kept getting to attack first (despite Speed being Lucario's second worst stat in base stats at 90, after Defense and Special Defense, which are tied for worst at 70). It kept KO'ing my Pokémon using its four majorly-powerful attacks (Psychic, Earthquake, Aura Sphere, and Dragon Pulse).

As for Spirittomb? Well, weakness-less as it may be, you can still take it down. I found this out through a little experiment. I figured that, since the thing was just a big ball of gas, that an electric attack would be super-effective on it (I think this happened when I've fought Gastlys in places like the Lost Tower, which is why I would've thought of it). And so it was. Unfortunately, Cynthia uses a Full Restore on the thing at some point (I really hate when gym leaders and the like use recovery items on their Pokémon when you least expect it) and after a while, actually withdraws the thing and sends out something else. In the end, though, electric attacks did do a lot of damage to it, as did some other type of attacks I had (My Roserade's Petal Dance, I think, which seems to do some damage to anything simply because it never misses, has fairly high power - 90 - and can continue for 2-5 turns, though it confuses the user afterwards).

Once I beat Cynthia, I was ecstatic. After playing on and off since February (according to my trainer card, I started my adventure in February), I've finally beat the Elite Four. Yess!!

After you beat Cynthia, she takes you upstairs to register you and your Pokémon in the Hall of Fame, typical procedure for after you beat the Champion (as I found when playing Silver recently). The one difference is that Professor Rowan (the Sinnoh professor) shows up to witness the event. You also learn at this time that Cynthia has been undefeated for some time prior to your win (as she mentions to Rowan). After you register you and your Pokémon, the credits begin to roll. It begins by showing your character biking down the road in the morning and then shows black-and-white pictures of the bicycle, the characters' bags, and the Running Shoes, as well as silhouettes of the starters. Then it shows your character biking again, this time during the day. Then it shows the Pokémon team you just registered in the Hall of Fame. Then it goes back to the bike scene, but this time it's nighttime. Then the credits end and the game autosaves and then restarts, bringing you back to your house in Twinleaf Town. Now, you can do all the post-Elite 4 stuff, like getting Dialga or Palkia to complete the Sinnoh Dex (you "see" it via a picture in a book in Celestic Town) and getting the National Pokédex and a bunch of other stuff you couldn't get before. You also now can do the event which causes Cresselia to roam Sinnoh (Mesprit-style) so you can catch it. Like Mesprit, it is level 50 when you encounter it, and like Mesprit, any damage done to it before it flees stays. So far, it has been easier for me to encounter Cresselia than it is to encounter Mesprit.

You also get the Poké Radar around this time; Rowan gives it to you after Oak upgrades your Pokédex to National. This can help you find some really rare Pokémon (see here for a list). Pal Park is also open to you at this time, but to get Pokémon to appear there, you have to import them from the Generation III games (Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald and FireRed/LeafGreen) and then catch them in a Catching Show. Also, similar to how Bill gave you an Eevee in Gold/Silver, his D/P counterpart, Bebe, will give you an Eevee if you visit her at her house in Hearthome City after you get the National Pokédex (however, you must have an empty slot in your party to receive it; if you don't, just go next door to the Pokémon Center and clear a spot--Bebe will wait). I did this today. The Eevee is level 5 and comes with the moves Tackle, Tail Whip, and Helping Hand. Mine also came with the ability Adaptability, which "powers up moves of the same type." So far, only Eevee and Porygon-Z have this ability. Since all of the moves it comes with are the same type as it (Normal), this works out (although Helping Hand is only useful for double battles, since it ups your ally's attack).


School starts at CSUSM tomorrow, and my classes on Tuesday. Because the check I received from CSUSM (which came last Thursday) was for only part of the money (I'll get the rest later, since the Pell Grant disbursement date is at a different time), I was in a bit of a pickle for getting my books. Long story short, I was able to get four of them, all of them novels I need for my Lit class, from a couple of used bookstores. I went to CSUSM yesterday to buy the package for my French book, but since I had to buy it new it was like $180. I regretted this deeply, especially since the package includes a CD for SAM, a program I used before in my CIS classes that we only ever used for reviews and tests, and a dictionary, which I don't need (I already have one). Therefore, I only really need the book and the workbook, since I don't need a dictionary and I really doubt we will actually use SAM for anything other than personal practice and such (i.e., I don't think we'll use it for homework or tests or anything).

Fortunately, when I went online to see if I could order the books I still needed, I was able to find the book and the workbook, both on their own, for around $30-$35 for the textbook and around $20 for the workbook. This is way better. So I am going to return the package tomorrow (Papa is going to take me to campus before work).

I just checked my bank statement and the purchase of the package is still in my holds, which may be a good thing. It might have been tricky if it had gone through already and then I returned the thing. I will have to ask the person who does my return what will happen, or call my bank, whichever is more appropriate to the situation. I remember when I had to cancel my Papa John's order because of a mistake in the online ordering, the bank told me that since the transaction was on hold they couldn't do anything about it, and that it was up to Papa John's whether or not to let it go through.

The reason the purchase bugged me so much is because, since I won't get paid this week (because the paycheck I would've gotten reflects last week, when I was on vacation), I need to make the money from my last paycheck last two weeks rather than one. And with that purchase, I would've only had a little over $100 for that period.

I do still need to watch my money in the next few weeks, since I need to pay Papa back for letting me use his credit card to order the rest of my books, since I didn't think I had enough money for all of them. I think that is only about $100 though. I'll also owe them the usual $90 soon (for rent and my cell phone bill), and I owe them money for buying me a new work shirt (that I might be able to pay them with this check if the return goes ok, since that was like $43).

I have learned my lesson, though, and I will try to do better at ordering my books sooner next time. Next semester, if I'm still at Stater Bros., I should receive an anniversary check around January 17th, which is close to the start of classes, so should I get stuck in this pickle again, I'll be in better shape. But then, knowing the system by then, I will probably be better with planning to have to spend money there and be able to order them ASAP after the booklist is released.


I was reading this article I found years ago that was in that old folder of mine that gave advice on making a website. It said not to try to do a general info site but to focus on a certain area. I think I can do that with Pokemon, using a site I made a long time ago and just re-discovered when scouring "Ami's Stuff," called "Misty's Piscine." That site focuses on Misty and on water Pokemon, with a full-on "Water Pokemon Database" with Pokemon from Red/Blue and Gold/Silver, the only games I knew about at the time (Ruby/Sapphire was available at the time, but I have yet to play those games).

I also want to do a personal site that features my writing; I was able to find a lot of my older writing, including old poetry, in "Ami's Stuff."

Other than that though, I am lost. Why? Because I want to cover ALL my interests. But my interests are many. Based on a combination of lists in my profiles at YouTube, Blogger, and Facebook, I have interest in anime, literature, languages, history, mythology, fantasy books, geography, tennis, reading, writing, trivia, singing, playing around on the computer, and books in general. That's a lot, and what with all the anime I've seen and the manga I've read, just that environ alone would need its own site.

I think I can narrow this down, I hope. Let's see. Well, first off, some of these things -- namely reading, writing, singing, and playing around on the computer -- are really not interests but hobbies. Besides, I plan to cover my writing on the aforesaid personal site anyway. So check those off.

"Fantasy books," "literature," and "books in general" can be lumped into one category, since "literature" is a kind of book, as are "fantasy books." The "fantasy books" listing comes from my backup YouTube account, and is somewhat deceptive as I read stuff other than fantasy books. I think I just must have been thinking of fantasy books that day. "Literature" is probably the same, as it appears on both my YouTube profiles. The "books" comes from my Facebook profile and is a little too broad of an interest. Besides, I can't see any of these being able to be covered effectively in a site (my attempt with fantasy books, a fantasy/mythology site I was planning called "Legend Became Myth," seems disorganized based on my outline for it). So scratch those.

I'm not sure why I put "geography" and "languages," which both come from my YouTube profiles. I am good at both subjects, but that is all. Also they are very broad and also kind of dull subjects for a website or even a website section. There's not much you can do with either (even my "Learn French" website, done for a tables assignment in my webpage making class, didn't seem too fun to visit or make; it took a LOT of coding). Plus language resource sites are way too common. Even "geography" in Google brings up more than 91 million results, and the top ones all appear to be educational, whereas any site I'd make would be informative, but kids probably wouldn't use it for reports.

"Tennis" came from my backup YouTube account profile. Again, like with the "fantasy books" idea (which came from the same list; so did "geography"), I don't know why I put it. I think I was trying too hard when putting in interests in the profile to list every possible thing I could be interested in. I have only a slight interest in tennis; I enjoy watching it on TV, I did a speech on it for speech class, and I enjoy the Prince of Tennis anime and manga. So I don't think I could do a whole site on it, though I could do one on POT since there's not a lot of fansites for it.

"Trivia," which comes from my Blogger and Facebook profiles, is also kind of vague. I am a BIG trivia buff. But "trivia" seems like a hard thing to do a site about. There's so much trivia out there. I'm not even interested solely in a certain category of trivia; I like trivia in general. Heck, even Ken Jennings' official site isn't devoted to trivia (I know; I just checked). It's mostly about him (as it should be in his case). So I don't think a "trivia" site is plausible.

That leaves us with anime, history, and mythology. Technically, coming up with focuses on these three things IS possible. Well, mythology might not work as a site, thanks to the mythology-dedicated monstrosity that is Encyclopedia Mythica, which has info on every type of mythology that exists. Plus, though I do like mythology, it's a heady subject to do a site about. I don't know how I would focus it. I could focus it on Greco-Roman and/or Norse mythology, my main mythology type favorites. Or I could focus it on a certain story cycle, like the Trojan War, the voyage of the Argonauts, or the tales of one of the families (Oedipus cycle, etc).

Just checked -- typing "norse mythology" into Google shows 912,000 hits; "greek mythology" gets 756,000. Egyptian mythology is even less with 577,000 hits.

Well, I'll think about that one. Moving on...

History is definitely focusable. While I claim to love history in general, I am aware that there are certain historical topics that really interest me. World War II and the related Holocaust is the big one, somewhat ignited (I think) by my reading of Anne Frank's diary, among other books. Other than this, I have enjoyed a book about Maoist China very much, and just recently read a historical novel about Japan. I also was very interested in the history of China and Japan presented in my World History book, and in the references to Japanese culture and history in my Del Rey manga volumes. So I could do a site on those two topics. I would have to plan it through more thoroughly though.

Anime (and, by association, manga) is hard because I have seen so many anime (in whole and in part) and read so much manga since the days when I made my first few anime sites, like my attempts at Pokemon sites, my Tenchi Muyo site "Ayeka's Palace," and my Sailor Mercury shrine "Liquid Mercury" (for which Amy made the most awesome logo, using Photoshop). I still say that Pokemon, Sailor Moon, and Tenchi Muyo are my favorites, but out of those three the only one I have had unwavering interest in is Pokemon. I'm not sure what sort of content I put on "Liquid Mercury" and "Ayeka's Palace," so I wouldn't know where to start for sites on those animes. Yet if I only do a Pokemon site, I'll feel like the other animes I like should get a site too.

I think I shall have to give all of this a lot of thought. Probably even sleep on it.

I just thought that maybe I can combine the history and mythology stuff into one site. Not sure yet though.

Well, I think I shall go downstairs and get some dinner. After that, I am not sure what I will do tonight. Oh, I do need to make my sack lunch for tomorrow, I guess, even though I am on a non-full shift tomorrow (11-5 - that's six hours) and won't actually have a lunch break unless they ask me to stay later. Oh well. My menu for tomorrow? A bologna and cheese sandwich on a roll, fruit slices with yogurt, and some kind of chips (I'd planned for pretzels, but I couldn't get the little tiny Snyder's bags I was looking for; I'll have to substitute). I'll have to ask Mum where those cold packs are that she says we have (you know, those things they sell to put in your lunch bag so stuff stays cold).

Wow this is a long post. (I started writing it at 2:50 PM?! That's what the post time thingie says. Yikes). Goodnight for now.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Computer problems, Half Blood Prince delay

I was trying to post to this blog the other day and suddenly something happened with my laptop cord, causing my battery power-less computer to shut off. This was a typical occurrence, so I tried to simply plug it back in, but when I did so, nothing happened.

Mum said it wasn't worth getting a new cord when I was going to order a new laptop pretty soon anyway. And that I did, on Monday night, using her computer (which I'm also using right now to type this - she's letting me borrow her computer tonight). Since I didn't have quite enough money to get the computer I wanted, and since I needed the computer to arrive in time for school, I opened an account with Dell and paid for the computer on credit. The first bill won't arrive till 45 days after my computer arrives, and by then I will probably have enough money to pay it off in one lump sum, since I was only $70 shy of the estimate I had for what the computer I originally was going to get would cost.

I got a good deal on the computer. I got about $13 off by ordering it via a link from the CSUSM Bookstore website (I could've also done it through my labor union, but the savings would've been around the same either way). And then, I got a SHIPPING DISCOUNT. I don't have to pay any shipping, which is great cause this knocks $20 off the price tag. Though of course, there was a lot of sales tax (California has one of the highest sales tax percentages in the U.S., I think), and I had to pay an $8 "environmental fee" that Dell is required to collect due to some bill passed by the State of California. All in all for $666.11. This for a laptop with a "glossy, widescreen 15.4 inch display" and a 120GB hard drive. The color is "Ruby Red." (I had to pay an extra $25 to get a color other than black, which is kind of silly). I also took advantage of this special offer where you get Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 if you pay an extra $10. I do not know if this means it will be pre-installed, or if they will send you the program in a box for you to install yourself. Either way, it saves me the money of having to buy the program separately (as I was planning to do). And should it work, I will have OneNote 2007 for writing my class notes in, and my pencil-holding hand will thank me for it. Not to mention that typing class notes using Word (the way I used to do it) is a pain. I may also use OneNote to organize my notes for my writing projects (an idea that could've saved J.K. Rowling a lot of trouble too, I just thought -- she has all her notes on Harry Potter in these multitudes of notebooks, I hear).

I chose 3-5 day delivery, but I still am not certain whether the computer will get here before school starts, as Dell has not e-mailed me or anything about whether it has been shipped. At any rate, since I ordered it on Monday night, it could come as early as Friday (assuming the order went through Tuesday morning). It would be nice to have time to familiarize myself with it before school starts.

One nice thing about this new comp is that it has Vista (ok, no flames please -- I know Vista has problems), and with that comes the new version of Movie Maker. Granted, it's not much different except for having around 20 new effects. But hey, anything new is good, right? If all goes well, Act 24 of the Dark Mercury Fandub Project will be the first Act made on the new computer. Exciting!

Speaking of school, there's a few prep things I need to do. I need to get a new backpack, for one. I also need to plan a lunch menu for next week so I can buy groceries. This is the method I have chosen to get myself back into bringing my own lunch. I'm going to try to do this for work as well as school. Also, sad as it is, I still need to get my books. I went to school on Monday to get all the ISBN's so I could look them up online. I definitely recommend this to any college student out there looking to buy textbooks online. Searching by title is nice, but remember that many college textbooks are a certain edition (or translation, in the case of plays, stories, or novels -- I remember my Asian Philosophy and Religion teacher wanted us to get a specific translation of the Tao te Ching). Getting the ISBN (short for International Standard Book Number) will ensure you get the exact book you need, because ISBN's are specifically assigned to one book only. This was a fact I picked up from working as a library aide, and it's helped me ever since.

Anyway, I haven't gotten my books yet cause I was planning to pay for them using the check from financial aid for the difference between what my tuition cost and what aid was offered, and I haven't gotten the check yet. I called and was told they are being sent out this week, but I expected it early in the week since my account was updated, showing me owing nothing, as early as last Friday.

I'm going out to shop for that stuff tomorrow. I know, lame thing to do on your vacation, but oh well. I mean, I spent nearly all day yesterday getting the stuff off my old computer that I wanted, backing it up to two flash drives, Photobucket, and my iPod respectively, and returning the computer to startup status using my recovery CD. This is because I decided to try to get things off this CD-ROM I have that is a backup of my old main folder "Ami's Stuff." The folder is at least 4 years old, judging by the creation date on most of the content, which is 2004. But the CD was so old it took a long time to load up (I had to use my Laser Cleaning Disc twice during the day to get the drive to run smoothly).

So far on my vacation, I have done the following:

Friday 8/15: After seeing Mum, Papa, and Andrew off, I spent the day mostly at home playing around on my computer. I went out in the afternoon to rent videos, and then came back home and, after some bungling, ordered a pizza.

Saturday 8/16: Woke up, with plans to go to Wal-Mart and to the movies. Walked up to Wal-Mart, was too tired to go then, and decided to go to the movies, and see how far the walk to the nearest SPRINTER station was (2 miles to up by Wal-Mart, plus 20 minutes). Took the SPRINTER to the theater, saw Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Went to Wal-Mart, Office Depot, and Target afterwards, searching for one of those CD-playing alarm clocks but having no success. Walked home (there was no bus service close to my house). Had leftovers (pizza).

Sunday 8/17: Got up early, went to church, came home (with a couple stops on the way). Spent the day at home. Mum and Papa came home that night, we hung out. On this night, my computer cord stopped working.

Monday 8/18: Went to Cal State to get the ISBN's. Got small lunch from Cougar Corner convenience store, as The Dome (the place where you get real food) was closed for renovation. Went and hung out in library open computer lab to use their internet, left a lot later than planned thanks to getting caught up in a couple Marilland videos. Left, walked to Cal State SPRINTER station to see how far away it was walking (also the shuttle to the station was not running, and I wasn't sure when the bus would come). Took SPRINTER, went home. Found and ordered a new Dell laptop using Mum's computer. Afterwards, watched TV with Mum and Papa ("In Plain Sight" and "The Closer"). Went online once more on Mum's computer, watched Marilland training video (Elite Four Training: Saik and Checkmate) to get my mind off the scary TV episodes. Went to bed, after I think reading and playing Pearl on my DS.

Tuesday 8/19: Might have had plans, not sure what they were. After breakfast, started campaign to get old stuff off computer; finally started running reboot program around 5:45 pm. Left to go to store to get more soda and stuff; forgot to get something for dinner. Fortunately, my dad was able to add to his Taco Bell order and brought me home three crunchy tacos with no lettuce (what I usually get). We ate while watching TV; watched re-run of season finale of "Beauty and the Geek." I went upstairs and played my DS, continuing my quest to level up all of my Pokemon to a level that will work for the Elite 4.

Wednesday 8/20 (today): Got up early, got ready, and went to Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, where I've never been, because I was determined to go to a new beach. Kind of crowded, not nearly as much as Oceanside usually is. Was there for only around 3 hours, due to delays leaving (I forgot my wallet, holding my bus pass and my debit card, and had to go all the way home from the bus stop to get it, which caused me to have to take a later bus). I found a place for my towel and stuff, went out and swam, came back, had a snack from the snack bar, read, and then tried to nap a little, then went and swam again, then came back and hung out on my towel for a little bit before deciding to leave. After walking the few blocks to Encinitas Station, I caught the bus to Oceanside Station, caught the SPRINTER, then caught the 332 to get home. Despite my efforts to spray sunscreen in every needed place, I still got bad sunburns on the backs of my arms and legs. I hope they heal before I go back to work next Monday! I put aloe on the spots and they stung badly; Mum recommended taking ibuprofen for the pain, which I did, and I feel much better.


Moving on, I'm sure you've all heard by now the sad and annoying news about the delay of the film of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In a surprising decision, Warner Bros. decided to push back the film (which was slated for release November 21st, following the footsteps of movies 1, 2, and 4, which also had November releases -- movies 3 and 5 were released in the summer) so that it will now be released on July 17, 2009, almost a whole year from now. It is kind of stupid, really; principal photography wrapped ages ago. The movie was filmed to be released this year. I am checking and the only movie slated for the same day as the new release date is Universal Pictures' Land of the Lost, based on a '70's TV show. Actually, July 2009 seems to be the month of TV show-based movies, since a movie based on "The A-Team" is also slated to come out that month. I suppose it could be because of the writers' strike that there is a lack of original movies for that month, as well that Half-Blood Prince is being delayed. (Coincidentially, placing it at July 17, 2009, puts it at almost the 4-year anniversary of the release of the Half-Blood Prince book, which was released on July 16, 2005. But that's probably not WB's reason). Half-Blood Prince started filming on September 24, 2007, right before the strike officially started, so it very possibly was one of the films that were "rushed to production" after the news of the impending strike.

Just checked - the only other Warner Bros. film currently slated to open in July 2009 is Guardians of Ga'Hoole, which, coincidentially, is also a film based on a series of fantasy books. Except that these ones are about owls, and almost all the characters are owls. As for other summer films, the only ones Warner Bros. has for the Summer of '09, besides Guardians and Half-Blood Prince, are Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins in May, nothing in June, and Shorts in August. That is IT. It is definitely not the summer of Warner Bros. Meanwhile, the summer competition? A new Star Trek movie (which is sure to get sales -- it's an established franchise, for one, and let's not forget how crazy Trekkies are), a new X-Men movie, a Transformers sequel, a movie of Angels and Demons (the book that introduced Tom Hanks's character from The Da Vinci Code), a new Fast and the Furious, and a G.I. Joe movie, to name a few. All of these have name recognition and are likely to sell (not sure with Angels and Demons, given the bad publicity given The Da Vinci Code by Christians).

So why change the date? Based on, the only big competitor the movie would have had would have been the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, which is coming out November 7 (and looks like it's going to be awesome), and also the Twilight movie (as in based on the book series by Stephenie Meyer) had that movie kept its original December 12, 2008 release date. Despite this, they changed the date, and Twilight's release got moved up three weeks to take Half-Blood Prince's slot.

I heard the first bit of an interview recently that MuggleCast did with Stephenie Meyer (I skipped the part where they discussed her new book, Breaking Dawn, because even if I never intend to read it, I didn't want to spoil myself). I should've seen it coming since a lot of the MuggleCast hosts are also fans of Twilight (and four of them have started a separate Twilight podcast). Anyway, aside from finding the 34-year-old (thanks Wikipedia) Meyer way too bubbly and sounding really young for her age, I seemed surprised that she doesn't watch horror films and has never read a vampire novel. It's like, hello! If you're going to WRITE novels about vampires, people are going to expect you to have READ that stuff. Most writers write novels like those they like to read -- I know I do. Now granted, I do write sci-fi despite the fact that I do not regularly read sci-fi. The only sci-fi I've read are the Mars Diaries book series, the Power Mark comic series, the sort of sci-fi manga Chobits, and the novel of Star Wars Episode I by Terry Brooks (the book was pretty boring btw - having seen the movie, I found while reading that I knew almost the whole plot already). I do watch sci-fi in movies and TV, though most of my experience in that vein has been with Star Wars.

On the other hand, I write fantasy and also read a TON of fantasy novels. Yet, my fantasy novels have been hard to do. I think this is because I plan them out and realize that they seem very deriviative. In other words, it seems like I'm simply copying things I've read, but with slight changes. My Walden stories -- my primary fantasy project -- seem heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings, particularly my idea of the Elves being born in the West and then coming to Walden in boats -- which is very similar to the Elves leaving Valinor for Middle-Earth in The Silmarillion. Also, one "tale" is referenced in my "notes on Walden" that speaks of the love between a dwarf and an elf, and how their union causes a new race to be born. While there are better changes here, it seems awfully similar to the The Lay of Leithian, a.k.a. the story of Beren and Lúthien, also in The Silmarillion. I guess in many ways I have modeled my elves, the Nuri Fidele, after Tolkien's, and that is why there are so many similarities.

I wonder if this deriviative nature of my work is because I simply cannot write original fantasy or because my personal writing style/voice is not fully developed. I personally think it is the latter, since there are ideas in the "Walden" series that are original, though there are some Biblical allusions -- Chaimvin being portrayed as the one and sole God and Creator, for instance, being a reference to the monotheism of Christianity; his "servants" being a reference to angels; and the Great War being similar to the war that drove Satan out of heaven (except that it happens much later and involves some of the peoples of Walden, and not just spirits). The apocalypse story for Walden is also somewhat Biblical -- it involves the arrival of a Savior and a final battle in which evil will be vanquished forever. But Biblical allusions are all right.

The Chaimvin/God comparison is a small nod to Narnia, in which Aslan tells the children they must get to know him as he is in their world (and Aslan is meant to be the "Christ figure" in Narnia).

I wish someone would tell me the difference between being inspired by other books and being derivative. I suppose sooner or later I will say, like Philip Pullman, that I took things from every book I have ever read.

Oh boy it's late (1:14AM). I better go to bed. I just hope I can sleep what with these sunburns.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Shorter hours, upcoming vacation, new laptop, featured on WTPT!

The last couple weeks I haven't been getting a lot of hours at work, usually the bare minimum (24). Last week, I worked 6 days but only worked 4 hours each day. Doing sampling, this sort of shift is fine, but doing production (working in the bakery) it's not very useful cause it doesn't give one a lot of time to do anything. This week, they gave Monday-Thursday off and then have me working full shifts Friday-Sunday (so I still get 24 hours). Mind you, I did not request 4 days off. They just gave it to me.

Shorter hours means less money, just when I need money for books and stuff. Now is bad as well cause, with only a little under two weeks till my vacation starts, I don't have a lot of time to build up my checking account before I go on unpaid vacation, and I nearly drained it last time thanks to two trips to Balboa Park where I took out a lot of cash each time, and spending $70 at Comic-Con. Thanks to my low hours, I didn't build it up by much since after taxes, my check was just under $200. After paying $90 to Mum and Papa for rent and my cell phone bill and $49 to Cal State for my August bus pass, that doesn't leave a lot of money. And now I have to buy a new work shirt, even though the two I have are still fairly new and work well, just because my collar gathers when I have my tie on and won't stay down, and Diana (store manager) and Sandra (my department manager) have both said I need a new shirt. It's like, GOOD LORD I CAN'T AFFORD THIS RIGHT NOW!!! If I could delay it, I would, but I can't. I have to have it by Friday, when I work next. Thus I am having to be really cautious with money, not eating out as much. And if I do get something to eat en route to work or something, it's something pitiful like chips, a drink, and some small sweet (which is what I had for lunch today, en route to Cal State to get my bus pass).

The problem is, it's really hard to find shirts for work in my size (I'm a plus size person). I've already been through this anyways. The shirts I have now are Dickies and we had to order them online because I couldn't find anything after scouring several regular stores. And I can't go for mens' shirts like some of my female coworkers, cause I tried one on before and it didn't fit well over me (obviously, since I've got a big chest -- mens' shirts aren't made to go over big chests). I don't know a polite way to communicate this to my boss and my boss's boss, however, so tomorrow I'm going to go look again.

As I said before, my vacation -- probably my only one this year -- is coming up. I originally tried to get the week off before school starts, but I had to adjust the start date slightly due to my parents revealing that they will be out of town next weekend (15th-17th), helping Andrew move I think. Thus, Sunday especially, they won't be able to drive me to work, so it is best to have those days off. When it will end I am not sure, since everyone has to work the 24th (according to Sandra -- I overheard her telling Joseph this, and she didn't say anything when I mentioned it while she was confirming my vacation start date with me), which was my original requested end date. I suppose I can find out, just in case.

Fall classes start the 25th, which is exactly three weeks from now. Scary!! Fall booklists will be out next Monday, so I am going to try to order my books if possible. Mum was saying she thought they were trying to prevent people from doing that by publishing the Fall booklists so late, but I'm going to try anyway. Some of the extra $640 that is supposed to come to me due to the difference between my tuition and fee total and my provided financial aid will probably go to books, and also some towards getting my new laptop if I haven't been able to transfer more money to savings. The one I want is $649, and I have $400 toward it already ($300 from my economic stimulus, plus $100 I transferred from checking to savings a little while ago). I need to figure out how much shipping will be.

Hmm tried to run the thing like I buying it to see the shipping, but I guess maybe you have to add it to your cart and all first. I also went to the Dell Discounts page link on my union's webpage (you can get 12% off through them) and found out I can get $13 off the laptop I want. Not a lot, but every little bit counts. That makes it $636. Oh but it doesn't include the built-in webcam; that's extra. Eh well. I'll go back to my original plan then I guess.

There is another cheaper laptop in the same catalog that interested me, but it doesn't have much more hard drive memory than I already have (80 GB compared to my current 55 GB).

Hmm the laptop on the cover of the catalog is only $599, with $25 more to get some color other than black. With $19.99 shipping (if I do 3-5 days, which is fine with me), that's bound to be less than the other one. Hmm, did the math, it's less than the base price of the other one ($649). Again, the webcam's extra.

Ok one last thing then I need to go to bed. I wrote an e-mail to answer the Question of the Fortnight for the Female Trainers episode (an episode about girls who play Pokemon) and THEY READ MY E-MAIL ON THE AIR!!! I heard this on Saturday before starting work and it really made my workday.

I have also been catching up on older WTPT stuff. I downloaded as many of their older episodes as I could (one of them wouldn't download for some reason) from their Digg site, and I also subscribed to their Itunes feed for WTPT Live. I even made a NowLive account and downloaded Gizmo, in hopes that I can get onto the next live show.

Talk about "My Pokemon Ranch" (a Pokemon WiiWare game that was released in June) on the most recent WTPT Live episode I've listened to has made me really want a Wii, though I'm still not sure as far as the prices.

Ok I really must go to bed now. Good night.