Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sci-fi anthology, cont'd

I said I'd post about the sci-fi anthology later tonight, so here goes.

The anthology I'm talking about is called The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection. I bought it because I realized that it would be difficult to write science fiction (the novel I'm currently writing) without reading some myself. But the sci-fi selection at Barnes and Noble (small as it was compared to the fantasy offerings) was overwhelming, especially since I'm not familiar with the genre and didn't have the slightest idea where to start. I remembered that yearly fiction anthologies are usually published for different genres - books like Best American Short Stories, etc. I figured that would be enough to get my feet wet, and that if I liked stuff from it I'd at least have some leads. So I searched on the in-store search computer and found this book. I bought it.

The book is 628 pages (minus the introduction and the "honorable mention" list at the end), about as long as The Complete Tales and Stories of Hans Christian Andersen, which I read recently -- I read almost all of them except for some longer ones toward the end, which I skipped because the book was getting tedious. Unlike with that book, though, I actually managed to read all the stories in this anthology. The last couple stories were particularly tedious and I struggled to not skip them.

Out of the 628 pages of stories, I only really liked 10 stories. I don't know what that says about me. Maybe I only like a certain kind of story? Or am I just picky? Who knows?

The first story I liked was "The Gambler" by Paolo Bacigalupi. It is the third story in the anthology. The first two I didn't care for, but I liked this one. It is a near-future story and explores the idea of the role of the media in our lives and how we often skip over the stories on important issues on the Net to read about less important things. The story utilized this theme well, without being super preachy about it. The main character, a Laotian refugee named Ong, writes stories about the government and the environment for a news website. However, Ong is in danger of losing his job for writing about these things (even though they are what he is assigned), since he gets almost no readers. Eventually, he tries to save his job by interviewing a famous Laotian actress, but even after she takes him on a date and creates buzz about it on purpose, he still decides to stick to his guns and write about the important stuff. I think that is a good ending; I would've been annoyed if he ended up as a sellout.

The second story I liked was "Boojum" by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. This story is about space pirates who pilot a semi-sentient spaceship, and what happens to the crew when they are invaded while the protagonist, Black Alice, is repairing the ship's hull. The story was very intriguing. Not to mention that as soon as I saw in the premise that it was about space pirates, I was interested. I had never seen a story with space pirates in it outside of anime -- particularly Tenchi Muyo, in which one of the main characters, Ryoko, is a space pirate, and Outlaw Star. It was nice to see.

The third story I liked was "An Eligible Boy" by Ian McDonald (who also wrote one of those last two tedious stories). It is set in 22nd century India and basically turns their whole courtship system on its head by including artificial intelligence. The plot seemed very much like a Bollywood movie would be (and this was probably intentional), just with sci-fi elements and minus the musical numbers. It also featured two AIs directing the two lovers on what to say, à la Cyrano de Bergerac.

The fourth story I liked was "Shining Armour" by Dominic Green. It seemed almost more like a fantasy story than sci-fi, since it featured an old former warrior taking up arms again to save his hometown from invasion. Actually, some of the plot elements could easily have been used for a Star Wars story set during the Old Republic era, when the Jedi took their vow to help the helpless very seriously.

The fifth story I liked was "The Hero" by Karl Schroeder. It reminded me of Outlaw Star a little bit. The hero in this is a guy who's about to die but before he does he sets out on a mission to fix the mechanical "sun" of his home planet. The story is set in a universe Schroeder created for his other works, a universe he doesn't explain very much about in this story, so if I read more of his works in that universe I might get a better understanding.

The sixth story I liked was "The Egg Man" by Mary Rosenblum. This tells the story of a man who travels over Mexico on a dragon-like vehicle to deliver eggs to village people that have the ability to cure diseases. Unfortunately, the visit recorded in this story becomes perilous when local U.S. law enforcement realize the village is growing some illegal crops. The protagonist and the boy he realizes is his son manage to escape, however.

The seventh story I liked was "Balancing Accounts" by James L. Cambias. It reminds me a bit of the sci-fi novel I just read, A Star Curiously Singing by Kerry Nietz, which like Cambias's story is also told from the POV of a robot (or robot-like being in Nietz's case -- I make this disclaimer because this post might show up on Nietz's Google Alerts, as a post of mine elsewhere already did). Basically it involves a robot protagonist who is recruited for a mission to carry cargo to one of the moons of Saturn, only to have his route changed once the mission is underway. He also has to decide whether or not to try to save the human cargo inside his crate. (He does).

The eighth story I liked was "Special Economics" by Maureen F. McHugh. Set in a futuristic China, it follows a young woman named Jieling who goes to the city from the country in search of work. She finds work, but soon learns she and the other employees of New Life (a company that makes, among other things, bio-batteries to sell to Wal-Mart) are being exploited by the company higher-ups, who keep taking more and more of their pay under the pretense of it being needed to pay for various expenses and fees. Jieling and her roommate Baiyue decide to do something about it and start doing hip-hop dancing on the streets for money. Eventually, with this extra money and help from an official they encounter, they manage to get away from New Life and start a business to help others escape New Life as well.

The ninth story I liked was "The Ray Gun: A Love Story" by James Allen Gardner. It's kind of a silly story in a way, about a boy who finds a ray gun that fell from space and landed in a crater in the woods. The gun causes him misfortune -- tension in his relationships (due to his determination to keep the gun secret) and the suicide of one of his girlfriends. However, the ray gun manages to bring about a happy ending, reuniting Jack (the protagonist) and his first love Kirsten, who has become a famous writer after being inspired to write poetry about the ray-gun.

The last story I liked was "Butterfly, Falling at Dawn" by Aliette de Bodard. It is an alternate history story and a murder mystery rolled into one. An unusual mix to be sure, but it works rather well. The story is set in a world where the Chinese beat the Spaniards to Mexico and defeated Cortés at Tenochtitlan, taking over Mexico for themselves. Thus, the culture of the story is a mix of Aztec and Chinese, an unusual combination. The main character has become a magistrate after the Hue fashion (the Hue being the Chinese élite) and is called upon to investigate the apparent murder of a girl who makes holograms for a living. I won't reveal the ending there. Aside from the interesting cultural combination, I liked the idea of holograms being used as an art form. Also, it was nice to see an alternate history story that wasn't about the South winning the Civil War or the Nazis winning World War II (the topics of a large portion of alternate history stories today). It didn't take much suspense of disbelief to imagine either -- at the time explorers like Cortés were sailing, the Chinese were building their own empire. According to this article, they also built up a large navy and were active in trade with the West during the Ming Dynasty (the time period during which Bodard's fictional Chinese conquerors would have found Mexico, based on the Cortés reference). I think Bodard did research for this story (she would've had to anyway), because the history behind the changed history is solid. This would probably not be hard to do, since Bodard is currently living in France, where there are quite a few archived documents regarding China (as I learned from a book I read for history class called The Question of Hu; this is probably because of the French missionary presence in China in the Early Modern period, and their later colonial presence in French Indochina, which was made up of present-day Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, as well as Guangzhouwan, an enclave leased by France from China from 1898 to 1946, when it was given back to China).

So there you have it. Those are the ten stories I liked.

At least now I have some leads on sci-fi authors to read. One of the members of The Anomaly also suggested a long list of Star Wars novels for me to read. With that, the books that piqued my interests on GoodReads's "Best Books Ever" list, the Stephen King novels someone else on The Anomaly recommended, and the books I added today to my "Wanna Read" list on my weRead Facebook application, I'll probably be busy this winter break reading. At least I have a public library card, so I won't have to rely on my school's library for books (seeing as it may or may not be open during the break).

Well, it's late, and I have to get up early tomorrow. Good night!

Sci-Fi anthology & other catching up

Boy I haven't posted in a while. I don't think much happened since last post. (I'm writing this on my iPod with no wi-fi so I have no way of checking when my last post was). I did turn 25. That was big, I guess. I got presents from my parents -- a jean jacket among them. My brother is bringing his present when he comes home for Thanksgiving next week.

School is almost over. I don't have school next week because of the holiday and furloughs coinciding with it. The last few weeks of the semester are hard though, because that's when all the projects & papers are due or coming up. I have three papers -- one for Lit Theory due finals week, one for French due next week, and one for History, due December 7. I also have a French group presentation this week, a History group presentation due next weekend, and the all-class Press Publishing Project 4 to do. So much! (Plus our Press Publishing class might be further delayed, since Professor Doller just e-mailed us yesterday to say she'd caught swine flu!)

There are also myriad other tasks -- my Dark Mercury Arc Fandub Project, my solo fandubs, others' fandubs I have to send lines for, website stuff, keeping up with my social media and forums, and the novel I'm currently working on. Not to mention work. I've been moved back to Santa Fe after a couple days where I was late because of the bus. At least it's closer to my house, and I don't have to deal with that extra half hour I had to kill every time so I wouldn't be too early at the Escondido store.

Ok I have wi-fi now. Apparently, I last posted on October 25, almost a month ago. Sheesh.

I downloaded a bunch of new Pokemon music last night. This included some newer songs like the current Japanese opening, "High Touch!" (a remix of which, called "High Touch! 2009," was used as the opening song for the most recent Pokemon movie, similar to how "Together2007," a remix of "Together," the first Diamond and Pearl opening, was used in the Darkrai movie) and a Latino Spanish version of "Two Perfect Girls," Brock's song from Totally Pokemon. Both of them are pretty cool (the Brock one is particularly hilarious; you can hear a bit of it here).

"High Touch!" is a duet between Satoshi (Ash) and Hikari (Dawn). This is the first time we've heard Dawn's Japanese seiyuu sing, since unlike with "I Won't Lose! ~Haruka's Theme~" (which was sung by Haruka/May's seiyuu, KAORI), Dawn's theme ("By Your Side ~Hikari's Theme~") wasn't sung by her seiyuu (it was sung by Grin). It's odd to hear her newcomer voice along with the all-too-familiar voice of Rika Matsumoto, Satoshi's seiyuu (who has sung most of the opening songs for Pokemon to date), but they do work well together. The movie 13 version ("High Touch! 2009") is almost the same except it's even more upbeat and pop-like. You can hear the full version of "High Touch!" in this video, which even has English subtitles! Come to think of it, PearlShippers (those who favor the AshxDawn couple) will love this song; if you read the subs in that video, the lyrics sound very Pearlshippy.

Well I don't want to waste my iPod battery, so I'll stop here. I'll post about the anthology later tonight. Bye!

-- Posted from BlogPress

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thoughts and stuff

It's been a long time since I wrote here, hasn't it? Like a month? There really hasn't been much to write. It's just been school, work, and now working on my novel. But since I don't want to mix my personal persona and my writing persona, I haven't been writing about my writing here.

I have to admit, it's hard to write a novel. I haven't gotten into the groove of writing every day. I thought I would, but I haven't. I fear that I lack the discipline. Also, I'm afraid I'll finish too fast if I write every day (I figured out if I wrote a chapter a day, I'd be done in three weeks). If I finish, then it'll be over. True, there's revision. But the creative act itself of the first draft, the act of writing magic if you will, would be over. I'd switch my writer hat for a proofreader hat. And proofreading's not nearly as fun.

To be honest, finishing a novel in the state of seriousness I'm in about writing would mean writing it and sending it off to agents or publishers. I just don't feel ready for that. As it is, I've just got more or less confirmation that I have Asperger's Syndrome (Dr. Feder didn't say yea or nay, but given the options he's suggesting it sounds like I have it). I'm not sure how to deal with that. I mean, I'm the one who wanted to know for sure. But at the same time, it's another label. I'm a geek, a Christian, a bookworm, and an Aspie. Once you have a label, people expect things from you. They expect you to act a certain way because of whatever preconceived notions they have of whatever label they have put on you. So you do, because you don't know how to defy their expectations.

For example, I've begun to perceive I am becoming the sort of "teacher's pet" student - the student the teacher really likes because he/she does so well, the sort of student the teacher points to as an example. This is particularly true in French class, where it seems I can't choose not to excel; even when I don't study for a test I ace it. But in my Press Publishing class I had a moment with a group project where my partner far exceeded me in what she did for it, and I felt like I didn't do anything. Since I'm usually the one who has to step up and lead a group that's going nowhere (part of the reason I don't like group projects), it was a weird experience for me. I've noticed lately that I don't speak up in class much anymore. I guess I don't want to draw attention to myself. I don't like being the center of attention. I don't like being around a lot of people either. Even the Dome at its busy time is too much for me, which is probably why I've been eating my lunch earlier in the day.

I don't know why I'm so anxious right now...maybe because I'm sleep deprived (I haven't gotten much sleep the last couple weeks). Either that or I really do need those anxiety pills Dr. Feder was talking about. I've been sensitive at work lately, especially the last couple days. Even this afternoon, snuggled on the couch watching my recording of the "What's What" version of Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, I don't think I was that happy.

I won't lie and say I enjoy work that much either. Having the long transit commute to read, do homework, or even work on my novel is nice, but after that, not so much. I'm in the deli, a department I'm not very experienced in. I drop fried chicken too slow. One of my coworkers is bossy. There are too many customers a lot of the time. I can't handle it.

It's not even the department. I don't like the job itself. I don't make that much, my hours change all the time, and they keep transferring me (this is my 5th store in only about 3 years). But I can't quit now. The economy is too bad right now for me to try to find another job. Besides, I've already been through the job hunt twice, I don't want to do that again, not now.

I feel old as well. I'm going to be 25 in three days. That's halfway to 30. I still don't have my bachelor's, I live at home, I don't have a car OR a driver's license, I've never dated, never even been kissed, AND I WORK AT A FREAKING GROCERY STORE. I WANT TO BE INDEPENDENT, DANGIT!!!!!!!!!

But I can't. I don't know how to live on my own. I'm horrible with money and I'm not street smart.

This is it. I'm going to die an old maid in my parents' house without having driven my own car or gone on a real date or kissed a boy. I'll never finish school and I'll never leave this freaking job.

*Later, at 7:54 PM*

I talked to Mom. I feel somewhat better now, though my allergies are really bad and I have a headache. I think The Amazing Race starts in a few minutes so I'm going to go watch it. Bye!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Apathy or tiredness?, vacation, conference

I've noticed something. I don't seem excited about school this semester. Well, maybe excited is the wrong word. What I mean to say is that normally when I'm in school, I focus more on it, staying on top of reading & such. But I don't seem to care as much. I don't know if this is apathy coming on or if I'm just tired from the stress of getting transferred to a new store and such. I'm not sure.

Hopefully my vacation this week will help, though I'm not getting that much rest, to tell you the truth. Like last night, I stayed up till 1am semi-aimlessly using the computer--I even forgot to eat dinner!

Tomorrow is another Dr. Feder appointment (hoping for results this time!), Thursday school, and Friday & Saturday I have the San Diego Christian Writers' Guild conference. Quite a week!

Well I'm using my iPod to write this (I finally found a Blogger app!) and I don't want to waste battery, so I'll end here. Bye!

--Posted using Blogpress

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Transferred again, Comic-Con pics (finally), PotterCast Acting Troupe fansite, school

Well, after only about a month at the San Marcos store, I've been transferred again -- to the Escondido store. Yesterday was my first day there. It is a pretty big store. They had me do various GM stuff, though they didn't have many tasks to give me after I got back from my break shortly after 6pm. I spent a lot of time after my break rearranging the Shasta six-packs since many of them were in the wrong place. Not all of the kinds had a place, though, so eventually I had to leave it in the best condition I could. There were also a lot of some varieties and not of others. There was a lot of Diet Cola, Strawberry, and Grape, for instance (I don't think the Grape kind sells that well, honestly).

Yesterday, my mom FINALLY found the USB cord for her digital camera, so I was able to transfer my pics from Comic-Con to my laptop. The cord was in my brother's bedroom for some reason, and my mother was in there trying to put together an IKEA sleeper sofa. It took her a while to do, because IKEA furniture is notorious for being really hard to put together.

You can see the pics in this album: Some of the pics are from the PCLupinWillow live tour show I went to the same day, which featured a live PotterCast and a performance by The Remus Lupins (as well as an impromptu performance by Darren Criss of A Very Potter Musical).

In other news, I started a fansite for the PotterCast Acting Troupe. There wasn't a site about it, and I got rejected for a fanlisting of it, so I made a fansite. It's Wordpress blog-style. The URL is: I also made a Facebook group for fans of the Troupe, as a way of promoting the site: I put some info about it on MyLeaky (The Leaky Cauldron's social network) as well.

The site looks a little boring right now because I haven't found a good theme for it yet.

I've started school. In fact, I'm at school right now, on my break between my morning class and my afternoon classes. Classes are ok. Having literary theory first thing in the morning isn't ideal. There are points in class where the teacher is talking and no one is taking notes. Apparently, the stuff he's saying isn't worth writing down. I try to stick to his policy of only using my computer for taking notes, but I admit I do check my e-mail and stuff when there are no notes to take. I just switch to my OneNote window when he gets near my desk.

Frankly, I'm not really into theory. It's a little over my head. But I have to take this class for my major, so it can't be helped. It also would've helped if I'd taken the A section first, just like one of my friends told me. I would've if there was a section available at a good time.

My other Lit class, Small Press Publishing, isn't what I expected. There is a lot of independent work involved; basically almost every Tuesday we work independently on projects outside of class and Thursdays we meet for normal class. That seems to be the idea. I guess I expected something different, like we'd learn how the publishing process works and make our own journal or something. Not sure.

My online class, Society and Culture of Early Modern Europe, is interesting. The reading so far is not too bad as far as length and such goes. I think it'll be fun.

Lastly, French class. In a word, fun! I love Dr. Anover as a teacher, she's less by-the-book than my last French teacher, Dr. Geiger. Every Thursday we are going to have our "Global Simulation," where we all take on alternate identities and pretend to live in an apartment building together. I knew this was going to happen beforehand, and this is why I was looking forward to this class.

Well, I'd better go so I have time to eat lunch before French class starts. Bye!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yet another appointment, Howl's Moving Castle audiobook, Ponyo, fanlistings, "My World, My Way", Wii Sports Resort

I had another appointment today with Dr. Feder, the guy I am seeing to try to get an Asperger's diagnosis. This is the third appointment and we haven't gotten a diagnosis yet, which kind of frustrates me, especially since I felt I met a lot of the diagnostic criteria I saw in a table in a book on Asperger's Syndrome that I consulted for my sociology project (which involved creating a center for youth with autistic spectrum disorders). He's going to e-mail my dad with some observations, so we'll see how that goes. The next appointment is for September 23, which is the same week as the writers' conference I want to go to. With that, school, and the appointment, I'm thinking I may just take my vacation time that week, rather than trying to get so many days off in that week.

Yesterday, I finished "reading" Howl's Moving Castle via the audiobook version of it I got with one of my "free book" Audible credits. It's an interesting book, much more detailed than the Miyazaki film based on it (which was my first encounter with the story, and the motivation for me wanting to read the book). The basic storyline is pretty much the same, but most of the details are different. Howl seems more heartless, Calcifer seems more like a demon ought to be (he seemed a little too lighthearted in the movie, especially in the English version where he was played by Billy Crystal), and even Sophie is a little more interesting. The novel also has more of a traditional fantasy novel feel to it, and it even utilizes the classic novel technique of naming chapters for what happens in them, like "In Which a Royal Wizard Catches a Cold" or "In Which Sophie Expresses Herself with Weed-Killer" or "In Which the Moving Castle Moves House." We read one such novel in my U.S. lit class last semester, and I found it somewhat annoying, because it felt like you were told what was going to happen before it happened, rather than finding out on your own. But when doing study guides and essays these chapter titles are rather useful, because it can be a pain in those situations to remember what chapters something happened in. It also utilizes some fairy-tale tropes, like the idea of setting out to seek one's fortune and Sophie believing that nothing interesting will happen to her because she's the eldest (invoking the common fairy tale trope of only the youngest son succeeding in seeking his fortune). The author also cleverly uses John Donne's poem "Song" as the words of the Witch of the Waste's curse on Howl.

Speaking of Hayao Miyazaki, I saw his most recent film, Ponyo (called Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea in Japan) at the theater last Friday. It was very well done. The English acting (since this was of course the English dub done by Disney) was very well done. Liam Neeson was the best in my opinion, though the film's two young stars -- Frankie Jonas, the Jonas Brothers' kid brother, and Noah Cyrus, Miley Cyrus's little sister -- did really well too. Disney does cast these films really well. The last Ghibli film I saw before this, My Neighbors the Yamadas, had John Belushi in it as well as Daryl Sabara (Juni in Spy Kids).

Having seen Ponyo, I have now seen 9 of the 18 Studio Ghibli films: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, My Neighbors the Yamadas, Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle, and Ponyo. The ones I haven't seen yet are: Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro, Grave of the Fireflies, Only Yesterday, Porco Rosso, Ocean Waves, Pom Poko, Whisper of the Heart, The Cat Returns, and Tales from Earthsea. All of these have been released in the U.S. except Only Yesterday, Ocean Waves, and Tales from Earthsea. Only Yesterday and Ocean Waves have never been released in English, though Ocean Waves is set to be released as a subtitled DVD in the UK next year, with the theatrical release of Ponyo. Only Yesterday has been "shelved indefinitely" for dubbing by Disney due to some not-family-friendly content in it. Tales of Earthsea, Studio Ghibli's most recent film before Ponyo, is due to be released in the U.S. next spring. It's also the first film to be directed by Hayao's son Gorō.

I managed to get my first fanlisting up, a Hina fanlisting called Forgotten Girl, but the join form isn't working (you can enter data into it, but it doesn't go anywhere). I need to figure out how to fix that, and I hope to be able to do that with the fanlisting I'm working on at present, a Mamoru/Hina ship fanlisting called Earth and Sun (because Mamoru has the kanji for "earth" in his name and Hina has the kanji for "sun" in her name). The PHP stuff for fanlisting scripts, scripts that are supposed to help you manage your member list, I can't make any sense of.

I finally managed to get past the part I was stuck on in the DS game My World, My Way, which was to beat the Succubus Queen. She has, like all the bosses thus far, WAY too much HP compared to the player character (200 compared to the 85 HP I had at the time) and her attacks hit pretty hard. I figured out a strategy of not attacking her with my weapon (since that does very little damage) and cooperating with Pinky, the mimic slime that follows you, to alternately use damaging items like Holy Bombs and Ice Bombs and use magic spells like Ice Shards to whittle down her HP. So, to beat her, I recommend:

1. BUY POTIONS. This seems obvious, but it is really useful. Having Potions will allow you to heal so you don't have to waste your MP using the Heal spell. I bought 5 I think, which is generally enough for this dungeon since you also have a healing spell handy. If you're lucky enough to have some Magic Potions (which heal MP) handy, bring those too. They're rare because you can only buy them in some of the shops in the game, though monsters occasionally drop them. Plus, they cost a lot. If you need money for potions, fight a bunch of enemies with the "I hate being poor" pout in effect (which temporarily makes the monsters give you more money) or sell off those useless monster drop items like False Boar Fur and Venombug Down, as well as weapons you and the mimic slime don't need. You can also choose the cheaper meals at inns to save money.

2. Try to avoid other monster fights on the way, unless you need experience. You can do this by using a pout while walking in the dungeon that makes the monsters go away (I forget what the pout is called) or by using the "This is annoying!" pout at the beginning of battles. Before getting to the Queen, most of the monsters on the dungeon's bottom floor are hard-hitting regular Succubuses, so you will want to avoid those. This will allow you to keep your HP high and save your MP.

3. The Succubus Queen is rather weak to Ice-type spells, probably because her own spells are primarily fire-based (except for Reaper Slice). To exploit this weakness, buy some Ice Bombs from shops (or hold on to any that were dropped by monsters) and make sure Paro (the bird that casts all your spells for you) learns the spell Ice Shards from the snake-archer monster in the flower-filled room on the first floor of the dungeon. The Queen is also weak to Holy Bombs (as one might expect), so get some of those too. Unfortunately, unlike some other holy-magic-weak monsters, she's not affected much more if you use the Holy Sword spell (which imbues your weapons with holy power) than she'd be if you just used your weapon on her normally, so it's not worth it to waste MP using it.

4. Make sure to heal frequently, either by using the Heal spell or by using Potions. This will help you survive when the Queen uses Reaper Slice or Fire Curtain, spells that both hit for a lot. Also, have the mimic slime primarily cast spells, if it has the ability to do so, to save you from wasting your own MP (since it tends to have more MP than you).

5. Once the Queen's HP gets down to around 80 or so, you can probably risk using your weapon (although this won't do much damage) or other spells, such as Magic Arrow (which Paro can learn early on from Wizardrills). One benefit of using your weapon is the random chance that you will cause a status effect, preferably stunning (which makes the Queen temporarily unable to attack). If you got the Snake Bow from the snake-archer guy, use that as it has a chance of causing the Poison status, which takes 1 HP from its victim per turn. Another benefit of using your weapon is that most weapons have a 2-4% chance of landing a "critical," a hit that does a very high amount of damage (sometimes as high as 300). However, the chance of a "critical" happening is random, and you have no control over when or how often one happens.

Anyway, once you beat the queen, leave the dungeon via the shortcut near the lower floor entrance. Then return to town (you can do this instantly by pressing L, which lets you cast the Return spell) and speak to the innkeeper, who gives you the key to the next gate. Fortunately, you don't have to fight a boss at the next gate (like you did at the other gates) since Nero (the guy who's been shadowing you and setting up the gate monsters and the dungeon) decides to let you off easy. After going through the gate, you can return home.

I thought that would be the end of the game (even though the story up to this point only takes about 10 game hours), but the cutscene at the end has the adventurer guy Elise was trying to impress by going out on an adventure dump her YET AGAIN, stating that the Succubus Queen is only a minor enemy and that any amateur hero could take her down. So Elise decides to try again, and a whole new "adventure" begins! It's essentially the same as before, the same sort of stuff, except in new locations.

We'll have to see just how far this game goes, I guess. It's a good game, with classic RPG elements mixed in with a unique twist on character development and gameplay using the pouts and such. The monsters are not terribly creative, with many being variations of previous monsters (like the Firedrills I'm now fighting, which are essentially Wizarddrills with red outfits and firey bows, and the Firebug and Venombug, which are variations of a normal green bug monster). But it's still interesting.

Last but not least, I finally picked up Wii Sports Resort, which I had reserved at GameStop. I traded in a bunch of games the same day, adding up (with extra credit thanks to my Edge card) to $41.45 in store credit, meaning I only had to pay about $13 myself for the game. I've played it, it's pretty cool, though the Wii MotionPlus accessory (which comes included with this game) is still new to me. I've played Swordplay, Cycling, and Table Tennis so far.

Well, I'm going to go have some lunch (I requested the day off from work today for the appointment, so I am at home). Bye for now!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Major shock, new store, Twitter/Facebook much?, Tashica is gone, iFight Shelby Marx, fanlistings, projects, Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne

First, I have to write about a major shock I had today. After work, I decided I wanted some real food for lunch. So I went to this sit-down restaurant near my new store called The Money Pit (I know, doesn't sound like a restaurant...but then, neither did "The Max" from Saved by the Bell). I spent some time looking at the menu board to decide what to order (since, though it's sit-down, you order and pay first), because it was my first time there. Then, when I finally got in line, there was this couple in front of me. Then, out of nowhere, the guy in the couple started collapsing! I don't think he fainted, because after it happened he seemed conscious. He could've had a heart attack for all I know (though he didn't show signs of it). I was too in shock to do anything, and just stood there for some time because I thought I needed to stay in line (the line had moved though without my knowing it). Another patron had enough composure to yell to the employees to call 911. Eventually, even though I got in the right line, I didn't want to stay there, so I left and went to Taco Bell instead. I called my parents, but only reached my dad. I was really freaked out! The paramedics got there (I saw them from the window of Taco Bell) so hopefully the guy is ok.

I've just started my second week at the new store. Things seem to be going smoothly, although on days like today when I didn't get much sleep the night before, the day seems longer than it is. I'm working GMC stuff, specifically HABA (health and beauty) and doing pretty well at it. I was off yesterday, and today I helped Tom Green (a GMC who's sort of my supervisor) finish going through a pallet of tubs from Saturday. We managed to go through all that was left. Hooray! I have to do bake shop by myself a couple days this week, probably Friday and Sunday since I'm coming in at 6 a.m. those days. I don't know for sure yet, though; Tom said maybe I'd be working it on Wednesday since there's usually no one working the bread or bake shop on Wednesdays because there are no deliveries. We'll see.

My next topic is "Twitter/Facebook much?" (this is written in the fashion of a show I like called Totally Spies!, where they often said things like "Rude much?"). Granted, I am not against Facebook or Twitter; I've been on Facebook for a while now and I just recently gave in and joined Twitter, for the sake of promoting my writing (although I have a "personal" one as well, ostensibly for my personal site; I twittered to it using my iPod Touch about the collapsing incident as soon as I had wi-fi). But now it seems like EVERYONE has a Facebook and/or a Twitter (or both). Even TV news programs are getting them now. Just the other day, I saw a "find us on Facebook" logo on a copy of Do It Yourself magazine (a magazine that teaches you how to do DIY projects, supposedly) in the checkstands at work. It just seems like overkill. Now these networks have their advantages, look at the young Iranian Twitterers who twittered about the riots involving the elections there. But this is just TOO MUCH for me. I don't even know how to work the vast social network circuit. How will I ever use it to promote my writing? I'm in over my head.

Today I watched my DVR recording of the latest episode of HGTV Design Star, a reality show where designers compete for their own show on HGTV. I got into it last season, and now it's back for season 4. One of the designers on it is a girl named Tashica. She seems nice and all, but she keeps doing badly on the challenges and then somehow surviving to fight another week. [SPOILER] But this week she messed up again, and after some suspicious whispering between the judges and host Clive Pearce, she was eliminated (or, to use the show's terminology, her "show has been canceled") before they'd even gone through everyone else in the traditional elimination fashion (it was a double elimination this time). So at least we won't have to see her mess up everything anymore. [END SPOILER] She did seem a little annoying to me, though I haven't really picked a favorite designer yet. I like Antonio (the set designer) though; he takes the lead well and he does a good job at what he does.

I had another recording to watch after Design Star. I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I've gotten into the Nickelodeon show iCarly. For those of you who haven't seen it, it's about a girl named Carly who does her own comedy webshow with her friends Sam (who is a girl, btw) and Freddie. The starring cast is rounded off by Carly's crazy sculptor brother Spencer. Anyway, they had a special hour-long iCarly movie the other night, and that's what I watched today. It was called iFight Shelby Marx. [WARNING: spoilers here]. Guest starring Victoria Justice (from Nickleodeon's Spectacular! and Zoey 101) as teen martial-arts fighter Shelby Marx, the movie has Carly and Shelby agreeing to a charity exhibition fight after Carly teasingly challenges Shelby to a fight. But chaos ensues when Carly trash talks Shelby at the conference thanks to Sam's coaching, and Carly accidentially falls on Shelby's grandmother and is accused of tackling her. Carly chickens out of the fight and gets avoided at school for it, so she goes and explains the situation to Shelby and agrees to fight. But then Nevel (the iCarly trio's archnemesis and owner of a website review site called Nevelocity) shows Shelby a clip he faked from the press conference showing that Carly meant to push Shelby's grandmother. This infuriates Shelby, and she fights Carly for real, to Carly's surprise. Carly barely wins, and later Nevel's plan is revealed. Carly and Shelby make up, and Shelby appears on iCarly (not the TV show, but Carly's webshow, which also has the same name). The B-plot of this movie involves Spencer being so frustrated over his allergies he agrees to take an experimental allergy medication from a doctor in his and Carly's apartment building. While it does seem to cure his allergies, it has some strange side effects: first intense itching, then severe sweating, then uncontrollable thirst, then short-term memory loss, and finally involuntary muscle spasms. It's all majorly exaggerated, but funny. I sure would never take that medication, no matter how annoying my allergies are.
[end spoilers]

The four-week deadline for both of my fanlistings is approaching. My Hina one is pretty much done, I just need to do a final detail check and test the join form to see if it works. Right now, I'm just going to add people manually, until I figure out how to use a fanlisting script like Enthusiast or phpFanlist that can do it for me. I need to work on my Mamoru/Hina relationship one. It's going to be called "Earth and Sun," because Mamoru has the kanji for "earth" in his last name (Chiba) and Hina has the kanji for "sun" in her first name (Hina). Combining the earth and the sun also shows a sense of compatability, which is how I feel about their relationship.

As for my school projects, my Sacred Texts paper is done...halleujah. I have been prepping for it for a while, but I finally wrote and finished it yesterday in many long hours of work. I'm so glad it's done. As for my sociology project, I have taken notes from some books about autism, now I need to put everything together in terms of the website I'm making for the project itself. It's going to be hard, but I think I can do it.

Oh one last thing. I started watching the anime series Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne (Divine Wind Thief Jeanne), which is based on a manga by Arina Tanemura, who also created Full Moon wo Sagashite. When I first heard about this anime ages ago, I was somewhat offended by it because the heroine is the reincarnation of Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc in French, hence the "Jeanne" in the show title), who is my hero. I thought it awful that she was being trivialized like that. Now I realize that idea was silly. I've seen the first three episodes, and it looks pretty good.

Well, that's all for now. As Jeanne would say, Adieu!
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Monday, August 03, 2009

New store...again, Wizards of Waverly Place, fanlistings, projects

As of today I have been transferred to yet another Stater Bros., this time the one in San Marcos. The nice thing is it is smaller, this week I am working mornings and get off at noon, and it's a short walk from the nearest Sprinter station (and one Sprinter stop away from school, should I have to go to school and work on the same day, as I have to tomorrow because of the way things were scheduled).

The drag is that if I should choose to get myself to work, I shall have to catch the bus around 5:30am, meaning I'll have to get up rather early. I can't just get up at 5, it will have to be earlier. I am thinking of trying this tomorrow so I can figure out how to get there. I'm not sure which way to take though, because either of the two ways I could take will get me there rather close to my start time, with little margin for error. I might be able to get there about 6:40 taking the 305 from Palomar College, and I think it stops fairly near to the store (based on what the lady from 511 told me). If I take a bus and then the Sprinter, I'll have to walk half a mile from the station, which is fine going home but not great for when I have a time constraint as I would if I were going to work (although tomorrow I will have a time constraint going to the station because I am going to school after work, but I think I can still make it).

Today was my first day. I assumed I'd be working bakery, but I wasn't sure so I brought my floor GMC apron as well as my bakery apron and visor. It's just as well, since it does appear I'll be doing mostly floor GMC stuff, helping bakery as needed. I did work bakery for a while today though. The bakery manager, Cassie, had not been told of my coming and was thus rather surprised. I found out later I'd been switched for a girl named "Mo," who I worked with before at Encinitas (her real name is Maureen, but she prefers to be called "Mo"), who had done most of the HABA (health and beauty) ordering there.

Anyway, Cassie had me help her out. San Marcos is slightly different in that they have only a bake shop, not a full bakery (as I've worked in previously). Most of the same rules apply, and the product is pretty much all the same, except that most of it comes in frozen and pre-made (even the cakes!). The workspace is also very small, squeezed into some space along the same hallway as the breakroom, janitors' room, bathrooms, and office. It was somewhat difficult for Cassie and I to work together in this small space, but we managed. I learned mostly the basics of how things are run in that bakery, as well as how to input an order (since I may be doing this next week when Cassie is on vacation), that we have to cover the store's very small service deli as well, and how to make Mountain High Strawberry Pies (the pièce de resistance of Stater Bros. bakeries great and small during the strawberry season). I showed her how I packaged gourmet cookies, my scale trick for finding hard-to-calculate code-out dates (some items are good for like a month, and that can be hard to calcuate in your head), what Vegi-Wash looks like (since I thought we were supposed to use it to wash the strawberries), and how to test the sanitizer concentration. Cassie was pretty happy that I already had bakery experience, and that I mostly needed to learn how to use those skills in her smaller bake shop setting.

When Cassie no longer needed me, I changed aprons and went out on the floor, where I stocked HABA items. This was hard to do since I didn't know where things go (this being a new store), but I used the aisle signs as a guide and so I managed all right. I wasn't able to finish before I was off though, but I got pretty far. I also think I accidentially inhaled some gas from the broken lightbulbs I found in the first box I opened, because the box smelled funny, and something in my mouth and stomach didn't feel quite right the rest of the morning. I'm ok, though.

Things look like they shall go well. I don't know how long I'll be there, though. We'll see.

I have been working on finishing a website for a YouTube singing group I'm a part of, LaraAmyReilia Productions. AmyMizunoPGSM, a.k.a. Amy-chan, was telling me we were going to sing special solos, and hers was going to be a song by Selena Gomez that is from the Disney show Wizards of Waverly Place. I heard of this show when it first came out, but never watched it (I haven't been watching Disney Channel at all lately since Kim Possible hasn't been on). But the last couple days I watched it. They are currently in a 4-part series about the Russos, the wizard family that stars in the show, having a feud against a family of vampires, the Van Heusens, who open a sandwich store (called Late Nite Bite) just down the road from their sandwich shop, Waverly Sub Station. The problem is Justin from the wizard family falls in love with Juliet from the vampire family, and so chaos ensues. Alex (played by Selena Gomez) is sort of in the background of this saga. Anyway, the show seems interesting. It's currently part of the "Summer of Stars" lineup, which includes (besides Wizards) an animated show called Phineas and Ferb and the live-action shows Hannah Montana, Sonny with a Chance, Jonas (starring the Jonas Brothers), The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and its sister/sequel series The Suite Life on Deck.

I have little time to make my fanlistings that were approved a short while ago. But I am at a loss when it comes to fanlisting scripts. I tried phpFanlist, but I've never worked with PHP so I was really confused. I switched to Enthusiast, and I'm still confused. I'm just going to try to take it slow on that corner, but after that's over with, I can focus on the design and text (the easier part).

I have a paper due soon for Sacred Texts and my sociology project to do, which won't take too long to actually execute (I think), but is really hard to plan. The class I'm taking is clearly for sociology majors, which I am not. But sociology was all I could get at short notice, so I'm stuck. My teacher hasn't answered my WebCT e-mail asking about the project, or she has and I haven't gotten the message (I had some problems with that before). I may have to consult her during her virtual office hour tomorrow, even if it means doing it during my Sacred Texts class (since her virtual office hour is between 12-1pm).

My Sacred Texts paper is going to be comparing and contrasting the consequences of the fall of man in Islam and Christianity. I have books marked up with little flag markers, I just have to take notes from them, which I failed to do this last weekend. (I had to get up early to get myself to work while my parents were gone this weekend, and even on the days I got home early, the heat didn't make me want to do much). I might be able to get some of them done tonight though, with enough motivation. I can take some of the books with me tomorrow perhaps, and take notes on the bus (which I do sometimes to speed things up) if I have to.

I am also still doing pre-writing for my sci-fi novel Darkly Bound. I finally figured out how to do the one-page synopsis today. I was doing it all wrong before.

Ok I'm going to go so I can get through my e-mail and stuff and work on those notes. Bye!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Financial aid update, Comic-Con, first live PotterCast and wizard rock show, and other things

Okay, first things first. I added another class, and so far things seem to be going ok with financial aid since I haven't been dropped from any of those classes yet. I don't know if the financial aid will pay out or not because the financial info you need to look at to ascertain this is a little confusing.

That out of the way...yesterday I went to COMIC-CON. Yay! Aside from the San Diego County Fair, Comic-Con is the big event of the summer in San Diego (and the salvation of local hotels and businesses, my dad says).

It wasn't nearly as crowded as I'd expected from the rumors I heard and also based on last year's experience, where it seemed like we were in a mob constantly. There were parts that were crowded, but some parts you could walk through rather easily, and there wasn't much of a line to get badges either. I made it to the first panel I wanted to go to with time to spare!

I managed to get to two of the five events I'd planned to attend. The first was a rather crowded panel on "How to Get a Job in the Video Game Industry" and was sponsored by Capcom. I took notes, but they didn't say much worth noting. After that panel, I went around (since you have to exit the panel rooms from the back) to the room next door for a panel on "Spirituality in Comics." It was less packed and a little more intimate. I got to ask a question!

The other two panels I'd planned on going to were one on voice-acting and the big Mythbusters event. I missed the voice-acting one because I went to the live PotterCast/The Remus Lupins show in town (more on that in a minute) and by the time it finished, it was too late to make the voice-acting panel. The Mythbusters one I couldn't make because I rushed to stand in a line, got to the front of it, and found out it was the handicapped line (it was NOT labeled as such). I took a look at the regular line, and decided I didn't want to wait. I also was going to go to a Steampunk Meetup, but decided to pass so I'd have more time to explore the exhibit hall.

After all the excitement, I waited a really long time for a trolley, waited about an hour for an Amtrak train that was delayed because someone pulled the emergency break (I hope it wasn't a prank or I'd be mad), and long story short, I didn't get home till around 10:30pm. Since I'd had to leave super early (6:45am) because my dad, who'd offered to take me to the con, had to do a live interview at 7:30 at his work (he works at a Christian radio station), it was a LONG day.

After the "Spirituality" panel, I found a spot on the floor, put down my stuff, and went and bought a soda to have with the lunch I'd packed (since Comic-Con food vendors are usually rather expensive and often only take cash, bringing a lunch is a good idea). I also tried to tweet about not going to the Steampunk meetup (which I'd said I was going to on my writer site blog and my MySpace blog) using my iPod touch and the supposed glorious free Comic-Con wifi (provided by iGoogle), but even though I had a signal, Twitterific couldn't connect.

After eating my lunch, I headed to the exhibit hall, which I explored until 2pm, when I had to leave to go to the live PotterCast. The door I first walked in through led to an area mostly populated by booths selling anime stuff, including one for Media Blasters (a fairly well-known anime dubbing company). There were also booths selling some fairly indecent figurines and some for-18-and-up-only yaoi and hentai manga (I'm NOT kidding). I started making a list on my iPod's "Notes" thing of stuff I saw that I wanted so I could come back for it later. I spent some time at a booth for GameRave, a store that sells video games, trading cards, and action figures. They had a ton of Pokémon stuff, including a whole table's worth of cases with little figures that you could get a charm made with, or for $3 more, a keychain made with. In true Pokémon Ranger spirit, I got a keychain made with Plusule (the girl character's partner Pokémon in the first Ranger game).

I managed to make my way about halfway down the hall before I left. The last thing I did was play a demo game of the Pokémon TCG with a kid named Alex (after taking pictures of the booth there in hopes of posting them on The Pallet Tribune). It was fairly easy since the guy showing you how to play was giving you advice all the time. So with that advice, Alex and I played, and I WON! YAAAY! This is the first time I've ever won a Pokémon TCG match in my entire life. I took a picture of the kid (with his permission) for the record. I also got a free promo Riolu card, a free inflatable Ultra Ball, and a free Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky poster from this booth.

Using directions I'd gotten from the NCTD trip planner, I found my way to the downtown branch of the San Diego County Library, where the live PotterLupinWillow tour show (so named because the shows consisted of PotterCast and the wizard rock bands The Remus Lupins and The Whomping Willows) was to take place. I got there about 20 minutes early. When I got there, I saw the three PotterCast hosts who were on the tour (one of the hosts, Sue Upton, was unable to come on tour this year) - Melissa Anelli, John Noe, and Frankie "Frak" Franco - and nearly freaked out. I recognized them from watching the PotterCast vlogs, but to see them in person was a whole different experience entirely.

I had intended to get their autographs at the show, but was initially too nervous to do so, even though I had time before the show started and they were in the same room. Finally, I worked up enough courage to approach Frak, who was at the front of the auditorium, and ask him to autograph the page in my composition book that I'd reserved for that purpose. I acted totally starstruck, saying something about getting there and thinking, "Oh my gosh it's Frak," at which point I think Frak actually laughed. He took a while actually autographing, and I found out later why: he'd signed his name in a word bubble coming from his trademark Pellegrino bottle! Cool! Then, after some more nervousness, I approached Melissa in the back of the room and asked her to sign my copy of her book Harry, a History. I had to tell her how to spell my name since Comic-Con messed it up on my badge. I got John's autograph after the show, as well as that of Darren Criss, a.k.a. StarKidPotter or the star of "A Very Potter Musical", who happened to be there (he lives in L.A.).

The PotterCast portion of the show was very short but fun. I made two comments about Half-Blood Prince, one about there not being enough Luna Lovegood and one about the first Slughorn party scene where Slughorn asks Hermione about what her parents do. I wished they did Canon Conclundrums, because then I would've asked the question I wanted to ask about what character they thought got its name from a church guestbook (in the documentary J.K. Rowling: A Year in Her Life that aired here recently, when they show JKR at the church she and her sister used to clean as kids, she's looking at the guestbook and then shuts it suddenly, saying "I stole that name for Harry Potter" - but she doesn't say the name itself).

The rest of the show was a show by The Remus Lupins, led by L.A.-born Alex Carpenter. I was kind of bummed that The Whomping Willows (a.k.a. Matt Maggiacomo) weren't there, as I've heard more of that band's songs than I've heard of The Remus Lupins. I stayed for the show anyway, though I couldn't get myself to dance with everyone else (apparently wizard rock shows are expected to be big dance shows). I was happy when they had Darren sing a couple songs from "A Very Potter Musical." He sang "Harry" (Ginny's song) and "Granger Danger" (Ron and Draco's song from the Yule Ball scene, and also the song they sang when Darren and a couple other Very Potter Musical people were interviewed on PotterCast). I recorded Darren singing "Granger Danger" on my cell phone, though it took 6 videos because my cell can only record 35-second video clips. I actually sang along to "Granger Danger," but not loud enough for anyone to really hear.

After the show, I headed back to the con (though I had trouble at first finding the trolley station I got off at to get to the library). I spent the time between getting back and going to the Mythbusters thing getting some dinner (which I ate out on the convention center's bayside terrace, which was a refreshingly quiet place compared to inside), exploring the other half of the exhibit hall, trying to find out where Shannon Hale was set up (I never found out), pre-registering for Comic-Con 2010 so I could get a 4-day ticket, and buying the things I wanted to buy. Then, as I said, I wasn't able to make the Mythbusters panel, so I left.

Once again, I managed to be pretty good about not buying a lot. I think I still spent close to $100 on stuff though. Here's what I bought:

- Plusule keychain - $9
- Amazing Agent Luna volumes 1-3 omnibus -$10
- PotterCast Tour 3 Poster - $5
- My Neighbor Totoro mascot small plushie with suction cup - $9
- Shaymin plushie - $20.81 ($19 + tax)
- Master Ball toy w/Squirtle ($15) , Lapras model kit ($5) , & 3-pack of Southern Islands cards ($1) - $22
- Two artbooks - Tales of Symphonia Illustrations: Kosuke Fujishima's Character Works (Japanese; $32) and The Art of Kiki's Delivery Service (English; $30) - $62

Oy! I just did the math, and that was $137.81! Maybe I did spend too much...*sweatdrop* Still, that's fairly modest considering how much I could've spent had I not controlled myself by making a list as I went along and going back for stuff later. I also paid for the Plusle keychain, Amazing Agent Luna volume, and My Neighbor Totoro plushie with cash, using my debit card for the others. Also, the fact that I got TWO artbooks for $62 is pretty good, seeing how high artbooks usually run.

This $137.81 total does not count food and travel expenses - the soda I bought at lunchtime (about $2 or $3), a trolley Day Pass ($5), a dinner of a drink and a hot dog (about $8), my Amtrak ticket ($16) and a can of soda and a bag of Cheetos on the train ($3.75) - which were all paid in cash except for my Amtrak ticket, which I used my debit card for. That comes to around $34.75.

This doesn't even count the $100 I spent to pre-register for next year! Agh!

*Sigh* I really must watch my money better. Although, I guess things like this add up, even if you don't spend much on things.

It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have a bunch of important things to get right now. I have to pay my parents rent, I need to buy my bus pass for August, and I put $5 on Wii Sports Resort. I'm going to call GameStop tomorrow and see if I can cancel my hold on the game. That's the only one of those three things I can give up.

I also need to call Gary, the guy who taught my spiritual gifts class. I need to call him during the day, and I haven't been able to do that this week with my crazy working hours (they switched departments on me so it got all weird, but this coming week it's back to normal). I get off at 2pm tomorrow though, so I can call him then. It's just that since we might be talking about some private stuff, I want to talk to him in private.

I also need to save money because I want to go to the San Diego Christian Writers' Guild conference in September. I just double-checked the dates - it's September 26 and 27 according to one site (I had to check a site other than SDCWG's site, because when I go to SDCWG's site, I get a page saying "this account has been suspended"). I have some time to recoup my losses and make the $165 needed for the conference.

Well that's pretty much it. Oh, one more thing. I had two happy surprises today. I found out this morning that my second TCG Feature article on The Pallet Tribune was up, which I did not know. I thought for sure the new features editor, Ducky-von-Karma, would send it back for me to edit (as KC did the first time), but he didn't. You can read that article here.

The second surprise came when I checked my e-mail after getting off work today. I got an e-mail saying my request to do a fanlisting on the Mamoru/Hina relationship had been approved! Hooray!

I have a month for each site to make it, so I need to start playing with phpFanlist (the script I'm using for my fanlistings) so I can get that site and my fanlisting for Hina herself done on time.

Ok I'm really going now. I'll post pics from Comic-Con as soon as my mom finds her camera USB cord, since I can't get the pictures off the camera and onto my computer without it. Bye!
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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Financial aid dilemma, summer class, mom hit by lightning video

I have a financial aid dilemma. I just found out that because I'm not enrolled in 6 units, my financial aid didn't pay out. That means I will probably have to pay it myself, and I don't have the money. I suppose I could enroll in another class to make my enrollment 6 units, but I checked and it doesn't look like there are classes that would fit my schedule.

My summer class started today. It looks like it will be interesting. It's about how sacred texts (primarily Muslim texts in this class) affect peoples' daily lives, about the development of our beliefs about Islam, and how Islam compares to Judaism and Christianity.

I had some other mishaps today. I got to the school Sprinter station only to remember that the school shuttle from the station doesn't run between 10:30-11:00 because the driver goes to lunch then, and had to wait for it. I went to the on-campus Starbucks to get a pastry, and all they had were everything bagels with cream cheese, so I got a small pack of shortbread cookies that for some reason weren't in their system (so they had to charge me for a banana). Then my soda exploded on me in class, getting all over my jeans.

On a less selfish note, check out this news video about a son who saved his mother from being struck by lightning -- in her kitchen!

Bye for now.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Jury duty, wanting to be a paralegal

Today I had to report to the court to do jury duty, and my name got called for a trial. I had been hoping my name wouldn't get called, but it did, and I ended up getting selected for the jury, meaning I have to go back tomorrow. Fortunately, the trial is supposed to end by tomorrow (I think) so that's good. But if I get out before the usual end time (4:30) I still have to go into work - Augie told me this when I called work to let them know I'd been put on a jury and had to serve tomorrow. So I have to dress for work tomorrow.

Due to the regulations jurors must follow, I can't talk about the details of the case right now. Afterwards, I'll likely blog about it, though.

For some reason, this sort of thing makes me really nervous. I'm not sure if it's just my extreme introverted nature or if it's the gravity of having to decide someone's fate with 11 total strangers. I did get really nervous during the jury selection questions.


On a related note, I saw a TV commercial the other day for some school with vocational degrees. The one featured was for paralegals. This is an occupation that came up in the top 10 occupations for me on the Strong Inventory, and one that I've had some interest in for awhile since I took a class in legal transcription and liked it.

After today, though, I am not sure I want to be a paralegal or in any law-related profession. Maybe I was spooked by the jury selection process, I don't know.

I keep telling myself - or my conscience does - to trust God with this whole career thing, but I just can't resist the need to plan ahead what field I want to go in after college as a fallback plan if my writing doesn't work out. I mean, it's good to plan ahead - I even asked my mom if this was the right thing, since I felt that maybe it meant I didn't trust God, and she said it was the right thing.

I'm hoping that the class I'm taking through church - called "Discover Your Spiritual Gifts" - will help give me direction. I may want to take some career inventories again (though I may end up with the same results as I did 3 years ago).

I just started re-reading the book Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey, a book I got about 3/4 of the way through before the powers that be at Loaves and Fishes wouldn't let me read while watching the front counter anymore. In it, Yancey talks about his study of Exodus and Leviticus and concludes that if God were to directly reveal his will to us to the same extent as he did to the Israelites back then, our following of him would be based more on obedience than faith. As Galatians 2:21 says, "I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose" (ESV). Or as the New Living Translation (a translation that the Bible I had in junior high was in) puts it: "I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die."

I am someone who tries to follow all the rules - at work, at school, in life. Since I am as falliable as everyone else, I fail often at this. It bugs the heck out of me.

When doing the spiritual gifts test for my class, though I didn't have the scoring sheet (the teacher has that, and he's going to help us score it next class meeting), I saw somewhat of a pattern emerging. I think that, as with the previous paper test I took, my #1 gift might be missionary. Now, I do enjoy learning about other cultures and I do well with languages. But I don't do well socially, and my school life going to a private Christian school that was predominantly white makes me rather ignorant in how to interact with those of different races and religions.

This semester, when they had a job fair at school, I went around the tables and picked up some flyers. One of the "businesses" there was the Peace Corps. I was looking at one of their flyers the other day and it said that one way to make you stand out as a candidate is to learn one year of French or two years of Spanish. This was followed by a comment stating "Currently, there is a much greater need for French speakers than for Spanish speakers."

That stood out to me because I am a French minor. So I have taken more than 1 year of French. The only one of their programs that I was interested in though was English Teaching, and you need tutoring experience for that. I got recommended as a tutor twice at MiraCosta and the one time I did apply I didn't get a tutoring job.

They also have a program that combines Peace Corps volunteering with grad school. Either you can do the Master's International program, where you go to school first and then volunteer, or Fellows/USA, where you volunteer first and then go to school.

I just don't know though - the volunteering alone is a 27 month commitment, which is a long time. Granted, three of those months you're in training, but still. I'd have to quit my current job to do it, since you can't get any other employment while on a leave of absence from Stater Bros.

Dang, career stuff is so dang difficult!!!!

Since leaving the courthouse, I haven't been able to relax. I don't know if it's the can of Coke I drank during the lunch break (Coke makes me a little ADD for some reason...yet I still drink it) or something else.

I think all this free time is driving me crazy, which may seem odd to anyone reading this. When I was in school, I felt there wasn't enough free time, but now that I have free time, I don't know what to do with myself.

I have been listening to the talks for Randy Ingermanson's Fiction 101 course (although I gave it a few days off, and then got frustrated with it because the tracks were playing in random order). I also am doing research for my current novel-in-progress, Darkly Bound. Today, I took some handwritten notes from a book called The Nomadic Alternative, which I got from the Cal State library. I got this book so I could research nomadic life as a basis for my witch-siren characters. It's interesting, but it was hard to find what would apply to me, so I went through the table of contents and marked the parts I thought might be relevant. I also did this for the other book I had with me, a book called The Gypsies, which is also for witch-siren research (the odd thing is, all I want to research is them and their culture, but books on this have been ridiculously hard to find). In the Gypsies book though, I marked certain pages of the bibliography (so I could find more and hopefully more relevant books) as well as a page in the index.

So far in my research I have researched London, mythology, and theater/drama terms (my main character is a stage manager at a theater). Aside from those and the nomad and Gypsies books, I found two great books on the behind-the-scenes workings of theaters: Theatrical Design and Production and a gem I hadn't found in my catalog searches, The Stage Management Handbook (which, though from 1992, should still provide some basic information).

I haven't decided what play the theater's last-ditch play will be. I'm tempted to do Macbeth, since many theaters in financial trouble will produce it to try to make revenue (yet another suggestive aspect of the "Macbeth curse"). But for the sake of my story I think it would be cool to do a play that sort of mirrors Avalon's own journey. I may have to make one up for the sake of the story. Just so I don't try to write my story to fit a theme (Randy Ingermanson says in his Theme talk that if you do that, you'll come off sounding preachy).

Randy Ingermanson also talks about your main character having a goal, and makes it sound like there should only be one. But right now my main character has three goals: break her curse, find her father, and keep the theater from going under. I can think of a good motivation for all three: a motivation of stability/order. I guess I can figure that out later though. (The first draft is meant to be chaotic, says Randy Ingermanson).

Gah!! I can't take this thinking anymore. It's making me worry too much. I'm going to go now. I don't want to stay up too late since I have court tomorrow. Good night!

Monday, June 29, 2009

I got a Wii!

Well, I have finally entered the new console generation. I traded in my GameCube for a Wii!

Here's some pics of the Wii (reduced in size):

The Box (though mine is preowned, it was in the original box)


The Wii itself


I hold up the Wiimote and Nunchuk


Ok, so the Wii isn't cordless.


With my dad's help, I got my TV, VCR, and the Wii all hooked up. I had problems setting up the internet on the Wii and getting it to read discs, but I solved those. The trouble was that the SSID for the internet connection was wrong, and I was putting the discs in the wrong way. It still won't read the first disc of Tales of Symphonia though. I just cleaned it with a soft cotton cloth and water, like Nintendo recommends, and we'll see what happens.

I didn't end up buying the Wii game I thought I would, because when I asked the guy at the video game store which was better, Wii Fit or EA Sports Active, he said Wii Fit, but Wii Fit costs $90 (since it comes with the Balance Board). There's a new Wii Fit game coming out in a few months though, Wii Fit Plus, so I may just wait for that. I checked out the used Wii games, and ended up getting one I'd read about in Nintendo Power and thought was interesting: Dragon Quest Swords: The Masked Queen and the Tower of Mirrors. It was cheap ($22.49 used, after the savings from the GameStop EDGE card they persuaded me to get), plus I like RPG's.

Here's a picture:


With the $10 from my GameCube trade-in and money saved from the GameStop EDGE card, the grand total was (after our city's ridiculously high sales tax of 9.25%, raised from the general state rate of 8.25%, due to our city needing revenue for a new City Hall) $248.05, less than the retail price of a new Wii system alone. Sometimes buying used pays off.

Recently, I subscribed to a site called Blogger Link Up which was recommended on a writing blog I read. I figured I could promote myself as a writer by doing some guest blogging, and Blogger Link Up - designed to link bloggers to other bloggers or to link bloggers to those who want to get bloggers' attention - helps one do that. I already got two guest blogging requests. One is for a upcoming satellite TV station called Punch TV. I'm not sure what I'd be blogging on for them though, since I said in my guest blogging request that I would be willing to blog about Christianity, Christian writing, or fiction writing. We also don't have satellite TV at home (we have digital cable).

The other was for a blog called Catholic Charismatic Prophecies, which asked me to do a book review. I don't have much experience doing reviews, though, and I'm neither Catholic nor Charismatic.

I sent polite e-mails to both these requests, not flat-out rejecting them, but to ask some questions to help determine whether I should blog for them or not.

I have to go do jury duty tomorrow, so I'm going to try not to stay up too late tonight. I also need to be sure I have my summons handy. So, good night!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

I beat the first Phoenix Wright game!

Yessss!! After what seems like forever of playing this game off and on, I finally beat it just moments ago!

For a while I didn't play it because I was stuck on the part of the DS-exclusive 5th case ("Rise from the Ashes") where you have to prove that the supposed "Blue Badger shadow" Ema Skye saw was actually the "unstable jar" you have in the Court Record. But, thankfully, I found a diagram online (as well as a screenshot) showing how to turn the jar so it proves that fact, and was able to move on and beat the game!

Here's the diagram:
And the screenshot:

Now, I confess, I did actually use a walkthrough on this game. The walkthrough said what statements to press in cross-examination and what evidence to present and when. It also said where to go, who to talk to, and what to do during investigation. But then, isn't that the same info that is included in official players' guides? I don't feel that I cheated. Some games - especially fantasy games - you can't get through very well without a little help. Players' guides are also useful for dungeon maps and to determine you've got all the items you need from a place (especially dungeons). They also often give advice on how to defeat bosses (very useful with the myriad of element-based bosses in Tales of Symphonia). The Tales of Symphonia players' guide also provides a full bestiary - useful in completing the Monster List.

Anyway, I was putting off playing the other Phoenix Wright game I own, Phoenix Wright: Trials and Tribulations, until I beat this game, so now I can play that one. That game's the third in the series, though, so I might want to get the second one (Phoenix Wright: Justice for All) and play it first. I don't know if it matters plot-wise or not. Then there's the newest game in the US, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, and the new Miles Edgeworth-themed spin-off (Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth) that was just recently released in Japan.

I am also considering getting a Wii. The game store by the movie theatre has preowned ones for $200 (about $50 cheaper than a new one, which would be a big savings if I bought a game also). It can play my GameCube games, so I wouldn't have to get rid of those. I would have to keep the GameCube memory cards I have, though, since GameCube games played on the Wii need GameCube memory cards to save, and since I'm not likely to find any for sale anymore, I might as well hold on to the ones I have, if they're usable. (I had one that got so messed up, I couldn't use it anymore, even though physically speaking it was fine). The trouble is, if the ones I have get messed up, I'm in a pickle.

Another benefit of a Wii is the fact that it is wireless - no cords! Since I can't even quite figure out how to plug my TV and VCR in to the nearest plug right now (since the plug's covered by my bookcase, which I had moved there when the carpet was replaced recently), I most certainly don't want a game system with lots of wires. I guess maybe I should figure out how to plug the TV in first, although I could just plug it in somewhere else in the room for a bit until I am able to plug it in behind the bookcase.

If I buy a Wii, I may buy a Wii game with it. I'm thinking something simple to start - Wii Fit, Wii Music, or EA Sports Active. Although Wii Fit requires that you buy that heavy, humongous Balance Board too (which can also be used to help simulate a drum kit in Wii Music). EA Sports Active is usable right out of the box, with the extra equipment (leg bands and a resistance band) packaged with the game. So I may get that one. I need the exercise.

Well that was pretty much all I was going to say. Bye!

Monday, June 15, 2009

I need to slow down, but I can't

The last few days I have been very restless. My mind can't stay on one thing very long - even when I'm working on focused work like I did last night making the last part of Act 25 of the Dark Mercury Arc Fandub Project, my mind feels like it's going in all directions at once. It's like ADD, except that I can actually sit still and still have this happen.

I tried going to bed earlier last night, since I was really tired and figured I needed a good night's sleep. I went to bed about 10:30 p.m. and got up at 8 a.m. But I am still restless today.

It could be my period; I'm always really restless on the first day of it and sometimes before.

I do admit I have been having trouble getting more sleep since school let out; even on days I'm off or when I get off work early in the day (as has been happening now that they're splitting me between bakery and grocery), I have found myself staying up till 1am.

I also paid for access to a download site so I could get this torrent of the Wedding Peach omake (since the person whose Veoh channel I was watching that series on doesn't have the second part of the first omake or the second omake uploaded) and then I had to install this program and I still couldn't get to the file. I regret dropping $35 on this stupid thing, but I don't think I can take it back.

I've also been working on my websites. My personal site is up. Its URL is My author site is almost ready; I just need to decide what content the "unpublished works" section will have. I also need to figure out how to make my contact and newsletter forms work. I'm very inexperienced with more complex HTML such as forms. In fact, I had a hard enough time with the DIV layout I made (and it only looks good in Internet Explorer; I tested it in Firefox, Opera, and Safari, and it looks bad in those...I don't think Firefox can read CSS). The contact form (the HTML for which I got from a book) has to be linked to a CGI file, which I don't know how to make. The newsletter one is linked to, the site I am sending my newsletter through (I was beginning to think I wouldn't be able to because the "e-mail broadcasting" option was disabled under my free trial, but then I called their tech support and the guy helped me out and upgraded my account for me so the broadcasting would work. I still have to pay $29.99 a month or something like that for the service, but it does have a very nicely made service, and Randy Ingermanson recommends it).

I also used the free Google External Keyword Tool that Randy Ingermanson recommended to generate META tag keywords for both my sites, which helped a lot. Though my hosting site ( sells a product that can submit your site to a bunch of search engines, it's an expensive thing (comes to $86.28 for the year!) so I think I will handle that myself. If I can get my sites listed through the Open Directory Project that will help (although it took them forever to list me last time, so maybe not).

I've got to leave for work now, but I'll post more later.

Friday, May 29, 2009

An amazing discovery

I have made an amazing discovery. I thought I was alone as a Christian who liked to write fantasy and science fiction. There certainly wasn't anybody in my life I could talk to about it.


When leafing through the websites section at the back of my copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Christian Fiction, I saw a link to a website called Where the Map Ends. (I also found the link to Randy Ingermanson's site there, which I visited not long ago - I was pleasantly surprised to learn Ingermanson is a Christian). Anyway, I went to this site, and through it found a deluge of other stuff about writing Christian "speculative fiction" (the catch-all publishing category for fiction "speculating" about different worlds than ours, such as sci-fi, fantasy, and alternate history). I even joined two forums I found through this searching: The Anamoly, the official forum of Where the Map Ends, and Christian Anime Alliance, a forum about anime and manga for Christians. There was even a thread in The Anamoly about the problem of whether to use magic in Christian fantasy (which I also saw a good article about on some other site), an issue I've been struggling with myself.

Even though it wasn't the greatest day today - I hurt my foot at work and the side of my left foot is throbbing as I type this - I am happy because I feel like I have made a breakthrough. It's almost like an answer to prayer, though I don't remember specifically praying for this. I know I prayed for career guidance, but not quite like this.


In other news:

As I said, I hurt my foot. I tripped, except I didn't trip on anything or over anything - my foot just sort of tilted (it does that sometimes). My mom says it's my shoes. I'm going to go look for new work shoes tomorrow, regardless of how my foot feels (because my mother will make me go regardless).

I also have to clean my room tomorrow, although the floor is pretty much clean except for some laundry on the floor. I can't even do my laundry tomorrow because the guys currently working on our house pulled out the washer and dryer, so they're not hooked up for use right now. Because I didn't keep my end of the bargain with my parents and consistently keep my room clean, my rent got raised. I get paid tomorrow so I should have enough money to pay the higher rent for June and still have money left over, even though I made some big purchases recently (like some manga, a ridiculously high $50 for an online career test that really didn't do anything for me, and of course, my new iPod).

When I bought my manga, I also bought a book called The Writer's Complete Fantasy Reference. I have been reading it through, even though you're not supposed to do that with "reference" books. But it's my first time through, so I don't know what info in it might be of use to me. Compiled by editors for Writers Digest and with a very nice introduction by fantasy fiction legend Terry Brooks, it's a pretty useful book. I don't really see anything in it of too much use to me specifically at the moment, but it's much more digestible than Orson Scott Card's How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy, a book considered a must-read for aspiring sci-fi and fantasy writers (a book I didn't understand at all, which might be because I haven't read any of Card's novels). It is, like it sounds, a reference book. It contains a whole chapter on magic, for example, and one on witchcraft (which provides a rather thorough treatment of Wicca, more so I think than what I read in the Christian book Dewitched: What You Need to Know About the Dangers of Wicca and Witchcraft). There's also info on armor and armies, weapons, and even fantasy races (in which they blame Tolkien for the current stereotypes of many of the races listed, especially elves and dwarves).

I also came across a site when I was browsing Where the Map Ends on my iPod this morning while waiting for the bus (one of the rare places besides my house where I can get our home wifi signal) that provides a program for mapmaking. It's targeted mostly toward RPG makers, but is supposed to be useful for authors too. The site is called ProFantasy Software and its main mapmaking program is called Campaign Cartographer (the current version being Campaign Cartographer 3). They also have a bunch of add-ons to this program, including a sci-fi add-on called Cosmographer Pro that lets you create galaxies and spaceships. You have to pay for the software, I think, but they have demos you can download, so I may do this if I decide I need to. I read on some site (Holly Lisle's, I think) that it's good to draw a map of your world if you're writing fantasy, but I stink at drawing and know nothing about cartography (mapmaking).

I'm also trying to decide which I like better, fantasy or sci-fi. Fantasy is easier for me to write because I've read a lot of fantasy. But I have attempted sci-fi mainly because I like technology and computers. (I have only seen one story that combined fantasy with technology in a cool way - the game Tales of Symphonia, with its magitechnology, technologically created things that were magic because they required mana to function). You can't really introduce technology into a fantasy world because of the tradition of medieval settings for fantasy. The only way to do it is through the alternate-universe idea (à la Philip Pullman) or through fantasy steampunk, in which case the technology has to be steam-powered due to the typical Victorian or Edwardian setting of steampunk.

I also am not sure about my decision to set my sci-fi novels in London; it seemed like a logical place at the time, mainly because the UFG or United Federation of Galaxies - which I am now calling the UIIC or United Interplanetary and Intersidereal Council, to avoid legal difficulties with Star Trek canon (which has a United Federation of Planets) - was going to be part of the plot, and a big city like London seemed like a logical place for it to be based. (Then again, Star Trek's United Federation of Planets is based in San Francisco).

I am somehow reluctant to write about the area in which I actually live, because to my knowledge nothing much of note has happened historically in the San Diego area, other than the city of San Diego being the site of the first mission founded by Junípero Serra, San Diego de Alcala. But then I guess I'm not writing historical fiction, am I?'s late. I should go to bed now. Good night.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New iPod, website stuff, career thoughts

Well, thankfully, after my Nano broke, I had enough money to replace my iPod right away, and so I IPOD TOUCH! Yay! For around $295, I got an 8G iPod Touch, a hard case, and a set of screen protectors (I'm not taking any chances).

I got the Touch because of the ability to have apps. That was something I wish I had on my Nano. I saw the iPhone commercials that advertised the apps, and I really wanted them. I tried not to go overboard buying apps, but with some of those combined with some American Idol songs I bought, I spent about $40, according to my last iTunes receipt! So I have to be careful from now on.

They have so many apps in the App Store on iTunes (the iPod Touch itself actually comes with the App Store on it as well, but it's not identical to the one on iTunes). Some of them (especially the games) are really weird. I guess this is what happens when you let just anyone create an app.

A good number of the apps cost money, though most of them don't cost that much (they're usually in the 99¢-$2.99 range). The only expensive ones are some of the games, like Cake Mania 3 and Dance Dance Revolution S, as well as some of the higher-end productivity or business apps. There are a lot of free ones as well, though most of the free ones are "lite" versions (demos, basically) of paid apps -- although that is kind of nice in case you're not sure you want to buy an app. There are many free apps that are not demos though, such as the Facebook app (one of the first I downloaded) and the app (which lets you look up words even without wifi on -- which is really nice).

One of the coolest things about the iPod Touch though is that IT CAN GO ONLINE. It uses wi-fi to do this, and the wifi is free as far as I can tell. Granted, I can't always get a wifi signal. (I downloaded an app called "WiFi Trak" that can tell you what wifi networks are in the area, which should help, since the iPod's regular wifi settings don't always detect all the networks around). To my mother, this is the coolest thing about the device. I find it cool too, though the internet has limits compared to surfing the internet on my laptop. For one, it's sometimes hard to click links on a page because the writing is often so small (you can zoom the screen though, or turn the iPod sideways, which makes it get bigger). Also, although the iPod Touch comes with a separate little YouTube thing (separate from the iPod's default web browser, Safari), you can't do all the things you would normally do on YouTube with it (like check your inbox or anything else specific to your account). It's good for just watching clips though, if anything, and you can still search for videos.

I am pretty satisfied with the apps I have downloaded, though I've deleted some I realized weren't useful. I also deleted the DDR game because it was too hard (I'm not good at regular DDR anyway). I have yet to find a good app for blogging on this blog on the go (I'm trying a lite version of an app right now that supports Blogger, but I can't quite figure out how it works). At present, the apps I have on my iPod are:
  • Facebook - Like the YouTube thing, this app doesn't let you do every single thing you can do on the regular Facebook. It does let you see your news feed, profile, friends, and inbox, as well as chat and change your status and photo on the go, though, so it's pretty decent. (Half the time all I do on Facebook is change my status once and a while and check my inbox and fan pages). Plus, it's free!
  • AIM - There are two apps for AIM, the paid version and the free version. The free version has ads, otherwise it's exactly the same as the paid version. I went ahead and paid the $2.99 needed for the paid version because I didn't want ads. It basically lets you IM on the go (I haven't IM'd anybody from it yet though).
  • Yahoo! Messenger - I only started using Yahoo! Messenger because I had a friend who had an MSN account and couldn't use AIM. This is a free app, unlike AIM, and pretty much has the usual features of YIM.
  • LinkedIn - I couldn't believe this app was free! Basically, this app works similar to the Facebook app in that it simulates a social networking site, in this case LinkedIn, a social network for those looking for work to connect with employers. It's pretty cool.
  • BlogWriter Lite - This is that Blogger-supporting app I was telling you about. I haven't quite figured out how it works (for one, it says this blog has 0 posts, which is far from true!). This app also lets you subscribe to RSS feeds, though I may end up doing that with this free app called Daisy Feed I'm thinking of downloading later.
  • YouSave! Lite - A "lite" version of a paid app that I'm trying out. This app allows you to put in the regular price of something that's marked down, then its discount percentage. When you do, the app will tell you how much the discounted price of the item will be! Nifty, huh? I'm a bargain person, so it's a great thing to have.
  • Mobile News and Video - Basically what it sounds like. I know my dad would want this app - he's a big fan of Consumer Reports. It's useful if you want to buy something but you're not sure what brand or something like that.
  • Now Playing - Basically lets you find movie times and such, also lets you see movie releases on DVD. Pretty cool.
  • Library - A cool app with a cute icon (a little teddy bear with books - go here to see it). Using your current location, it helps you find libraries near you. It's from a developer called DoubleTapApps, all of whose apps are targeted to families with young kids. I tried it, it basically puts pins in a map for the libraries near you based on your current location (apparently the iPod Touch has limited GPS capabilities -- not as much capability as the iPhone though). And like I said, the icon is really cute.
  • Pedometer - This is one of the first apps I downloaded, and it's really useful. It counts your steps, like a pedometer usually does, and counts the calories burned. You can also keep a log of your daily totals. The first day I used it, I walked over 4,000 steps!
  • MyGrades Lite - I'm going to try this out with my summer class to see if I want to get the full version for fall. Basically, you put in your assignments and what you got on them, and the app calculates your grade in the class. It's really nice to know where you're at, especially around test time.
  • iHomework - Basically an app that acts as a school planner. It got really good reviews on iTunes. It was only 99¢ too. If it works out, I won't have to buy a planner for school, meaning one less thing to carry in my backpack.
  • Classics - This 99¢ app was rated high in the Books section of the App Store. It was also featured in the "Read" iPhone commercial. Basically, it lets you read classic books. It comes with a preloaded selection of books that I assume can be updated as they update the app. The books appear as covers on a bookshelf, then you can open them and read them like a real book, à la Kindle. (There's actually a real Kindle app in the App Store too - and it's free, so I may try it).
  • Pollen Journal Lite - The lite version of an app that lets you know the pollen count near you and keep track of your allergy symptoms. This is a nice app for me because I am allergic to pollen. Supposedly, using the journal function helps the app to determine which types of pollen allergens you are very allergic to. Pretty cool.
  • French-English Dictionary - Yay! I am so happy there is an app for this. I use all the time, especially for looking up French words. And it was free too, amazingly enough. It will be nice to have this on the go, especially since both of the French teachers I've had so far at CSUSM don't like you to use laptops in class.
  • - Basically an app version of the famous dictionary website. It also features thesaurus capabilities. As I said before, you can search for words without having wifi on; some of the capabilities, like Word of the Day, do require wifi though. Still, pretty cool, and FREE.
  • WiFiTrak - A really decent app for finding a wifi signal wherever you are. This is nice because the default wifi settings on the iPod Touch don't always detect all nearby networks.
  • IndieBound - This is a quirky little free app developed by the American Booksellers Association. It basically gives you book recommendations from indie bookstores (and if you like a book, the app will link you to the site of an indie bookstore where you can get it), as well as providing a book search and a location-based indie business finder (it can find more than just indie bookstores). That's pretty neat. As a former employee of an indie bookstore, I'm definitely all for supporting indie businesses.
  • Urbanspoon is an app I read about in Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine. Basically, based on your location and info you give it (like that you want an Italian restaurant), it finds restaurants for you. Pretty cool, no?
  • Tennis ATP/WTA is an app that provides pro tennis scores, which I find interesting only because tennis is the only pro sport I ever watch by myself (I'll watch baseball if my dad or brother is watching it and I'm eating dinner or something), and not even that often.
  • France24 Live - This is an interesting app. It lets you watch live news video in English, French, or Arabic in a variety of categories. When I first tried it, I watched a report from the Cannes Film Festival. I figure watching this will help with my French (I know that watching subtitled anime helped my Japanese pronunciation, so hopefully this will help my French pronunciation).
  • Newsdesk - A pretty basic app that gives you the top headlines in a nice skim-able format. Nice way to keep up on what's going on in the world. You can skim world news, Science and Technology news, and Entertainment news with this app. It's viewable without wi-fi on, but you need wi-fi on to update it.
  • - A news app for the French newspaper Le Monde. Again, like NewsDesk, you can view it without wifi on, but you need wifi to update it. I figured I should read news in French to keep my skills up.
  • K-WAVE - An app that lets you listen to K-WAVE, a Christian station based around here.
  • Y! Music - An app for Yahoo! Music and its radio thing, Launch.
  • Pandora - A free (!?) app for the famous internet radio site Pandora.
  • Pinball - The most basic pinball game I could find. I don't need fancy stuff, I just wanted to play pinball, so I got this.
  • iMahjong Premium - I'm a big fan of computer mahjong, and have been since way back when I had the PC game Taipei on my Windows 3.1-running computer (which was in the early '90's). This game has really nice graphics and is pretty easy to play. It does also have a hint system if you get stuck, which is really nice.
  • MiniShogi - I have decided I want to try to learn shogi, or Japanese chess. I haven't played this game yet but it looks interesting.
  • SmartGo - Aside from shogi, I've also decided I want to learn to play the Asian board game go. I read the tutorial and it sounds easy and hard at the same time. It's sort of like checkers or chess in that there's white and black pieces and you try to capture your opponents' pieces, but other than that, it's unlike any board game I've ever played.
  • Solitaire - You can't go wrong with Solitaire. This is always a nice game to play if you need to kill time.
  • Jeopardy! - Basically an iPod version of the classic game show.
  • EvilOverlord - An app created by Thomas Cherry that displays "rules" from the famous Evil Overlord List. The app also allows you to create a to-do list of evil schemes and send an "emergency beacon" (basically a location-based thing showing where you are) to alert your henchmen of your current location. I'm a big fan of the Evil Overlord List, so I definitely wanted to get this.
I am working on websites at present. I decided to make my personal and writing sites separate. I also made a simple website for nalyd1996's Sailor Stars fandub. I got some work on my personal site done last night, since they sent me home early from work (probably because it was a holiday and they couldn't afford to pay everyone the extra money they get on holidays). It was frustrating because I kept thinking the site looked too plain. But I want to link to the fanlistings I want to make using this site, and one of the rules at is that you must prove you have HTML and graphics experience by making a website that is entirely your own work and providing them with the URL before you can apply for a fanlisting. So no pre-made layouts, basically. Plus, I like to do the sites entirely myself. (Granted, for the DIV layers, I used code my best friend showed me and which I still had in a Notepad document on my computer, since I'm not good at DIV layers yet). I'm not sure how I'm going to show graphics experience. I could make a banner, I guess, but I don't know how to make those big top banners people use now. I tried to do a big image like has, but it didn't work. I'll try to make something.

My personal site is going to be called Still Waters, after Psalms 23:2-3, which says, "He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake." It has a blue theme.

My writing site (which I may use a pre-made layout on to make it look more professional, at least till I can get more web design skills) will be called Forest of Light, after the elves' home in my Walden stories. It's also got a verse tied to it: "Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel" (Isaiah 44:23). This makes me think of how things must've been after the Great War (the name of which I may change). It will have a forest theme, and to this effect I took several pictures of trees on my cell phone to use in the design.

I made a banner for Still Waters just now using my trial of Paint Shop Pro 7 (which I prefer to the new Paint Shop Pro; I have the CD for 7 but I can never get it to install right on my laptop) and it actually looks pretty good. I picked a color that fits into my color scheme, and by choosing certain stroke and fill colors and a texture, ended up with text that has a faded look, which is pretty cool. I made one the size of a blog header, which is big enough for me. I did have to move my other layers (my links, iframe, and a layer I put the Psalms 23 verse in) down a few pixels so they wouldn't be too close to the banner. But it looks fine.

I thought last night that maybe I should consider a career in web design, since I like making websites. MiraCosta has a certificate program in Web Design. But I don't know if my current major would work for that sort of job. I guess it would since I'm emphasizing in writing. I may need to talk to a career counselor about this. Because if I need to change my major, it would be better to do it now while it's still early.

Well, I want to go out and do some stuff today, since I'm off of work and some guys are working on our house anyway. Bye!