Monday, August 02, 2010

Financial aid, web stuff, Comic-Con freebies, etc

I am fed up right now with my school's Financial Aid department. I filled out my FAFSA by the priority filing date and turned in all the required paperwork before the first fees due date. Yet I already got dropped from my classes once and had to re-enroll (because my financial aid paperwork, which I turned in a couple days before the fees due date, hadn't finished processing yet) and when I called them today to find out what was going on, since I'd been receiving incessant e-mail reminders of the upcoming second fees due date (on the 5th), they said I didn't have a fee deferment on record and they couldn't tell me whether my stuff had processed. Darn FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) I guess. (Not that the guy I talked to gave that as the reason, but it makes sense). Worst case scenario is that I will have to get a loan, which even if it's only for one year of college will probably still take me years to pay off. The Financial Aid guy recommended Sallie Mae, but I already know from my mother's bad experience with Sallie Mae over her student loans that I don't want to get a loan through them. My mother says there are other options for loans though. But as I said, that's the worst case scenario -- hopefully, I'll get the same grants as before and be covered for the school year. Plus if I get grants until I (hopefully) graduate next spring, I'll graduate college without owing a dime for my schooling (since you don't have to pay back grants). Granted (ha ha no pun intended), I won't be done with my web design certificate (since I just started that last spring and can only really take 2 classes at a time on top of my CSUSM workload). But I suppose I can work at Stater Bros. for a little longer till I finish that. If I'm still working there by the time I graduate college, I'll have worked there almost 4 1/2 years. (Wow).

I've been working a lot on websites this summer, mostly on Myu Corner since I post updates for it weekly -- a Song of the Week update on Thursdays (which apparently some people doubt will work in the long-term, according to some comments that never saw the light of day because Akismet marked them as spam; to be honest I have no idea how many myu songs there are and I would very much not like to try counting them all, so I don't know how long that feature will be able to go for) and a site updates roundup on Sundays. I also made a personal site/domain hub that I liked when I made it but then disliked soon after. I like the idea of a personal site but I also recall the thing I read about the personal site being dead. Most people's personal sites now are their blogs (and in fact, I listed this blog as my personal site for a long time). I just can't figure out how to make one work. I want to use my personal domain as a hub for more minor sites that don't need their own domain though, like the LAR Productions website (though if LAR ever goes pro or at least gets big, I'm going to get the site its own domain). I am starting to think something along the lines of Frozen Wings or the "Tour Guide's Sites" page on Bunny's Tour Through the Silver Millennium would be better.

As for other sites, I have been ignoring my writing site improvement (which isn't officially live yet), though I am collecting feedback from some people on it which I intend to try implementing ASAP. I closed, my PotterCast Acting Troupe fansite, because I was grasping at straws trying to get news to post there (even after the live show with the Acting Troupe). I haven't started working on my planned sites, like Sparkle Moon, yet. I hoped to get that done in the summer, but work has interfered a lot, I think.

I went to Comic-Con a couple weeks ago. It was pretty fun, though I admit going even three of the four days was somewhat exhausting, even though due to my reliance on public transit, I was only able to stay for like five hours each day. Plus I spent WAY too much money, resulting in me being nearly broke last week and this week, since I didn't get paid last Friday because I took Comic-Con week as vacation. I did like going more than one day though; it feels like you get more out of it in a way. I have already begun planning for next year, since I was vastly underprepared this year. I'm going to try to get a four-day pass again, get a hotel (probably in North County near a train station since the convention hotels are super expensive) so I can stay later than the bus schedule for the bus by my house allows, and budget my time and money more wisely. One way I know I can budget my time is to explore beyond the exhibit hall. Let me tell you: one day in the exhibit hall is really enough, unless you know someone you want to see is not going to be there all four days. Not much changes from day to day, other than that you might see booths you didn't see the day before (this happened to me on the second day because I'd been in such huge crowds the first day I didn't see much). I am going to try to hit the panels, the film festival, and the anime showings more next year -- since, aside from being a nice escape from the crowd (unless you're in a really crowded panel) are all free to go to as long as you have a convention badge.

While I did spend a ton of money at the con (and frankly didn't buy that much), I did end up with 149 freebies (I counted), most of which I picked up on Saturday, my last day and the day I was trying desperately not to spend more money. I swear, there are people just dying to push a freebie in your hand at this con. I got things like temp tattoos (and a rather icky but semi-intriguing comic called Penny for Your Soul about a Las Vegas casino hotel run by demons) that I didn't even want. One of my freebies is even worth something now: my free sampler of Eragon, obtained from the Random House booth, which now bears the illustrious autograph of Eragon's author, Christopher Paolini (if I'd known beforehand he was going to be doing a signing, I would've brought my real Eragon books, but I didn't know, so I had him sign the sampler instead). I went through my freebies today to decide which ones I wanted to save and which ones I didn't -- and there were a lot of ones I didn't, probably ones I grabbed on a whim but didn't really look at. I didn't even keep any of the magazines I got for free, including the collector's cover edition of TV Guide with the Big Bang Theory cover. I did read through them before tossing them. I didn't get much from the special TV Guide (not like TV Guide is deeply intellectual reading anyway), though from it I was able to get an idea for the extremely complex plots of The Vampire Diaries and Supernatural, shows I do not watch and don't have much interest in watching. I did tear a few pages out of the others that I found interesting.

The one freebie that did pique my interest perhaps more than the others was a flyer for Animé Los Angeles, a con happening next January. (Their use of the accent above the "e" in "anime" reminds me of the early days of anime fandom in the US, when everyone was doing that). I was not aware this con existed; I figured there were no anime cons in LA other than Anime Expo. From the FAQ-style info on the back, I was rather intrigued. It actually sounds like a con I would want to go to. It's only for a weekend, and it's right after New Year's, so I wouldn't have to work around school (because I'd be on semester break) and thus wouldn't have to waste my available vacation time. It's at the LAX Marriott, which is convenient should I decide to fly to LA rather than take the train (my other option). You can get a deal on the hotel and the price for the actual con is really reasonable ($40 for the weekend, or $35 for students or military until September 30; they also provide a limited-time code to use to get 10% off). I'll have to think about it.

Oh and among the interesting things Animé Los Angeles has to offer is something really out there: Cosplay Chess. Basically real cosplayers are the pieces in this chess game and they actually put on an act when they are "captured." Even if I didn't participate, I'd want to watch.

Oh and Gina Biggs is the Artist Guest of Honor because of her webcomic "Red String." But guess what else she's known for? The long-lived Sailor Moon fansite Bunny's Tour Through the Silver Millennium! It would be cool to meet her.

I am considering starting a blog about my experiences as a female gamer. I was thinking also of maybe having a similar one about reading, but then decided there are blogs enough about that. Someone on the writers' forum I'm a part of mentioned how the gaming community is mostly unreached for Jesus (as part of a post regarding Westboro Baptist Church people picketing outside of Comic-Con with signs that say "God Hates Nerds"...gah, when will these people stop?), and that gave me a different spin on it. I don't know if I could make it work as a ministry though. That's one of those things I'd have to seek God about.

Speaking of blogs, I got an e-mail today granting me full writer privileges over at Family of Moonlight, a Sailor Moon fan blog that I sent Comic-Con pictures to and wrote a Comic-Con 2010 overview for. Sweet! This just goes to prove what I read a while back in an article about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) where they mentioned that one way to get yourself out there is to do things for people. That's what got me my staff position at Miss Dream; I offered on their forum (where I am an active member) to scan and translate the French Sailor V manga, since I own it. I also offered to translate their lyrics translations into French. The manga thing was originally just going to be a joint Myu Corner-Miss Dream project, and the lyrics thing a sort of freelance affair, so I was quite surprised when the head of Miss Dream deemed me worthy to join their staff. I am happy that both of these sites have given me these honors. (Gah, there's no way to say that without it sounding arrogant. Oh well).

I have been thinking about cosplay too, mainly because of Comic-Con and also because I just added a cosplay-item-selling site to my links at Myu Corner. I don't know who I'd cosplay as if I went to an anime convention. I suppose you don't have to cosplay (I've never cosplayed even at Comic-Con), not to mention that the amount of characters I could pull off is limited, but it's fun to do. If I did Sailor Moon, I'm thinking maybe Sailor Pluto, one of my favorite senshi, or Sailor Jupiter, who I somewhat physically resemble. Technically, Mercury is my favorite senshi overall (Pluto being #2) but I've never really considered cosplaying as her. I guess it could work. Pluto and Jupiter work because I am tall and have long hair like them. Plus they are selling a really nice Garnet Rod at the aforesaid cosplay site, a lot nicer than my idea for a homemade one (making the key sides and the top with the orb in it and sticking them on a long broom handle). Other than that, I'm a little stuck for ideas; most of the female characters I can think of with my figure (5'8", 200+ lbs, with a chest) dress rather scantily, and I'm very uncomfortable about showing more skin than is necessary. The only option I can think of is Chun-Li from Street Fighter (I certainly have the thighs for it). Any suggestions are welcome.

Other than web stuff, I've been playing some video games. It's taking me forever to beat the second battle on Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love. I finally figured out how to beat the main battle, but I keep losing to the extremely powerful boss Kokuryu, who pilots the dragon-like robot Kusakage. I've played the battle 6 times. Maybe I'll get lucky sometime.

Okay I can't think of anything else to write. My parents will probably leave soon for their home Bible study, and when they do, I'm going to try to watch Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief downstairs where there's a DVD player (I can watch DVD's on my laptop, but I've found I enjoy watching DVDs on a TV screen I can sit far from more than watching them on the computer). Goodbye for now!
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