Every major turning point in my life (Marist, St. Norbert, Sophia) was a pretty definitely positive one, bringing nice eustress and an exciting new place to explore (Chicago, Wisconsin, Japan). The trend ended with my _return_ to Wisconsin a little over a year ago. I’ve been whining about this for a while but finally I’m approaching another turning point and it looks to be a pleasant one. Wait, I should probably try to look at this past year more fairly. Firstly, I’ve been able to become closer to a lot of pretty excellent people: Hiroko’s at the top of that list in huge Sharpie. I got to reconnect with cousin Stephen. Also Jon and Ben, Peter, Oshkoshians hachi, Ann, and Brian, random Green Bay geeks Matt and Don, various IRC folk, including most recently and quite especially [Jules]. One of the major reasons for my recent relative happiness, outside of excitement about moving, is Project Soft Landing, a really mind-bending exercise in geekiness between Jules and me which you’ll be hearing about later. In addition to all that, I suppose this time has been a decent rest from adventures, and has allowed me to figure out what’s next. Had you asked me a while ago, I would have wanted to stay in Tokyo forever. I admit that’s still an alluring idea, but it’s likely that disenchantment would occur after living there for a couple of years. Indeed Hiroko seems right when she suggests that an annual visit to Japan would keep it fresh and appealing more than would living there. Seeking out new places would be better, and being here has let me find out which new place is next: Portland. I have been emailing back and forth with a guy about a low-paying but apparently otherwise rewarding Python programming job in Portland. I gave myself a crash-course in Python (which incidentally has made Project Soft Landing possible) and put together a demonstration for him. That situation could still go either way. But even without a job, I’m going, and Peter has pinky-sworn to come with me, at least on a trial basis. The moment he did, much of the apprehension I’d had about moving disintegrated. Hiroko and Ann both plan to come join me as soon as they can. It’s going to be excellent: having a challenging job, taking the rail around town, listening to my favorite music, shopping for obscure Japanese things, reading my book in one of a bajillion parks, working on code in some wireless-enabled joint. It’s good that I have a trip to DC, two RUSH concerts, and lots of planning to keep me moving around until then. Well, that’s much of what’s been going on in my head lately. It’s kind of nice to type it out. : http://www.livejournal.com/users/julsey
Archive for May, 2004
Here’s another lovely warning sign for your collection. I imagine one sadistic guy grinningly sitting in front of a copy of Illustrator cranking these things out every day for various companies. It was pretty impressive to watch Hiroko’s parents interact with all of these cool people here in the USA. Rather than just a sightseeing-tour of tourist attractions, we also gave them a friendship-tour of really great people. First my parents, then Betty and Steve, then Peter’s whole family when we went to their house for a barbecue after the graduation, welcomed them really warmly and became friends right away. Interpreting was fun, and I gained a refreshed appreciation for every person involved.
Well, Hiroko’s parents came to the USA to see her graduation, and I took some days off from work to cart them around. Hiroko worked out a packed itinerary for their five-day trip, including driving to Chicago and back twice. When they arrived we visited the Art Institute, then took them to my house to meet my parents, have a mini-Thanksgiving dinner, exchange gifts, and be interpreted back and forth between Japanese and English by Hiroko and me. The next day my Nissan Maxima whisked us away to Green Bay, where Hiroko’s parents presented me with a lovely white Segasaturn and a copy of Xenosaga Freaks, _with_ the bonus preorder disc! **GET!** That evening we met up with Hiroko’s friend Betty from her art classes, who is actually a semi-pro artist and who, with her husband Steve, just bought 70 acres of land way out in the Wisconsin countryside. They took us there to let Hiroko’s dad enjoy some gun-shooting and to wander around in the woods and get covered in ticks which we’d be picking off of ourselves for days to come. Here’s a random deer skeleton we found in the woods when Betty and Steve’s dog started trying to chew on it.
I knew I needed a US-version PS2 for when we moved out and I could no longer use Jon’s to play SSX3, Timesplitters 2, or R-Type Final (OMGWTF teh R-Type funz0r :D~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~). I wished all the cool-colored Japanese ones had been out when I bought mine, so that I could have two distinct PS2s. How pleasantly surprised I was to find out that there was a Limited Edition out in the US as well, including this attractive white model. I eBayed for it and won, at a premium, shortly before normal black PS2s (with network adapters, urgh) dropped to $150. Was it worth it? I’m not sure yet. It _is_ very cute. All I need now is the pink Dreamcast…..
This is one of my favorite books of all time. About a month ago, if you were to ask me for an example of something Japanese that would never, ever get translated into English, it’s likely I would have said this comic. Even in the weird circumstances that could bring this out in English, I’d’ve expected things like MONSTER or 20th Century Boys or even Saishuu Heiki Kanojo to get here first. And yet, here it is. I can’t even begin to tell you how surreal it is to find Hitsuji no Uta books at Bay Park Square mall in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In fact, the feeling is somewhat reminiscent of the one I had when, at a Book-Off in Nakano or somewhere, I found a manga about the Chicago Bulls’ road to the NBA championship, complete with tiny little manga Michael Jordan and manga Scottie Pippen speaking Japanese. Somewhat.
Here’s a fraction of my Sakura Taisen gacha-gacha collection. I finally found a suitable display case for them, and used the multi-level bottom of the little display cases Hiroko got me at the 100-yen shop inside of this case to elevate some figures. Elmer’s Tack is used to keep them all in position. I need to get one more of these cases for the remaining ST gacha-gachas, use the remains of the 100-yen cases for the ST3 series, and then start worrying about my ~10″ figures and how I’m going to store them, and then finish building and painting my Koubu models and figure out how I’m going to display _them_. For a hobby I never consciously decided to start, this is turning into a lot of work.
Now, AT&T likes to spam me on my phone a lot, but this is ridiculous. I actually have no explanation for this screen. I only had one message.
Something that bothers me, and this is somewhat inspired by [Tom]’s recent “Things I Hate” entry, is when advertisements not only insult my intelligence, but insult people around me. This is a subtle thing, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it if I hadn’t lived in Japan for a year. Let me splain. In Japan it’s really important to show respect, not only in one-on-one situations, but in group-to-group situations. You should speak respectfully of others’ families, friends, companies, or other groups, while being modest about your own. So when you see advertisements, they are always in a very respectful tone. It’s hard to translate them into English without sounding dumb, but things like “a nice toothbrush for your honorable family” are the norm. Well, that sounds extremely dumb. The point is that the companies use very respectful language, or at least avoid bringing up anything unpleasant, especially anything unpleasant about the customer. The contrast to this is commercials I hear on US radio or see on US television, or billboards I pass on the highway: now, not only are most of them very, very stupid and annoying, but in addition, a recurring theme is making fun of certain types of people. Spouses, in-laws, and other relatives are particularly common targets. The example that comes to mind is an obnoxious commercial on WTAQ here in Wisconsin, which I have to listen to at work, in which they offer to help you with challenges in your life, but insist that they can’t do anything about your brother-in-law’s disgusting eating habits. To most people this is probably funny, or at worst annoying, but to me it’s actually pretty offensive. Not only do I have to listen every thirty minutes to a guy asking for someone else’s fat and gristle to eat, I have to take the indirect insult that the radio station thinks this is what my family is like, and that I can relate to the scene. Yes, it’s a rather roundabout and oversensitive way to take offense, but for some reason this kind of thing just bothers me. Well, advertising in this country as a whole bothers me to some extent anyway. Anyway, check out this bait dispenser! Woo! : http://www.livejournal.com/users/wyrdwad
Here’s a really old picture from my visit to Chicago with Stephen. Since I was very young, maybe 8 or 9, the highlight of each year was seeing my cousins Stephen and Timothy from St. Louis. Every summer they’d come to Chicago, I’d go to St. Louis, or both. Later on as we got busier with our own things Stephen and I would meet for New Year’s instead of during the summer. We’d make Hypercard games, record intricate claymation movies with camcorders, create standalone pen-and-paper RPG’s, play through video games, build things, and be generally weird and creative. Every time I saw them I’d feel that my creativity and ambition were recharged, like I’d been reminded of what life is supposed to be about. The defining part of each visit was the recording of That’s Nift, a fake radio-show Stephen and I have been making since 1990. It’s pretty excellent that we’ve been encapsulating our personalities and interactions about once a year, into episodes of pure random creativity. The Pepsi caps are from when I unquit Pepsi in order to earn free iTunes songs. These are just a few of my winnings. Now I’m in the process of requitting Pepsi, but it’s kind of sad because I had developed something of a trademark in having Pepsi at parties and such when everyone else was drinking alcohol.
**Saturday:** Quake 3 Arena at Ben’s housewarming party. Veterans like Ben and Jon, casual players like Dave and me, and various newbs clashed. > Sunday: Siren, which Ann brought up from Oshkosh. Hiroko, Ben, Ann, Brian, and I crowded around to watch Sony’s ambitious survival-horror game, much like crowds have gathered around Silent Hill and Fatal Frame II. Its atmosphere and concept were very compelling, but the game itself was too trial-and-error to be very fun. Hiroko’s tendency to get _angry_ whenever I die didn’t help. > Wario Ware, Inc., which Ben had bought for the party. Brian, Hiroko, and I fell asleep while Ben and Ann continued playing for hours.
**Monday:** R-Type Final, which I’d heard Jules mention on IRC. I played for about ten hours straight. There are so many ships to unlock, so many different weapons, so much detailed geeky stuff to get into. It’s the first game I’ve been addicted to, such that when I’m not playing it I constantly think about it, since TimeSplitters 2 or Shenmue II last summer. It feels pretty good to get engrossed in a game again, especially an old-school feeling one like R-Type Final. If you’ve got US$30 to spend on many, many hours of lovely blowing stuff up, that’s your game.