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October 2016  

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Sea of ??love crazy sex desires you catch here.  
12:46am 07/10/2016
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06:14pm 19/03/2011
A few people have been asking me about my on/off online friend, Sachiko. Whether I've heard from her, or tried to contact her to find out if she's all right. The answer to both questions is no, and I'm getting a few funny looks over it. So that people don't think I'm some sort of heartless bastard, I think I should set the record straight.

I met Sachi in 2003 while playing Final Fantasy XI. We hung out in game enough that we ended up exchanging emails, and over time that moved to talking to each other using various methods of voice communication. I've known her ever since, but our friendship consisted mostly of poking fun at each other and talking about video games. I know next to nothing about her except that she's obsessed with video games - Final Fantasy in particular - and that she lives in Tokyo (no, I don't know what part), so it's likely that she's safe, though almost certainly not unaffected. I remember that she has a brother and that her dad owns some sort of business, but that's really about it. I don't even know her family name. Heck, for all I know, Sachiko isn't even her real name.

She was always fun to talk to when she was around, but that was mostly when she didn't have a boyfriend. Though it took me a few years to realize why she'd go off the radar for long periods of time, I finally put it together that these were the times she was dating someone. When she'd break up with them, she'd suddenly show up again, and I'd hear from her multiple times per day for anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Then, she'd drop out of sight again. She never talked about her relationships when she was around, she just wanted to flirt, smack talk and discuss games and movies, but after a few years of this, it was pretty obvious what was going on. I don't think there was any malicious intent on her part here. She just wanted attention and I think she thought it was amusing to have a foreign guy to cut up with online. I knew it was harmless and at first it didn't really bother me, but eventually I just felt a bit like I was being used and got tired of it. It's one thing to want to unwind with a friend when you've had a romantic falling out. It's another thing to pretend that friend doesn't exist and go completely invisible the moment you're getting your attention fix somewhere else. The next time she showed up, I told her as politely as I could how I felt, and I haven't heard from her since. That was maybe a year ago. I haven't been keeping track so I'm not really sure.

Luckily, I'd never developed any kind of serious crush on her (I'm honestly not sure why I didn't, but I'm VERY glad of it) or become otherwise attached to her as a good friend, so it wasn't especially hard to cut ties. Likewise, I know she never felt anything special for me, so it probably wasn't hard for her to just drop me when I told her I didn't want to play along anymore.

In short, we knew each other for a long time but we were never anything more than very casual acquaintances who amused each other with large amounts of inane conversation and a very small amount of online gaming (she was extremely hard to pull away from Final Fantasy XI). During something as serious as what's happened in Japan, I'm not one of the people she's going to want to hear from. She's probably got enough going on now without being bothered by calls from a sometimes internet gaming friend in a distant land who she only even knows as a voice and a handful of photos. I don't think we ever ONCE discussed anything even remotely serious. I do hope she and her family are all right and I've prayed for her a few times since all of this started, but I'm not going to try to call her (not that I'd even know where to start if I wanted to). I doubt getting up with me has even crossed her mind, and there's really no reason it should. I do hope I hear something at some point, but I have to accept that it may not happen and if it doesn't, I don't feel it's right for me to pursue it. I only knew her online, I don't know any of her family, and we just weren't that close. That might sound a bit mean, but really I do hope she's okay and I only wish her the best. It just wouldn't serve any useful purpose, for me or for her, to tear myself up with worry for someone I didn't know very well, when it's quite likely that I may never even find out anything.
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Writer's Block: Dream or Reality?  
02:18pm 07/12/2010
What do you think really happened at the end of the movie Inception? Have you ever had a dream that you confused with reality?

I think what happened at the end of the movie Inception, is that the writers decided it would be fun to end with an unanswerable question, in order to spark lots of "Was he or wasn't he?" discussions, making sure to leave just enough evidence for both sides that there isn't really an answer anyway.

And that's the point. There isn't an answer and never was. The writers did not decide, when they wrote the thing, which one was true and then resolve not to tell anyone. There just isn't one. It's either one you want it to be. I've decided that I want him to be awake and in the real world, with his real kids, because that's nicer. So he was. Unless you'd rather he wasn't. So quit talking about it already.

Have I ever had a dream I confused with reality? Sure. I imagine everyone has at some point, including the people who, just to be contrary, say they haven't.
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Dance with me, Anteaterina.  
02:51am 20/09/2010
Hulu has Princess Tutu. How cool is that? I don't know if they only acquired it recently or if I just missed their adding it but I noticed it tonight, as I was looking for something to watch while doing homework.

Anyone who's seen this series knows it's possible to spend ridiculous amounts of time discussing both how awesome and how profoundly weird it is, but I'll spare you for now. Instead, I will post this short but sweet review by Petro Jsko:

***** Real Men Watch Princess Tutu
Holy hell this is the manliest show ever. Its got people getting their hearts ripped out, evil ravens, knights, fables, romantic subplots, dancing, ballerina princesses. YEA YOU HEARD ME. Characters. Loads of characters more characters than you know what to do with. Too many characters? TOO BAD. You want music? Tutu's got it. You want hot blooded rock music? Get that weak sauce out of here. This show has Tchaikovsky. Does your show have Tchaikovsky? Hell no, you probably can't even pronounce Tchaikovsky. This is manlier than a lumberjack flossing with barbed wire and anybody who says otherwise just can't handle it. WATCH PRINCESS TUTU.

You think he's kidding.
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(no subject)  
04:12pm 10/08/2010
I don't even know where to begin with this one. So incredibly excited for this game. If you haven't seen this yet, do so, whether you think you're interested in Guild Wars 2 or not.
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Where Everybody Knows Your Name  
02:01pm 09/07/2010
You know, I can't help but derive a certain amount of satisfaction from this thing Blizzard is doing. The Real ID thing, where all of your forum posts will now be linked to your real life first and last name. It's not that I don't think there are potential identity theft issues. Some of the concerns being raised are valid ones and honestly, I hate this sort of thing when it's mandated by a government, the way it is in China. But when it's a private company choosing to do it, and it's an environment like the message boards of the most popular MMO in the world, I have to admit to grinning in slightly sadistic glee at all the smug little forum trolls who won't be able to hide behind their anonymity anymore.

Despite the identity theft concerns I think that they're not as big a deal as people are making them out to be. It isn't like Blizzard is giving out social security numbers or credit card info. Out of curiosity, I visited the boards and looked up the posting history of some of the loudest protesters. Just as I suspected, many of the people most upset about this are also the biggest douche bags. Their real beef with the system is that it won't let them act like little shits without everyone knowing who they are anymore. The fact that there are perceived security risks is just a convenient excuse for them to hide behind.

Of course, there are many people who simply don't provide Blizzard with their real names to begin with. I think enough do, though, that this will make a difference on the forums. Many are kids whose parents signed them up, for instance. Do I really care that much? No. I don't do WoW and I definitely don't do its community. But seeing the types of people who tend to post there have to deal with this still makes me snicker a little.
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Everybody SING!  
10:15pm 22/06/2010
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03:29am 23/04/2010
I bought a nook. I've been wanting some sort of e-ink device for a while, but haven't really been able to justify spending the money. After wandering around in the book store today and realizing I was on the brink of spending 60 dollars for books (and when I still have plenty of great stuff to read at home, too) I finally decided to go for it. I also ordered an awesome cover from Oberon Design this afternoon, and I can't wait until it gets here.

I'm completely charmed by the thing. After reading some rather nitpicky reviews, I wasn't sure quite what to expect, but I've been nothing but pleased so far. Books are easy to browse in the store, most of them are dirt cheap (looking over the selection felt like going through a giant, virtual bargain bin) and it's easy to browse by genre, then narrow a search to a specific author, series, or title. Plus, there are a huge number of free or nearly free books and other material. Some authors appear to have individual short stories, some of which stand on their own and some of which are usually part of larger collections, available for no charge and occasionally, the entire first book of a series is on offer as a free promotion. I haven't yet seen a new release that's over 9.99, though I've been told that a very few can go as high as 12.00. Most seem to be 7.00 or less. Most things in the classics collection are .99 and the device actually comes with beautifully illustrated copies of Dracula, Little Women and Pride and Prejudice already loaded on it.

Images and videos don't do the e-ink screen justice. People will tell you that it's like looking at paper and that's mostly true. The more precise truth is that it's like looking at a piece of paper secured under a thin sheet of clear plastic. In the right light, there is a very faint gloss to it, though there's no reflection. The illusion is remarkable. Looking down at it now, I could easily believe, if I didn't know better, that someone had removed a page from a book and put it in a little white frame. The text doesn't look blocky or computerized. You can select from several fonts, but they are all identical to popular fonts used by publishers in actual printed books, and things such as illustrations and special chapter headings are all perfectly preserved. You get the cover, dedication page, and all the usual publisher information when flipping through the beginning of a book. Even the table of contents are drawn and laid out identically to the way they are in the print version.

You can also load pictures onto it and choose to have it display them as wallpapers or placeholder images when the device is sleeping and they look just as amazing as the books. I filled mine full of Haibane images and they came out looking similar to black and white photographs or beautifully detailed pencil drawings.

One of the most interesting things is how easy and comfortable it is to actually read on it. There will probably be quite a few people ready to burn me as a heretic for saying this but it is, if you want to get completely technical, more comfortable than reading a print book. It's lighter than most books, thinner, and much easier to read one-handed while doing something like eating lunch with the other. Not only do you not have to use your thumb to hold back the pages on the left, but the page bumpers and touch screen are laid out in such a way that you can comfortably flip back and forth through a book and even place bookmarks using only your thumb. When I sat down to eat on the way home from buying it, I was actually able to read and eat a sandwich at the same time, without it being the least bit awkward or uncomfortable, and without any risk of getting food on the reader. When not reading one-handed, I'm loving the page turning feature on the touch screen that lets me flip back and forth through a book by swiping my finger across it.

This isn't, of course, going to completely replace print books for me. But I like that I can now be more selective about which books I actually buy the print versions of, and that I'll be able to better afford nice hardcover versions when I do. Bbest of all, I like that I can carry a whole library in my pocket. I now don't have to worry about which book to take with me when I go somewhere. I can just take all of them.
mood: sleepysleepy
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(no subject)  
10:42am 19/04/2010
I just started Quentins and I can already tell that it's going to be good. I always appreciate it when an author begins a story with a conversational tone. While some of my favorite books break this rule, most of them tend to stick to it.

I think this is because the best authors know that when you visit a place in a book, you're there to get to know people. You don't necessarily know who those people are yet, and you may not even know that they are why you've come, but whether you realize it or not, they're what's going to keep you turning pages in the beginning. While there are many wonderful stories that begin with long histories of the places you're about to encounter, I think these authors tend to be missing the point. The book may turn out well in the end, but I'd have felt much less like I was having to fight to stay interested if you'd begun with something simple. Even one of the most epic fantasies ever written begins with, "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit." Tolkien's most impressive and well-remembered achievement was the world he built, but he still knew that he needed characters to draw people into that world before they could love it. Page through the Silmarillion and imagine trying to get interested in it without ever having met Bilbo, Frodo or Gandalf.

Quentin's begins thus:

When Ella Brady was six, she went to Quentins. It was the first time anyone had called her Madam. A woman in a black dress with a lace collar had led them to the table. She had settled Ella's parents in and then held out a chair for the six-year-old.

'You might like to sit here, Madam, it will give you a full view of everything,' she said.

This sort of thing is, to me, worth any amount of sweeping prose, or any number of grand histories. I'm sure that, long before the book is over, I'll love Quentins itself. But I'm glad this is the sort of author who realizes that in order to make the a place appealing, it's often best to put it aside for a while.
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(no subject)  
03:59pm 04/04/2010
I have a stack - a stack I say - of great new books to read. I can't remember the last time I had such a sizeable queue of unread stories almost guaranteed to be great vying for shelf space in my room. Finding a truly wonderful book is usually tricky, with a lot of trial and error. When I do happen to stumble across one, it tends to be by chance. This time, the stars just happened to align somehow, and I have no less than six books that are either by authors I trust completely, have proven themselves within the first few pages (no small feat), or come very highly recommended by people who truly know what I like, beyond just the vague notion that I'm into fantasy.

Young Wizards 9 - A Wizard of Mars

Reading this one now and it's every bit as good as I was expecting. I'm very happy that this series didn't end with Wizards At War as I thought, for a while, that it had. Besides the fact that I continue to love all of the characters and the world they inhabit, I admire and applaud Duane's ability to make good look competent and appealing, and the core motivations behind evil look petulant and silly. In the Young Wizards universe, it's really, truly cool to be the good guys, and that's not easy to pull off these days.

Little Bee

If you haven't read this, and you enjoy great writing and storytelling, you need to put aside genre preferences and give it a look. I won't tell you what it's about. The back of the book won't tell you what it's about either, and there's a reason for that. You can probably find reviews that will, but trust me when I say that you'll be ruining it for yourself. I'm a little more than halfway through with it and taking my time to absorb each chapter before moving on to the next one. It's that kind of book.


All I know for sure is that it's about a restaurant in Dublin, has no central plot to speak of, and focuses on multiple characters whose lives revolve around the place in some way. Meg suggested this one and said it's one of her favorite books, which is good enough for me.

We Never Talk About My Brother

Peter S. Beagle's latest short story collection. I'm one story in and trying not to rush the rest. Beagle has built up a respectable collection of stories over the years, but he isn't prolific so I try not to tear through his books without stopping to savor them.


This book is practically legendary in some circles. I wouldn't call myself a true fan of Clive Barker. I've read a few of his other stories and liked them well enough, but most of them stopped just short of pure magic. With some books, that would be all right, but with his, it left me unsettled because I felt that pure magic was what they should have been. There always seemed to be something profound struggling to make itself known in his stories that could never quite find its way onto the page. Abarat came the closest.

Weaveworld is a book that I've been trying to get my hands on for a very long time. It's not that I can never find it, it's that it keeps slipping my mind. I'll hear about it somewhere, it'll occur to me that "Oh, right, I really need to read that!" and I'll tell myself I'll pick it up next paycheck or put it on my to-read list, or even decide that I'm going to stop in at the shop right now, before I forget, and pick up a copy. But it always manages to wiggle away when I'm not looking, or the list gets lost, or I do check the shop and I just missed their last copy. I'd swear it's been doing it on purpose.

Then, the other day, I was poking around on the shelves of the Triangle Town Center B&N, and there it was. I hadn't been thinking about it at all, and I think I took it by surprise. It probably would have hopped off the shelf and tried to run, except that it was so surprised to see me that it was shocked motionless and I managed to grab it. I sat down, looked over the introduction, read the first few pages, and realized that I needed to give this one my full attention. No reading of other books alongside. So I closed it, and I haven't opened it again yet, but I look forward to it very much. This, I think, is the book that Barker was trying to write in all his stories prior to it, and the one he can't quite match afterward. This is the one that's true. The others are decent enough, but mostly made up.

And I'm not letting it out of my sight until I've read it. It's chained to my desk. I'm not kidding.

The Innkeeper's Song

Another by Beagle. Out of print, difficult to find, and his favorite of all the books he's written. When I talked to him at DragonCon a few years ago, at which time I found out that it was no longer in print, he seemed genuinely distressed that there was nothing he could do to get me a copy. Then, not long ago, I found it at Mr. Mike's, a used book shop in Cary, when I was out with Chris and Meg just before Roman night. I know almost nothing about the story and I'm perfectly happy with that. I'm saving this one for last.

With finals looming and several major projects that need finishing, not to mention regular old homework, it's difficult to grab reading time, but I make it happen. There's not a soul alive who can't find reading time if they love books enough. And I'm in no hurry to exhaust it. There's no telling when this many guaranteed good reads will come along again all at once like this, if ever.
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